Let’s Collaborate!

While it’s incredibly satisfying and fulfilling to see our aritsan-made designs come full-cycle from seed to fruit, we’ve also realized that we LOVE collaborating with other creative minds out there.  We love working together to get our creative juicing flowing, and creating something new.

So if you’re interested in collaborating with Kakaw Designs, just shoot us an email to hello@kakawdesigns.com and let us know!  Let’s work together!

What we’ve done so far:

  • Our Perrito Collection began as a collaboration for a fundraiser for Fundación Waybi / Bocalán Guatemala, organizations that work with animal-assisted therapy here in Guatemala.  We’re huge fans of the work that they do, and it was an honor to put together a fundraising event in 2015, and from there make the Perrito Collection available on our online store with 20% of the proceeds going to this great cause._MG_9028
  • Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2015 in Guatemala City was an incredible experience, working with and learning from Liza Carrillo from Vessel.  Together, we prepared some amazing looks for this runway fashion show.  This was a truly WOW experience, seeing our artisan-made products on the runway worn by models, accessorizing stunning looks by Vessel.


runway clutch

  • We’re so excited to be working with Cardamom Collective, starting with this collaboration for one-of-a-kind pendants.  Using leather and textile scraps from our production of boots and bags, we crafted the pendants using sterling silver.  And then off to Kelly they went, where they received their finishing touches incorporating vintage coins, Afghan lapis, and other lovely accents, giving the pendants a truly global feel.  They are available for sale on the Cardamom Collective website.

pendant lapis


We’re excited to see what else we can achieve with others.  Want to be part of it?  Just let us know!

Happy New Year!

Happy 2016, everyone!  WOW, 2015 went by so fast… and what a wonderful year it turned out to be!  So many exciting things happened, all organically with the support of so many good people, and we are so grateful for it all.  Take a look at some of the good stuff:

  • We started wholesale!  This was a big step for us.  Currently, there are three stores in Antigua that carry our products, and two in the US.  We’re exciting to be expanding to other small boutiques in the new year!

  • We introduced new products with more emphasis on working with local cooperatives.  This means using new handwoven textiles exclusively produced for Kakaw Designs.  We also started working with an embroidery group, and are looking forward to combining beautiful textiles with beautiful embroidery accents using naturally-dyed thread. Oh, the possibilities!

  • We participated in our first major runway fashion show, the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Guatemala.  That was a surreal experience, to see our handmade products on the runway, and received so well by the public.

  • We’re starting to get some buzz in the blogging world, with Beyoutiful Hope and Day Job Optional reviewing our products.  Stay tuned for more coming soon!


  • We found Jen, an amazing addition to Kakaw Designs, helping us with distribution from San Francisco. (And modeling for us, too!)


  • We made our first prototype textile pendant with silver and leather accents.  We’re so excited to be introducing jewelry to our mix of products in 2016!


Who knew all this would happen in just one year?  Definitely not me… 2016, bring it on!  We’re ready to take on new challenges!  Thank you, everyone, for all your support!






My intro to the World of Fashion: Mercedes-Benz Fashion


What an experience to be part of Guatemala’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Show on November 19th, 2015!  I am still recovering from the thrill of seeing our handmade boots and bags on the runway as part of the beautiful looks by Vessel.


With Liza Carrillo, designer for Vessel, and fellow Vessel lovers

I would like to make yet another confession (this blog is full of confessions these days)… I never expected to be part of a runway show.  I don’t even really know how I got to this point where I am being introduced to strangers as “Mari, the Designer for Kakaw Designs.”  When did I become a designer, and part of this Fashion scene?

I started Kakaw Designs because I love the handwoven textiles in Guatemala, and saw the need for truly high-quality products using these gorgeous textiles.  And hey, I’ve always loved boots… so why not boots?  And then we started making bags and accessories, too, always with the mission to work with talented weavers and leathersmiths.  But this amateur thought that we would need to go against “Fast Fashion”, the kind that we see on the runway, that it was Us vs. Them.

