Founded by Alida Boer, a former beauty queen, Maria’s Bag is an initiative empowering the women from the rural areas of Pastores, Antigua, Guatemala to earn an income and improve their quality of life.
A social activist with a background in fashion, Bower set up the handbag business to promote the culture of her home country while at the same time benefitting the people and the economy.
The women working at the center are trained in tailoring, designing and leather craftsmanship. Coming from low-income families, they are given a monthly income for working on the project. Their children are also educated, fed and their medical needs met by the Camiando Vidas School.
Among the women who work with the project is Glendy, 28 years old and married with 2 children. She speaks passionately about the initiative and how it has changed her life. Her son suffers from a heart condition and because of the income she now earns, she is able to buy him medicine and provide him medical treatment that she was unable to afford before she started working for Maria’s Bag.
The Mayan women have a strong sense of style and the color, print, pattern and figures are all symbolic of the village they come from, their marital status and other significant facts. Once the patterns and colors are dyed, the weaving process begins. Weaving is a strenuous task and can take up to 3 months to complete. Determined to promote the Mayan culture, Maria’s Bag follows the same techniques and each bag has a unique story behind it.
The bags are a combination of top quality leather and traditional textile, with bright colors and patterns that represent the Mayan culture and heritage. Each of the bags is handmade with a weaving style that has been passed down for centuries in the Guatemalan culture.
The shapes of the bags are modern and practical, with a complete range of clutches, totes, and travel bags in different sizes. There is also an extensive collection of Polo Bags that cater to the men. The design is unique and on trend, ensuring that they are in line with the current styles and demand in the market.
Boer is dedicated to social change and hopes to expand her business into other areas in Guatemala.
By carrying a handbag made by Maria’s Bag, you are not only making a fashion statement, but also supporting a community.
– Saira Malik
Images courtesy of Maria’s Bag