Yesterday was Fall Equinox, which means that it’s officially now Fall!  Wooohoooo!  We love the change of season, the falling leaves, bundling up…

So we’re celebrating!  Use code FALLISHERE for 25% off all Scarves and Accessories until Sunday, September 25th.  Hurry, supplies are limited.

And hey, want to learn about the embroidery artisans behind the beautiful Corte Wrap (now only$67.50 with code)?  Take a look at this post by Mari published on The Curious Button.



“Embroidery Artisans in Guatemala” featured on The Curious Button!

Did you see?  My little write-up on my experience visiting a new community we are working with was published on the ethical lifestyle blog The Curious Button.  We’re honored!


The sisters Anita and Teresita work on our Corte Wraps, and they do a great job – blanket stitch all along the edges of the textile, and macrame fringes on two ends to give the scarf a good shape.  They live in a community near Sumpango, where we have just started to expand for embroidery work.

These women do not live in castles, have super modern appliances, or fancy cars. But they’re also not destitute. I think a part of me was afraid that they might be living in some terrible conditions, but I was relieved to see that they had such a lovely home. I want to paint an honest picture of these two sisters in particular:

They have a beautiful home. The sisters are close. They take pride in their traditional art of embroidery. Their work is excellent. They live in a mostly agricultural village with dirt roads. Their kitchen is big, with two wood-burning stoves for lots of cooking. They have plenty of room to host community gatherings at their home. They are welcoming, and they seem happy.

Read the whole article on The Curious Button!





Thank you, Chicago!

We had a great time at the Renegade Fair in Chicago… so much fun, actually, that I didn’t take too many photos (again!  I’m so bad at this).  It was great to join forces with Cardamom Collective for a fantastic textile-loving booth!

Here are some of the only shots I have from the fantastic weekend:


A very kind gentleman welcomed Kelly and me into the neighborhood with these delicious coffees!


Just some of the Kakaw goodies!  It was fun to see the small things sell quickly – makes sense at fairs.  Luggage tags, passport covers, pouches and coasters all top favorites.


Scarves galore!  Can you tell which ones are Kakaw and which ones are Cardamom?


Sweet holiday kits, collaboration with Cardamom Collective.  Stay tuned- they will be up for sale on their site soon!


It was lovely to see people come and visit.  Many admirers of Guatemala, textile lovers of course, and new friends referred to us by old friends.  And fun to come across people who actually knew us – I’m always surprised and curious as to how… a few through social media, a few through common friends, and even a woman who had heard me speak at an event in Guatemala a couple of years ago.  The world is so small!

Thank you, everyone, for all your support! I had a great time, and I hope to be back at Renegade Chicago next year as well.  Now I’m planing a trip to New York for November…. 🙂






Meet Herlinda, university student from Maya Traditions

Have you heard about our special collaboration with Maya Traditions this month? Our goal is to raise funds for university tuition for students like Herlinda.  Everyone in the Youth Education Fund comes from an artisan family that Maya Tradition works with, and it’s a HUGE deal for them to be attending university.



We’d like to introduce you to one of these amazing students, Herlinda (in the middle, with that adorable smile!):


Herlinda is 22 years old and from Nahualá, Guatemala.  She is studying Law in university, which here in Guatemala is a 5-year program. Guatemala needs more Herlindas to move forward!

When asked “Why is it important to attend university?” she answered:

Now days, a university degree is indispensable.  The majority of organizations recruit people with degrees and several years of work experience.  This means that in order to have better work opportunities, it is necessary to have general and critical knowledge.  I think that studying in university will give me the opportunity to get to know the legal realities of our country, and this will allow me to share with others and hear their experiences.

Here’s some background info on education in Guatemala:

In Guatemala there is a clear need for increased educational opportunities and youth development initiatives.  The Guatemalan Ministry of Education reports that only 61% of junior-high (básico) age youth and only 32% of senior-high (diversificado) age youth are enrolled in school.  The educational realities are even more disparaging for indigenous populations. The majority (62.3%) of the 556,000 children aged 7-14 not attending school is indigenous, and the highest rates of illiteracy occur in rural areas with an indigenous population. This is largely due to the extreme poverty faced by many indigenous Guatemalans and a poor education system that offers little opportunity to advance economic sustainability. Government-run public schools are under-funded, overcrowded, and offer antiquated curriculums. The alternative private schools are often too expensive for a vast majority of indigenous families, 75% of whom live below the poverty line.

Take a moment to check out our Original Boots and our Quetzal Shoes, with 20% of sales going towards supporting students like Herlinda with their university education this September.

Textile choices with text

Alison bigger

Alison in her Original Boots made with Cielo textile

US shipment vacation

Just a heads up, friends!  Our lovely US distributor Kelly is going on vacation to Europe (yes, we’re all jealous), which means that shipments from US will be suspended from June 13 – July 7.  We’ll continue to work on custom-made boots and other products shipped directly from Guatemala as usual.  If you have any questions, let us know at hello@kakawdesigns.com!

Since we won’t be able to ship these beauties for a couple of weeks, we thought we’d encourage you to buy them now 🙂  Our Macaw Tote and Macaw Wallet are on sale until Sunday, June 12th.

Both items use naturally-dyed ikat textiles woven on a backstrap loom by our partner cooperative of weavers.  Don’t know what this means?  Watch our video to learn more.

