My story has always been entwined in Guatemala.
My Greek American father and Guatemalan mother raised me and my two siblings while also running an orphanage in Guatemala for the first seven years of my life. Ever since I moved to the U.S. I always felt a pull back to Guatemala. I guess now I know why (there’s a theory out there that we feel a pull to places we are destined to end up in) and I really do believe in it.So that’s how it all began; summer of my freshman year in college I spent three months living in rural Huehuetenango, Guatemala as an intern for a NGO working with a children’s home and bilingual school.
That summer is when I met an artisan in Panajachel (where Woven is now based) named Sebastiana. Items in the markets were selling at such low prices, that even if you were looking for a bargain, you knew something was off because prices were so low. After a conversation about the lack of tourism that summer, I learned that Sebastiana and neighboring artisans were being forced to lower prices to appeal to the few visitors and compete in the markets. The paradox of that situation sparked something in me that day. I was standing in my own country witnessing abject poverty while being completely removed from it and I wasn’t okay with that. I purchased about $75 more of items (all I had left in my savings) and headed back to Florida to begin my sophomore year of college.
Being back at school, I delved into my classes (International Affairs & Portuguese major) and began searching for opportunities to go back to Guatemala. I was relentless. I felt a piece of me still back in Guat and I also felt an insatiable conviction to play a role in my country’s state, no matter how small. It was in that moment that I began seeing a higher purpose to a degree, to an income, and to life itself. Everything suddenly made sense. It was not coincidence that I had this dual citizenship and ability to live as both a Guatemalan and American. It wasn’t chance that allowed me to receive a quality education in the US and have access to endless resources. It was my calling. I knew that my role as both an American and Guatemalan could have huge potential. That’s when I began Woven.
The past year and a half since then have been an exhilarating, scary, roller-coaster ride of a whirlwind. Our story has just begun and there are no words to describe the commitment and passion that I have for the movement and values of Woven. I hope the work we do inspires others to delve a little deeper into the meaning of what they do; whether that is how we pursue our passions, how we treat others, or even how we shop. It all makes a difference.