Category Archives: About Abrazo Style

What Makes Abrazo Totes Special

We love collaborating
with indigenous artisans to create new
products using craft techniques passed
down through generations.

Our totes are a perfect illustration of that story:
blending “new” and “old” into something very special.
We’d like to share a a few highlights about our totes which will hopefully make you love your Abrazo bag even more.

Limited Edition and Unique:
Each tote is a work of art and has unique qualities .
The primary signature of an artisan-made product is it’s variation within the same design. The tightness of the weave, the approach to the design, and the finishing details all may vary slightly but that is part of the beauty of handmade: every piece is one-of-a kind!

 

Well-Made and Ready for Work: 
Our totes are expertly woven using traditional craftsmanship with simple yet durable materials.
Abrazo bags are woven on rustic wooden frames which, from their appearance, could easily date back 100 years.  Nails encircle the top and bottom ends of the box and the partially recycled polyethylene plastic lanyard we use wraps through them. It takes concentration, dexterity, and strength to weave a tote and artisans must be attentive, counting stitches to maintain their pattern as they guide the plastic lanyard in and out. When one length of lanyard runs out a new piece is spliced in, melting the two ends together, and so on until the bag is complete. The handles are woven through the bag, wrapping around the bottom for extra strength. Once the bag is finished any protruding loose lanyard ends are trimmed off. ( If you encounter one simply snip it off with scissors as it does not affect the integrity of the bag.) Our totes have been weight tested to over 40 pounds so they are ready for hard work!

Easy Care:
Washable, mashable, and no maintenance required.
Our clutches, handbags, totes, and beach bags are 100% plastic and made without any extra frills that make them complicated to wash when you remember that pint of black berries you left in your bag from the farmers market or get back from a day at the beach. Just wash it off and let it dry. Mashed it in your suitcase? It will relax back to its normal shape if you put it into use with a little weight or apply a little heat. Just hang it in a sunny place or warm with a blow dryer.

Ethical:
Abrazo Style’s handcrafted products are certified by the Fair Trade Federation. This demonstrates our commitment to the well-being of the artisans we work with. Read more about the FTF fair trade principles here.

As always, we love to hear from you
with your questions and comments!
We hope you find this information helpful and we look forward
to sharing more about our other products soon.
                            Alex giving a tote workshop training.
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Filed under About Abrazo Style, Fair Trade, Market Bags, Oaxaca, Uncategorized

What Makes Abrazo Embroidered Apparel Special

At Abrazo we spend our days crafting beauty with indigenous artisans of Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico.
Today, we’re taking a moment to highlight a few details about what makes our hand embroidered apparel special.
Handcrafted:
Hand embroidery looks different from machine embroidery.
We use unique stitches, such as the French knot and the rococo coil stitch, to make our designs. These embroidery techniques are impossible to imitate by machine and are evident in the relief of the hand work on the garment.  When the garment is turned inside out, the knots and irregular patterns of the stitches are a very good indicator of handwork.* Ethical:
Abrazo Style’s handcrafted products are certified by the Fair Trade Federation. This demonstrates our commitment to the well-being of the women we work with. Read more about the FTF fair trade principles here.

Limited Edition and Unique:
Abrazo Style produces a curated collection of styles featuring artisan-crafted details.
Our clothing is produced in small production runs in family workshops and embroidered by talented  women artisans. Each artisan’s rendering of an Abrazo design reflects the “signature” of the individual woman’s style and is what makes each piece special and one-of-a-kind.

* Well-Made and Enduring:
Abrazo Style creates garments that stand the test of time by using quality materials and masterful craftsmanship.
We strive to acquire the most durable fabric and color-fast thread available. Our embroidery is expertly done by women whose families have carried on the tradition for generations and take pride in using tight stitching and secure knots to add longevity to our garments. We pre-wash all of our embroidered garments before packaging to ensure minimal change to the size or appearance of the garment after use.

Easy Care:
Our embroidered apparel is machine washable and pre-shrunk.
To preserve the life of the garment, hand washing is always best but machine washing works almost as well. Wash in cold water, delicate cycle, embroidery facing out, and hang to dry. Iron inside out. (Some shrinkage will occur if the garment is washed in hot water or put into the dryer. Not recommended).

As always, we love to hear from you
with your questions and comments!
We hope you find this information helpful and we look forward
to sharing more about our other products soon.
Embroiderers practicing new stitches for our Felisa dress.

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Filed under About Abrazo Style, embroidery, Fair Trade, Fair Trade Federation, Indigenous Mexican women, Mexican blouses, Mexico, Oaxaca, Wearable Art

A Kind Voice Radio Interview

Indigenous women embroiderers work in their homes to create our handcrafted apparel.

Indigenous women embroiderers work in their homes to create our handcrafted apparel.

A Kind Voice radio interviews our founder, Adele Hammond, about social entrepreneurship, fair trade, and what it takes to create handcrafted apparel and accessories for women in Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/akindvoice/2017/01/28/a-kind-voice-radio–adele-hammond

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Filed under About Abrazo Style, Aid to Artisans, Doing Business in Mexico, embroidery, Fair Trade, Fair Trade Federation, Indigenous Culture, Living Abroad, Living in Mexico, Mexican blouses, Mexican textiles, Mexico, Oaxaca, Social enterprise, Textiles Oaxaca, travel/shopping in Mexico, Wearable Art, Women Artisans

Out of the Box

Abrazo Style Rococo Tee chambrayAbrazo Style drawing1I started this post some time ago and as I finish it, I am reminded (mostly by others), that I need to pause to look back at how far we’ve come. I’m not very good at that but when I do take a moment I see a business with a growing number of passionate people who together are creating an exceptional collection of high quality, socially responsible, handcrafted apparel and accessories, despite the odds.

