This Thursday, Founder Kara Wiegand and 6 Fair Trade Partners will travel to Guatemala to visit some of Threads Worldwide’s beloved Artisan Partners. This is Threads’ first trip with Fair Trade Partners, and it’s going to be an unforgettable experience. I sat down with Kara to ask her about it.
Kara, Angela, and Lindsay, the Founders of Threads Worldwide, traveled to Guatemala together about 2 years ago. The trio has ventured all over the world together, but this trip was particularly special. They fell in love, not only with the country, but with the individual Artisan Partners responsible for making our beautiful jewelry.
As Kara reflected on the visit, she told me about Maria Pacheco, who is known as the “Mother Teresa of Guatemala.” Maria started Wakami, an organization that transforms remote, poor villages by creating work opportunities, specifically for women. Wakami connected the Artisan Partners to Threads Worldwide, providing them a job opportunity and allowing us to market unique pieces such as the Dulce and Champey bracelets. The organization also facilitates opportunities for education, teaches proper nutrition, and connects the villagers to subsidized life-changing products like solar light bulbs, water filters, and smokeless stoves.
Maria and the Artisan Partners have organized Threads’ entire itinerary, from picking them up at the airport to arranging their accommodations. Kara and the Fair Trade Partners will spend time in Lake Atitlan (the same village the Founders visited 2 years ago), as well as another village with which Wakami partners. There they will hold a ‘Dreams’ workshop.
Kara said she’ll be sure to wear her Guatemalan jewelry — on their last visit, the Artisans were so excited to see the Founders wearing pieces they had made. Kara also can’t wait to show the Artisans Threads’ catalog, a symbolic gesture of the process truly coming full circle.
The most inspiring part of my conversation with Kara was when she spoke about partnership. She said what a powerful opportunity it is to speak with these women face to face and acknowledge the genuine equality of their relationship. It is true that the women of Threads empower the Artisans, but the Artisans empower the women of Threads as well — Threads Worldwide wouldn’t exist without them.
Especially when traveling to a country less developed than The States, it’s so important to remember that we are not reaching down, and we are not above anyone else. Our everyday lives may appear dramatically dissimilar, but humans across the globe have more in common than not.
Kara put it beautifully: “For women specifically, there are so many similarities we face, and it looks a little different, but deep down, they’re the same issues. They’re the same issues of self-worth, of belonging, of opportunity.”
“We are global sisters,” said Kara, “and we need them as much as they need us.”