We believe that dignified work and education breaks poverty cycles. Our commitment is to invest in resources to create fair jobs for those involved in our project.
Guatemala is a very poor country, 54% of the population lives in poverty and 13% in extreme poverty. 2 million children, mostly girls, do not attend school. Even in poverty, Guatemalans are hardworking people with great values and desire to overcome this adversities. This is why Olivia & Elena decided to invest in people that want opportunities to improve their lives.
Olivia & Elena is not a charity project, it is a project that seeks to create a better future with a sustainable solution.
Our program empowers women, paying fair wages and teaching them to value their work. It provides the tools to achieve an economic independence and break with the cycles of poverty improving their quality of life.
Many children, especially those living in rural areas, are forced to leave school because they can not cover the costs for books, supplies, uniforms and transportation. Boys are sent to work in agriculture fields with their fathers. Girls stay at home helping their mothers with the housework or as young teenagers, sent away to get married.
Children are the future, not only for Guatemala, but also for the world. These little human beings have the right to not to have to work to support their families, and to be forced into getting married. They have the right to study, to be loved and to be treated with respect.
To reduce school drop-out cases, 10% of our sales goes to contribute with the education of our artisans’ children.
It is our world, yours and ours. We are aware of the footprint that fashion has had on our environment. This is why each huipil (the base textile of our designs) is measured and calculated to be used at its maximum and reduce textile disposal. In some designs we use huipiles that have been already worn by women as daily clothes but still are in excellent condition.
Our brand seeks to give back and create opportunities through each of our designs. We look to leave something better in the lives of all the persons involved, including you.
We know it's not yet that time of year when you start thinking about resolutions for the next year, but you should not wait for that specific time to focus on new goals.
We want to tell you a little more about our purposes with the Olivia & Elena project.
If you've heard about us, you know that we seek to empower guatemalan artisans, specifically women and their families. This is our purpose # 1.
But there is more, let us tell you that Guatemala is a country full of spectacular, hardworking, smart, educated, and strong people. Even with all these qualities Guatemala is a country that needs support. That is why with the Olivia & Elena project our main goal is to show the world these women’s awesome work.
By making more people around the world to know Guatemala and everything good in it, we generate work to support these families. This is our purpose # 2.
We know children are the future and educating guatemalan children is one of our most important goals. Through the Olivia & Elena project, we support many mothers giving them the chance to send their children to school, which is not totally free in Guatemala. Outside the Olivia & Elena project there are many children, which their mothers are not involved in our project or sadly they are orphans, that do not benefit.
This is why our purpose # 3 is to provide education for more Guatemalan children through our project.
The opportunity we have had through the Olivia & Elena project to show Guatemala and its people, work, art and culture to the world is something we are grateful.
Being located in the city of Basel, Switzerland has been an important key to reach people through Europe and to achieve our purposes. Once again thank you!
And you, which are your purposes?
Olivia & Elena
Photo - www.jonkaplan.com
Huipil (pronounced wee-peel) is the Spanish word for the traditional blouses worn by Mayan women for many centuries. Clothing is of great cultural significance to the Mayan, and the huipil is the most prevalent part of a woman’s traditional dress. The weave or design of each huipil can identify her individual personality and the village she is from, as well as her marital, social, wealth, and religious status. The patterns and meanings on the huipil have remained the same over the years since the ancient Maya civilization. It is a sign of respect to wear a huipil design from another community when visiting their village, but it is not common to wear others’ designs within one’s own village. Women may own several huipils, both for everyday use as well as ceremonial purposes or special occasions.
Guatemalan women have hand-woven their clothing on a back strap loom for centuries and pass along the tradition through the years. They start with raw wool or cotton that they wash, comb and spin. Then they stretch the threads along a warping board and attach it to the loom. The designs are created by weaving colored yarns into the cloth as it is being woven. The process is called brocade, which is different than embroidery where the colored threads are stitched into the completed garment. The weaver sometimes will use natural dyes, such as flowers, plants, insects, bark, or berries but has recently introduced rayon and silk materials into some of the textiles.
When a huipil is finished it is a work of art and can sometimes take months to complete. If it is made well it can last up to 30 years. Artisans in Guatemala make huipils to help to support their families and improve their living conditions, but they are also an important part of culture and are worn widely among the natives of Guatemala. They will continue to reflect femininity, identity, and tradition through the generations.