AurumEve Travels Studio Visit: Wakami

We had the pleasure of visiting with Erick Velasquez of WakamiKiej de los Bosques created the brand Wakami in 2006, and has grown quickly in a very short amount of time. We met in San Cristobal for a studio visit and to learn more about Wakami’s vision and accomplishments through community involvement and staying true to unique and lasting cultural design.

We met up with Erick at Cuatro Caminos, a crossroads that intersects the major roads that lead to Quetzaltenango and Totonicapán  to, and took a camioneta down to San Cristóbal Totonicapán  to head down the slope to visit an artist workshop.

What we left with was a wonderful and memorable experience with a truly wonderful group of people.

“The physical world changes when we’re able to change something inside of us.” Maria Pacheo

Maria Pacheo, the founder of Kiej de los Bosques and her team take the approach of entering the global market by claiming a space for themselves and providing quality, beautiful products.  Maria maintains and has proven that it is not about people doing things for you, but about people working, dreaming– and ultimately finding the way together.

Kiej de los Bosques works within local communities, empowering women and young ladies to be able to create something of their own to sustain themselves and their families. Through design, Kiej de los Bosques provides opportunities for individuals to help themselves by building business acumen and experience. For many, this is the first opportunity to have a direct impact on their livelihoods and future. This income can be used towards healthcare, education and other basic needs. Women as well as young girls participate, creating a stronger community within. Given the focus on sustainable self-elevation out of limited resources, there is a minimum age requirement to work, so that the girls can go to school and are not forced to choose between academic education and personal and professional education through joining Kiej de los Bosques.

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Kiej de los Bosques Inclusive Business Model is geared towards members of rural communities realizing themselves as local entrepreneurs through mentorship through Communities of the Earth, and access to a global economy. This simple yet vital design facilitates a value chain where everyone, from the artisan to the marketers plays an important and empowering role.

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Not only does this work affect mothers and the youth – the cultivators and gatekeepers of community strength, it creates an opportunity for Guatemala to share its beautiful crafts with a global economy. The beautiful products are tightly and perfectly stitched and tied, as well as unique in their design.

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AurumEve: Do you have a lead designer, or are designs by artisans or a team? ¿Tiene un diseñador jefe , o son diseños de artesanos o un equipo ?

KiejDeLosBosques: Yes, we have a team in Guatemala City that leads in design. They study what is in fashion: color patterns, design, and material. Right now, we’ve had much success in the global market with the bracelets that are designed with colors themed to specific countries flag colors.

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AurumEve: I truly admire Wakami’s vision: an encompassing world for all. It is so simple, yet true. For me, great is being able to educate yourself and feed your family, and being able to live safely and explore the world and your life without hardship. What does Wakami mean? Me encanta la visión : un gran mundo para todos. Es tan simple, pero cierto. Para mí , grande es ser capaz de educarse a sí mismo y alimentar a su familia, y ser capaz de vivir con seguridad y explorar el mundo y su vida sin privaciones . ¿Qué significa para usted?

KiejDeLosBosques: For me, it’s an exchange. Kiej de los Bosques is collaboration with the artists, merchants and the community. It’s about connection. It’s about fulfilling your dreams and aspirations. Young people came here to do this productive work so that they can fulfill their dreams and aspirations through this opportunity.

“Wakami means ‘it already is’ in Kaqchiquel, a Guatemalan Mayan language. For us, the ideal world already exists, we just need to find the gate into it.” Maria Pacheo

 The Dream Board for all the members of Kiej de los Bosques – being able to envision your goals is a key in successful empowerment and entrepreneurshipDSC01707 as Smart Object-1 copy

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AurumEve: Tell us a little bit about Maria? Cuéntame la historia de María Pacheco ?

KiejDeLosBosques: Maria wants to see a better world for everyone, a green world. She started working with the environment and agriculture earlier in her career, later creating pieces with wood, now she has expanded to jewelry and works with over eighteen groups in Guatemala. She saw that the same principals of connecting people to the market were a key.

 

AurumEve: Maria’s vision has expanded so much over the years. It is interesting that (if I am correct) originally you were focused on working within Guatemala. Was it a natural or obvious choice to begin business in the US? Or did you have to really consider it? La visión de María ha expandido tanto en los últimos años . Es interesante que ( si no me equivoco ) que originalmente estuviera enfocado en trabajar dentro de Guatemala . ¿Fue una elección natural u obvio para empezar negocios en los estados unidos. ? ¿O usted tiene que considerar realmente ?

KiejDeLosBosques:  While Guatemala is small country, there are many rich opportunities throughout, and Guatemala and our art have much to offer to the world. This is how we’ve grown and we’ve worked with the United States – but also over nineteen other countries. It is Maria’s vision is that we continue to grow more and more in a healthy and strong way.

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“Wakami believes that when people are truly

connected with their dreams and are given an

opportunity, they rise to the occasion to make

their dreams reality.”

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As you can see, my hair made its own entrance! 

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 Thank you so much for an unforgettable afternoon Erick and team!

A special thank you to Lorena Argueta for your time and facilitation!

As Kiej de los Bosques continues to grow, we wish you continued success and are proud to have spent time with you!

 

Images courtesy of Kiej de los Bosques and Raymond Bourraine. Video courtesy of Soul Biographies and Raymond Bourraine.

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