Use code VACATIONTOTE for $20 off the Macaw Tote, and VACATIONWALLET for $10 off the Macaw Wallet.  Or better, get both for $30 off 🙂

Macaw Totes Square

Macaw Tote now $70 using code VACATIONTOTE




Macaw Wallet now $40 using code VACATIONWALLET


Have fun, Kelly, and take lots of pictures in France!


Handmade Pendant Collaboration with Cardamom Collective

We’re so excited to be working with another artisan-minded company, Cardamom Collective!  We’ve got some really cool collaboration ideas cooking up, starting with these pendants.


These handmade pendants with silver accents have really given a second life to the textile and leather scraps leftover from our boots and bags production.  These are made with a Todos Santos huipil, with bursts of color.

Since Kelly from Cardamom Collective has experience with jewelry-making, it was a natural idea to send some pendants for her to add the finishing touches.  Take a look at these beauties – with Venetian beads, antique coins, and more!  I love how these pieces now encompass so much more than just Guatemala – they’ve turned into international unique pieces with lots of love, and that’s a very special feeling.

Stay tuned and make sure to check out Cardamom Collective as they will be available for sale soon!  Let us know if you want us to put one aside for you.

Silent Auction for Friendship Bridge

TOMORROW is the Gifts of Giving event at Mesón Panza Verde here in Antigua, where 11 local designers will be working together to raise awareness and funds for different causes of choosing.


We are SO EXCITED to be supporting Friendship Bridge at the event!  This awesome NGO provides microloans to indigenous rural women in Guatemala, for their small businesses.  We love them because we believe this is the most sincere way to invest in communities… because women know how to best use their money for their families and communities as a whole.  And they can do it all themselves, instead of some stranger telling them what to do.  Simple, true, as it should be.


Not in Antigua?  Not to worry – you can still take part in the silent auction!  All proceeds from the sale of this one-of-a-kind clutch will be donated to Friendship Bridge.  The bidding stars at only $75… email mari@kakawdesigns.com to take part!  Payment can be made via PayPal and we will ship internationally.

runway clutch


Kakaw Designs in Guatemala

When I started this baby of mine (Kakaw Designs) a little over a year ago, I had only considered the markets outside of Guatemala.  I thought we would work with local partners and artisans in Guatemala, and then ship the handmade boots and bags to abroad.  Through this model, we’ve done well – we’ve had orders from the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Germany, Spain, and the UK.

What I didn’t expect was so much interest locally here in Guatemala.  Turns out, people here (both Guatemalan and foreign) are in search of well-made luxury products, always with the local Mayan accents, and solid partnerships with the artisans.  We’re bombarded here in Antigua with handicrafts everywhere, and always handmade, but the attention to detail is definitely not the same.  What we have at Kakaw is really luxury, and that’s hard to find.

With that said, I was honored when Vessel Boutique asked to have Kakaw products at their new store in Antigua.  Vessel is a well-established boutique in Mexico City, who themselves have a complete line of handmade clothes and accessories made in Guatemala.  Their clothes are gorgeous – my favorite, this wool coat!


It’s a great fit with Kakaw Designs, and we’re excited to be part of their new store in Antigua.  They’ve experienced the same thing as us; people are asking them to sell locally.  So, why not?

Next time you’re in Antigua, find us at Vessel Boutique, located right on the Arch Street.  Come check out what we’ve got going.

Kakaw at Vessel

Kakaw at Vessel

Take a look at this post by Vessel for more awesome photos of the shop!

Sweet Thursday: Sweet Kelsey

This week’s special lady: Kelsey!
 photo 1
1. Where do you live in Texas, and how long have you been there?
I moved to Texas a little over two years ago and split my time between the Corpus Christi area on the Gulf of Mexico and Stephenville, a little college and rodeo town.
2. Have you started catching yourself speak “Texan”? 
“Texan talk” can be pretty fun. Y’all has definitely been integrated into my vocabulary, and it is common to hear people say “fixin’ to.” For example, “I’m fixin’ to polish my boots right now.”
photo 5

Gardening fun!

3. For those of us who have never been to this land full of cowboys and boots… what’s it like?
Boots are a big deal down here. Most people have several pairs and sometimes they get very fancy with many designs and bright colors. They are often paired with big belt buckles, and if you are a Texan lady you most likely will have rhinestones on the buckle and on your jeans. Along with boots comes the Texas Two-step which every local should know how to dance. Texas even has its own “Texas country” music genre.Texas is also the land of BBQ. Most people own smokers to BBQ their meat slowly for hours. Some Texans even have smokers attached to the back of their truck for tailgating at football games or concerts.People are very friendly down in Texas and many have noticed and admired my boots from Guatemala.

Looking good, Kelsey!

Looking good, Kelsey!


Kelsey, we wish you the best in the land of cowboys and leather boots.  Thanks for sending us your photos and being a beautiful walking advertisement for Kakaw Designs!


While we’re working to make our website even more beautiful, we are putting some current boot info here on the blog.  Thanks so much for your understanding, and we can’t wait to show you the new look on the web soon!



Currently, we have our two original boot styles available for custom-made orders.

Short Curved Boot


Short Curved Boot with San Juan Stripes

Cherry Boots

Short Curved Boot with Chichicastenango Corte


Short Straight Boot

Short Straight Boot with San Pedro Corte

Short Straight Boot with San Pedro Corte (no embroidery)

Short Straight Boot with San Juan Stripes

Short Straight Boot with San Juan Stripes


Here are the current textile options, so that you can design your own pair of unique boots:

Please email mari@gray-boots.com for any questions or orders.


Thanks again for your patience and understanding during this transition!