Weaving started as a means to make clothing for the cold Oaxaca mountain air. Woven on backstrap looms, designs were inspired by the land, animals, and Mayan spiritual beliefs. Virgin wool was locally sourced from a nearby farmer, naturally bleached, and washed clean in the village river. Plants, fruits, seeds, bark and insects were used to dye the wool into vibrant colors, mixed together in specific combinations to make hundreds of shades. These combinations are never shared, like any good family recipe. Four generations later, the Mendoza family continues to weave their ancestors’ Zapotec designs. The men still work in their homes, now on manual pedal looms, and the women still naturally dye the wool with the same resources found on their land. Their children start learning the process around age eight.
Global economic recession and the slowing of tourism in Oaxaca have hit the Mendoza’s village hard. There is little certainty that the new generation of Mendoza weavers will make a sustainable income from the artisanal techniques of those that have gone before them. We support their academic education, while they receive their artisanal education, by investing 10% of our profits into scholarships for the Mendoza children.