Utz means good in Maya Quiché (pronounced key-ch-eh), which is the most spoken Maya language in Guatemala. It's a region, a language and has its own way of life that's played a role in everything we are. Utz Threads is a socially conscious brand that partners with weavers from the highlands of Guatemala, in Chichicastenango. We work to promote their ancestral knowledge through handmade products that tell a story about who the women are and what everyday life is like for them. We promote Fair Trade values by watching every aspect of the supply chain to ensure fair pay, safe working conditions and a mutually respectful relationship with the women. We believe that this work is about reciprocity meaning we’re all part of a bigger community where we share cultural knowledge and skills between groups of people from different parts of the world to help each other grow. Utz Threads promotes conversation and sharing in a respectful and mutual way that allows for a dignified relationship for all involved.
The ladies and I after one of our meetings, March 2017
My name is Cinthya Flores and I started working with the women late 2016, right after finishing graduate school for entrepreneurship. I went from Redwood City, California to spend a year in the small town of Chichicastenango and learn about what fair trade practices looked like in action. I didn’t have much of an idea about the culture I was going to live with, but I knew that my curious heart would be so content. Most of my guesses proved to be right! I was insanely excited to observe quietly as the women began our group meetings in Quiché leaving me to appreciate the tones and distinguish the few Spanish words that were thrown in. I would try to piece together the conversation in my mind until they would later translate into Spanish. I loved walking aimlessly through the market trying to take in all the colors, sounds and smells as quickly as possible while walking through dense crowds of people.
Looking up on a random side street to this view, March 2017
Chichicastenango is caught between gorgeous mountain ranges in the region of Quiché. It has a market that dates back to pre colonizer times and still holds on proudly to its Maya roots. On any given day you can be walking down the cobblestone streets and run across spiritual leaders dressed in traditional garb on their way to a ceremony. Other times you can be caught off guard by a loud pack of dogs barking at you from the rooftop of a neighbors house. It's almost impossible not to be overwhelmed with emotion at everything there is to learn, see and experience in this remarkable little town. And that's just a tiny bit of the overall wondrous Maya culture, which really is divided into many subsets that vary in aspects like dress, language and lifestyle depending on what part of the country you're in!
The sun rays around Candy's neck represent Chichicastenango. "When I travel outside of Chichi(castenango) I walk into an unfamiliar place proudly knowing that people can identify where I'm from." Photo: Kevin Tzoc, 2017
Through Utz Threads we want to show you the beauty and strength that is Chichicastenango and the weavers we work with. From the ancestral weaving techniques to the very much alive Maya Quiché culture, the products hold a piece of all of its power. Through our products we'd like to offer you a daily connection to the women's ancestral beliefs and allow you to share it in your world. We truly hope this page and this brand can inspire you to learn more about weaving traditions and the people they comes from. I'm sure you'll always find something to help you understand the fire that this community was born out of. Sign up for our newsletter to read more interesting stories and follow us on Instagram to learn about our next moves!