Category Archives: Living in Mexico

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 Book Worth Having

Lots of things going on at Abrazo these days! We will update soon on our progress with our work in Oaxaca and Chiapas but in the meantime, a carrot….. If you’ve ever traveled  in Oaxaca, the Yucatan or Chiapas, you are familiar with the strange fruits, odd trees and crafts that are unique to this region. Author Svetlana Aleksandroff of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, has recently produced a visual delight of a book that identifies and celebrates the flora, legend and craft of the Mayan culture. “Plants in the Mayan Culture” covers everything from coconuts to incense burners in its richly designed pages, walking the reader through the use and traditions surrounding  plants in the region of the Maya. Don’t look for literature but enjoy the visual feast. Check for availability in the US on their FB page: http://www.facebook.com/plantsinthemayanculture

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Filed under Chiapas, Indigenous Culture, Living in Mexico, Maya, Mexican Holidays, Mexico, Oaxaca, Uncategorized, WBTW

A Few of my Favorite Things in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

This is by no means a “top 10” list (maybe we’ll just start with 5) but these are some of the things I love to do/eat on my regular

Shopping! My favorite thing...

trips to San Cristobal for our work with  indigenous artisans from the highlands. ( I will be back there in a week and no doubt will have more to add…)

1. Wander. It is such an amazing city, well preserved from colonial times with high points to climb to, back streets to explore, and unprecedented people watching…The indigenous people (the majority of the population), especially the women, still dress in traditional clothing of their villages. Men from the warmer lowlands walk the chilly high altitude streets  bare-legged in hand woven tunics, and those from high altitudes walk the same streets in furry, sheep felt rugs that look like bear skins. —very fun and challenging to sort by their costumes, (see http://bit.ly/yBfkUg    for a fabulous lo res pdf book about these people and their textiles by Chip Morris, currently only available at Na Bolom museum/B&B in San Cristobal).

2. Eat French pastries. Not to be missed on the Real Guadalupe, made by real French people!

3. Cruise the markets… WOW! Santo Domingo (every day though the government is threatening to relocate it), the Mercado de Dulces (an indoor sweets and craft market, great on any day but especially rainy days) are the two big ones.

4. Slurp frozen yogurt sticks at the creamery (right) off of Real Guadalupe where there is also a daily vegetable market, hmm, near where the walking street ends).

5. Visit the locals market. (You can find it in any guide book) Huge and full of interesting things to see, but, like any market, be vigilante for pick pockets, etc. and be careful about taking photos. Many people take great offense at taking pictures of them or even their wares. Ask (you will probably have to pay) but even if you just wander through, it is fascinating.

More stories and pictures in a few weeks!

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Filed under Chiapas, Indigenous Culture, Indigenous Mexican women, Living in Mexico, Mexican Holidays, Mexican textiles, Mexico, San Cristobal de Las Casas, travel/shopping in Mexico, WBTW, Women Artisans

Huipiles and Whirlwinds

It has been awhile and there is much to catch up on with stories of our travels, the evolution of Latin Threads into our new brand, ABRAZOstyle, and of course, updates on our artisans! As we are busier now than ever, I’m afraid I have fallen behind with sharing our journey, my apologies. Please indulge me for a few more weeks, until the holidays, and I will catch up with more news.

Meanwhile, for those of you interested in learning more about the history of the huipil, here is a short description for you. If you are curious to learn more, below I’ve included a link to a fabulous new book about the textiles of the Chiapan highlands. A smaller version of the book with be coming out on Amazon around January.

Hasta pronto!
Adele

The huipil, a pre-columbian garment pervasive in Mezo America, can best be described as the canvas on which the wearer weaves her or his identity. It is a simple garment made from rectangular pieces of fabric woven on a back-strap loom, which are then folded in half and stitched together with a hole in the middle. Simple in construction but complex in its symbolism, each huipil portrays the celebration of daily life, honors the earth, the gods, the saints, and is a unique and personal statement about its maker. One can determine where the wearer is from, their marital status and even their religious beliefs at a glance.
The tradition of the huipil has been passed from generation to generation, with periods of great artistic flowering, as well as periods when the tradition was at risk of being lost forever. Today, the Mayan textile culture continues to thrive. Styles, colors, and techniques continue to evolve despite the move toward modernity that is ever more prevalent in villages throughout Chiapas and elsewhere in the Mayan world.

Image

Rosita threading her back-strap loom in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

– https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B0f-9JoAPGuCNDNlMTYyMDItYTYwNC00MzViLWIyMDAtODU0YzYyZWQ4Y2M0&hl=en_US <https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B0f-9JoAPGuCNDNlMTYyMDItYTYwNC00MzViLWIyMDAtODU0YzYyZWQ4Y2M0&hl=en_US>

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Filed under About Latin Threads Trading Co., Indigenous Culture, Indigenous Mexican women, Living in Mexico, Mexican blouses, Mexican textiles, Mexico, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Textiles Oaxaca, Women Artisans

A Best Kept Secret

The local hills surrounding Oaxaca city.

Preparing for my upcoming 6 week trip to Oaxaca takes no time at all compared to the amount of time I spend explaining the weather there. Yes, that’s right, the weather. When I mention to friends that I will be spending a healthy chunk of summer in Southern Mexico, they almost invariably gasp and stare at me incredulously… “How could you spend summer THERE? it must be blistering hot!”  Well, I will let you in on

Many varieties of orchids thrive all over Oaxaca state.

a little secret: summer is one of the best times to travel to Oaxaca. The inland area has pretty much the most perfect climate I have ever experienced with year ’round temps ranging  from  45  to 90 degrees and very low humidity (see: http://www.oaxacalive.com/weather.htm for more info.).

So, instead of staying in Oregon where it is hot, dry  and windy (Hood River), I love to travel to Oaxaca where everything is green, green, green,  flowers bloom in the fields and on road sides, and the short, sometimes daily, and often fierce, rain storms clean the air and wash the dust away (until the mud that flows onto the roads dries and turns to dust, that is). That leaky roof that hasn’t “needed” to be repaired for the last 7 months will have to wait until the dry season, the dying of fabric grinds to a halt because nothing dries when it is raining, and  the ladies will get lots of embroidery done indoors.

If you haven’t ever thought about Southern Mexico in summer, you should, but bring an umbrella, just in case.

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Filed under Living in Mexico, Mexican Holidays, Oaxaca, travel/shopping in Mexico, WBTW, weather in Oaxaca and Chiapas