Our successes (and failures) over the past year resonate with the recurring theme of problem solving in virtually every aspect of what we do. Thinking out of the box (not recommended for those who aren’t in it for the adventure) is a prerequisite and patience, persistence and creativity in navigating cultures is the only way to get things done.

Abrazo Style Oaxaca artisan Carmen weaving a scarf by hand.Abrazo Style Laura Carmen ScarfIn fact, recently, while driving down the road in Oaxaca contemplating where and how we were going to source the new plastic we needed for our totes after months of dead ends, it dawned on me while waiting at a traffic light that the truck in front of me was covered in signs advertising recycled plastic. I grabbed a pen and quickly wrote down the phone number on my hand as the light turned green. That evening I called the number, and miraculously, I was connected with someone who knew someone who could help. This is how we roll in Mexico. No amount of Google searches, phone books or even legwork will guarantee success.

We have experienced a rather stunning array of unpleasant surprises in this last year, comprised of tales from which great novels are written. Everything from jealous mistresses to corrupt government officials, plastic Abrazo Style White Cream Floral Lupe crop 2photo 2-3cartels to prolonged village fiestas have crossed our path and threatened our existence. Out of necessity we have invented our own manufacturing processes and sometimes even the materials to make our products. But here we are, another year under our belt, stronger, and growing steadily, despite the odds. We continue to learn, sometimes stumbling, occasionally flying, building Abrazo Style, brick by brick.

Looking back, yes, I see we have accomplished a lot but mostly I see the women, growing and learning, gaining greater self-confidence, happiness, and sustainability. That’s what makes all the rest of this crazy adventure worthwhile.

And rounding out this year, I would also like to thank Celina, my erstwhile assistant in Mexico (who has been

Celina

with me almost since the beginning), for all of her hard work, dedication and commitment to this venture as she leaves Abrazo for a new direction in her career.

 

Look for us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram as Abrazo Style

www.abrazostyle.com

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Filed under About Abrazo Style, Doing Business in Mexico, embroidery, Fair Trade, Indigenous Culture, Indigenous Mexican women, Living in Mexico, Mexican blouses, Mexican textiles, Mexico, Oaxaca, Social enterprise, Textiles Oaxaca, travel/shopping in Mexico, WBTW, Women Artisans

An Inside Look with Adele Hammond: Embracing Contemporary Style and Handcrafted Traditions

An Inside Look with Adele Hammond: Embracing Contemporary Style and Handcrafted Traditions.

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Filed under About Abrazo Style, About Latin Threads Trading Co., Chiapas, embroidery, Fair Trade, Indigenous Culture, Indigenous Mexican women, Living Abroad, Living in Mexico, Mexican blouses, Mexican textiles, Mexico, Oaxaca, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Textiles Oaxaca, travel/shopping in Mexico, Women Artisans

A Radical Shift Toward the Future

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Chiapan women showing their handiwork for Abrazo Style

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Catalog images of finished piece.

It is an interesting conundrum building a business in a world where seasonal colors, tight delivery deadlines and demanding standards for consistency collide with the alternate reality of tradition and rural life of indigenous artisans of Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico.

As Abrazo Style grows we have confronted challenges that would make any ordinary fashion apparel company lock their doors and throw away the key. After all, it would be so much easier to just go to China to produce a blouse that would have convincing embroidery, consistency, and proper sizing. But for anyone who knows what we do, the process, the mission, and the result are intimately tied together.

Since my last post, we have taken on several very large customers whose names I don’t think I’m allowed to mention. One of them understands our mission and has been absolutely amazing in their patience while we “figured out” how to adapt the handmade blouse they chose for their catalog into a “production” blouse  with 4 sizes and a consistent embroidery design. How hard could that be, right? Well, pretty hard, as it turns out. A different customer chose one of our totes for their high end apparel and accessories line and we were faced with reproducing EXACT designs for them on a very tight deadline. Fortunately, we were successful and the tote even made it into this month’s InStyle magazine.

As you might guess, Abrazo is evolving. Though our passion remains traveling the backroads of Mexico to discover the one-of-a-kind treasures our customers love, we are also inspired to reinvent tradition with an updated process and a line of clothing that is machine sewn, hand embroidered, and designed in 4 sizes for American bodies. So far, the ladies in Oaxaca and Chiapas love it and so do our US customers.

Our process may be evolving but women still work in their homes and their lives remain fundamentally the same with the exception that they are becoming more economically stable.

We, along with our artisans are challenged to make intimidating and unfamiliar changes in the future in order to grow, but so far we are making good progress (with the exception of some occasional VERY large bumps in the road ;-).

Straddling two worlds, centuries apart, with a shared goal of success requires perserverance and above all, a great sense of humor.

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Filed under About Abrazo Style, About Latin Threads Trading Co., Chamula, Chiapas, embroidery, Fair Trade, Indigenous Culture, Indigenous Mexican women, Maya, Mexican blouses, Mexican textiles, Mexico, travel/shopping in Mexico, WBTW, Women Artisans