~ about ixöq ~
ixöq (ee-sh-auk), which means women in the Mayan dialects, Kaqchikel and Tzutujil, is a social enterprise that works with local women from Mayan communities in Guatemala to create unique, ethically made, locally sourced, fair trade products. Our products are fun, colorful, festive and useful, all while honoring the culture and tradition of the women. ixöq designs each item in partnership with the artisans and our proceeds support the women and the nonprofit or cooperative groups who support them. We ensure that each artisan is paid a fair wage and plays an integral role in the design and creation process.
To honor the traditions of and provide support to women artisans of Guatemala through a partnership focused on the design, production and sale of sustainably sourced, fair trade, handmade goods.
ixöq strives to honor the artisans, their work and their Mayan heritage while sharing the beauty and culture of Guatemala with a broader market. ixöq offers high quality, well made items that are created with respect for the local culture and by the hands of the local population. This provides secure employment while empowering local artisans to create beautiful products to be shared and enjoyed by many.
ixöq’s mission can only be achieved through our strong partnerships with local community groups. We partner with many women artisans who are employed through these collective groups. By working with a group, the women receive the training, support and supplies needed for their craft, as well as market opportunities that otherwise may be inaccessible. Thus far, ixöq has provided work for over 30 women in the villages of San Juan la Laguna, Santa Cruz la Laguna, and San Cristóbal, Totonicipán. As ixöq grows this number and the geographic region where we work will continue to grow.
~ about us ~
We are ixöq’s owners, friends and neighbors Katie Leary Sebastian and Becky Smith. We collectively have spent over 30 years traveling back and forth to Guatemala and share a love and appreciation for the stunning landscape, the Mayan culture, and the beautiful textiles handcrafted by local artisans. Over time we have gotten to know a few groups that train women in a trade to help them gain financial independence. In 2017 we sought to collaborate with these artisans and help share some of their beautiful creations. In particular, we fell in love with the local market bags, handwoven using recycled plastic cord, and knew these cestas (basket in spanish) would be a big hit in the States. And thus ixöq was born.
Becky & I work to combine our design skills with the skills of our partner artisans and have created a brand that provides sustainable employment for women artisans, and promotes & sells fair trade, ethically sourced goods. Our goal is to provide economic support to the women while bringing unique and desirable products to a US market. We have built ixöq around a model of giving back and all purchases provide direct income to the artists. The best part about this endeavor has been working with and getting to know all of these wonderful women!
To keep ixöq going and growing, Katie runs the day to day operations and Becky serves as an advisor and fabulous travel partner, while maintaining full-time employment as a public health specialist in Montgomery County. When not visiting and working in Guatemala, we both live in Takoma Park, with our spouses and a couple of dogs each. We enjoy spending time with our young adult children who breeze through town from time to time (some more and some less these days due to Covid), and who also love and cherish their time spent in Guatemala.
Contact Us Here!