Turns out, I was wrong.  There is a place on the runway for quality handmade products.  Vessel is a great example of a brand mixing beautiful contemporary designs with traditional and handmade accents, perhaps most notable in their use of embroidery, like in this gorgeous jacket that I wore to the event, combining Vessel and Kakaw for the night:

Mari outfit

Handmade dress (designed by yours truly), with the awesome red Vessel jacket and a unique Kakaw clutch.

My friends know that I was worried for the show.  I was worried about using traditional designs, about incorporating these gorgeous handmade pieces into the runway show, I thought for some reason Kakaw products would not fit in.  Worse yet, I was worried about being disrespectful to the handmade and traditional processes, these designs that are so beautiful and so labor-intensive to produce, somehow decreasing its importance by being part of such a big show as this one by Mercedes-Benz.  Thank goodness I was dead wrong!

The looks are so beautiful.  Liza Carrillo, the designer (now she really is a designer) for Vesesl, put everything together so elegantly and tastefully.  She did an incredible job.

THIS LOOK: the opening look for Vessel, and one of my favorites for sure.



And here’s my video, I apologize in advance because I am not a videographer:


There are so many labels these days within the fashion industry: Fast Fashion, Slow Fashion, Ethical Fashion, Sustainable Fashion, Eco Fashion…. but they do all fall under one category: Fashion.  There are so many problems in the big mainstream fashion scene, but at this runway level, it is a fantasy world, a theatrical show.  These looks are presented as works of art, that may or may not be for sale, but first and foremost they are works of art to be appreciated as such.  And in this sense, I have gained so much respect for this world of Fashion at the runway level.

En fin, I loved being part of this runway experience.  I would do it again in a heartbeat, knowing that there is a way to present handmade products respectfully and beautifully in a place I thought was reserved for mainstream fashion (whatever that is).  There is a big movement taking place, not only in Guatemala but all over the world, of appreciating artisans and valuing handmade processes.  Guatemala stands out because of its indigenous peoples and arts, as in the traditional textiles of the Maya.  But I rest assured that Kakaw is only a small part of this big change, that there are many other like-minded designers and brands that are working towards values such as respect, sustainability, and the continuation of traditional art forms.  This is a great feeling, full of hope, and I look forward to seeing where our journey takes us.







Crazy November

The Holidays are approaching, and we’re feeling the love!  Last November proved to be the busiest month for us, and we’ve got so much more going this year.


We’re got new wraps just in time for the holidays! Check them out: Hummingbird Wrap and Quetzal Wrap, available now on kakawdesigns.com

Our Crazy November Schedule in Guatemala:

November 13-14-15: Holiday Bazaar at Paseo Cayalá, Guatemala City.  This will be our first open-air market at the famous and hip Paseo Cayalá!  We’re so pleased to have received this invitation to participate, and we will be donating 20% of the sales that day to Operation Smile, an organization providing care to children born with cleft lip and cleft palates here in Guatemala and all over the world.  I have to admit, I didn’t know until fairly recently that cleft lip and palate can be so damaging – newborns often have difficulty feeding because of their birth defects (how the mouth is formed).  So we’re of course so excited to be part of this bazaar in one of the coolest spots in Guatemala, for a very important cause.

November 19th: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Show, Guatemala.  I’ll have to work on some serious breathing exercises to get through this one… our first real fashion show, with professional models, cat walk and all…! None other than the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Show!  This invite came through the awesome brand Vessel, and we are working together to make some awesome looks for the show.  Stay tuned 🙂


November 28th: Gifts of Giving Fashion Day at Mesón Panza Verde in Antigua, Guatemala.  Another holiday-spirit event, this one with a dozen different local designers all coming together to support a different NGO of choice.  We are proud to be sponsoring Friendship Bridge at this event, with 35% of the sales that day going directly to the micro-financing organization working specifically with indigenous women in rural Guatemala.  Micro-loans are truly the gift that keeps giving, as the money will continue to be circulated (once it gets paid back to the organization, it will go out again as a different loan).  I love the simplicity of microloans, the direct effect that they have on empowering women and communities as a whole.  After all, women know exactly what their families and communities need.

PVFS - 01

And, of course, we’ve always got our website kakawdesigns.com, now with new wraps, wallets, and more for the holiday season!

2015, you’ve been great.  Let’s end it well!