Women Behind M&J: Ana Maria the First M&J Artisan
All of the women behind our brand have a unique and remarkable journey. Many of our artisans come from extreme poverty backgrounds, but through their hard work and perseverance, they have paved a way for themselves into a brighter future. Here at M&J we are truly privileged to provide a creative outlet for them as well as fair wages for their beautiful work.
One such story is that of our first artisan in Guatemala. Her name is Ana Maria. She told us that when she was a young girl she would attend public school. However, since their family was so poor and couldn’t afford notebooks, her parents would buy individual pages and cut pencils in half so she and her three siblings could share.
As early as seven years old, she started to learn her mother’s trade--embroidering, and became quite efficient by age nine. Her embroidered blouses and napkins would sell between 10-20 cents a piece. After elementary school, she attended secondary school. It was an easier time since her parents had improved economically. Her mother helped by selling spare parts, and her father had a monthly income. Her mother used to say that "women get married, have children, and study for fun", however Ana Maria did not agree with her mentality. She knew how important education was for progress, so she decided to move from her hometown in San Pedro la Laguna to the city where she could continue studying. After finishing three years of secretarial work studies, she returned to San Pedro la Laguna, where she started to work at a Spanish school. Ana Maria’s hard work and study efforts started to pay off. While working at the Spanish school, another door opened. Montie & Joie!
This time, she found an opportunity to mix her childhood craft with her studies. M&J provided another source of income that proved to be a big economic help to her family, especially during times where the Spanish school had to reduce operations because of the pandemic. M&J provided not only an income, but also a creative outlet where she could combine working on pre-designed art, as well as creating her own. Ana Maria’s story is truly inspiring for all of us as women and we are lucky to be a small part of her journey! You can also be a part of it and support her journey by purchasing some of her talented artwork here!