Ixoki A’J Quiemo L’, Santiago Zamora, Guatemala

2009 – 2010

Santiago ladys showing work

In Santiago Zamora we worked with the weaving cooperative Ixoki A’J Quiemo L’ (“Native Women Weavers” in the Kaqchikel language). In the beginning we worked with the community to create a video of who they are, what their town is about, and what they want to share about their culture and traditions. The video is a combination of footage shot by us, by them, as well as photos taken by the kids from a participatory photography workshop led by New School students.

On the business side we spent a lot of time on strategy and “fair wages”. In one exercise the women broke down their product costs to extract each piece’s hourly pay rate and then we contrasted this with the national minimum wage. This new understanding of labor costs coupled with their knowledge of the local artisanal goods market led to make some needed production and pricing adjustments.

We also conducted a design critique of the cooperative’s artisan goods. As homework, we asked Ixoki to come up with a product that would take them just an afternoon to make (as opposed to 300 hours for a table runner) – the following day, they came to the workshop with a prototype for a bracelet! There was a workshop as first step for new designs, so that they might distance themselves from using existing design patterns which are sold in local markets all over Guatemala.

As Ixoki A’J Quiemo L’ has a community tourist program, we decided to focus on that initiative:we experienced the program (as tourists) and provided them feedback and suggestions; we redesigned their branding materials adding a logo and english translation; our student team also mapped out a distribution strategy for Antigua – a nearby city with a more active tourist market.

Ixoki A’J Quiemo L’


Hashel Al Lamki, Parsons, Architectural Design
Isabella Amstrup, Parsons, Integrated Design
Lindsey Jochets, Parsons, History of Decorative Arts and Design
Tatom Henrich, Parsons, Product Design
Aakriti Kumar, Parsons, Product Design
Brianna Morris, Parsons, Design and Management
Arielle Paredes, Parsons, Integrated Design
Mindy Tom, Parsons, Product Design
Lisa Ahn, Milano, Organizational Change Management
Linda Cadavid, The New School, International Affairs
Melissa Edwards, The New School, International Affairs
Lindsay Mazzocco, The New School, International Affairs
Flannery Miller, The New School, International Affairs
Shannan Smith, The New School, International Affairs
Monica Toledo Fraginals, Parsons, Integrated Design
Anita Wahi, The New School, International Affairs
Paula Winograd Caycedo, Parsons, Design and Technology


Cynthia Lawson, Associate Professor of Integrated Design, Parsons
Fabiola Berdiel, Director, International Field Program, The New School
Pascale Gatzen, Associate Professor, Parsons


Funding Support
Parsons School of Design Strategies


Special Thanks / Partners
Universidad de los Andes’ Department of Design


Resources and Links


A story of group dynamics

As was the case with our first group, Ajkem’a Loy’a, in San Lucas Toliman, this summer we have experienced our bit of small-town gossip, envy, and jealousy, and a translation of the personal into the professional as the women’s groups in Santiago Zamora have been created, dissolved, and reconfigured to … Continued

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A new product (already!)

On Friday, during our first meeting in Santiago Zamora we briefly discussed with the cooperative that they need to be strategic about what they make in terms of pricing. As an example, we used a long belt they were weaving (they traditionally use a backstrap loom woven belt/sash to tie … Continued

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The tourist program

During the spring semester course at Parsons, Designing Collaborative Development, our student team prototyped ideas they felt could benefit the group of artisan women in Santiago Zamora.  The overarching idea was to promote their village as a tourist destination with a series of activities and workshops that the group would … Continued

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Logo prototypes

We want to help Ixoki A’J Quiemo L’ (the Mayan weavers cooperative in Santiago Zamora) brand themselves so as to create stronger promotional materials for them to distribute in Antigua and attract more tourists to their village. Here are some ideas we developed this weekend and which we will present … Continued

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We have divided our days into doing field research around Antigua, which is the most touristy city in Guatemala, full of cafés, restaurants, and of course, tourists studying spanish and looking for interesting day excursions in nearby areas.  It is those tourists that we believe we can invite to visit … Continued

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Our first visit with Santiago Zamora

Friday afternoon was our first visit to Santiago Zamora with the artisan group with whom we are working.  After a wonderfully folkloric trip on the jam-packed public bus, we arrived to San Antonio Aguas Calientes from where we then took a small van to our final destination. We met with … Continued

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Our team

This is the summer 2010 team that will be working in Antigua and Santiago Zamora, Guatemala until late June.  This year we have 7 students and 1 faculty member, all from Parsons. From left to right, front row: Mindy Tom (BFA Product Design), Arielle Paredes (BFA Integrated Design), Brianna Morris … Continued

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We’re back in Guatemala!

We are thrilled to be back in Guatemala and will be updating you via this site during the next 10 days.  This summer we are prototyping a smaller scale initiative that will be implemented and tested by our team of 7 Parsons students in collaboration with the artisan women of … Continued

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They Have a Name!

We are excited to announce that the women in Santiago Zamora have come to an agreement on a name for their association: Ixoki A’J ru xel Quiem or “Señoras Tejedoras Nativas.” We have been working with the official group of 11 women to create a set of rules and regulations, … Continued

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Centro de Mesa: Q1.5/hour; Pulsera: Q10/hour; Knowing How to Price Your Products Fairly: Priceless.

Yesterday, we had a successful pricing workshop with the women of Santiago Zamora, after discussing fair wages and business strategies the previous day. We asked them to tell us the products they made that took the least amount of time to make and the prices they currently sell them for. … Continued

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Kids-with-Cameras Project in Santiago Zamora We have finally begun our “kids-with-cameras” project with the sons and daughters of “Las Estrellas de Santiago Zamora.”  Our first day of teaching photography to the kids, although a bit hectic due to the rain, went extremely well.  First practicing with digital cameras, our young … Continued

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Filming in Santiago Zamora

As we push open the corrogated metal gate to Lucia’s yard we hear the familiar sounds of life in Santiago Zamora–Emmanuel’s tiny feet on the dirt as he giggles and hides behind his mothers corte, the puppies whining from beneath thier overturned basket (which keeps them from chewing on the … Continued

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A Beautiful Walk in Santiago

The work in Santiago Zamora continued with the women taking us for a walk up to see Bernarda’s plot of land, which her family rents and she works on with her husband and sons. She led the way with her sharp machete through fields and fields of beautiful fertile land … Continued

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Video project: Santiago Zamora

We kicked off our work in Santiago Zamora by working with the community to create a video of who they are, what their town is about, and what they want to share about their culture and traditions. This activity has been great in helping strengthen the group (they were not … Continued

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La Comunidad de Santiago Zamora / Santiago Zamora’s Community

This video was edited by one of our students with footage shot mainly by our collaborators in Santiago Zamora. It was a storytelling warm-up about their community via the 5 senses, for the larger media project we are working on together.

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Our student team

Every time I travel with a team of students for an international project, I truly believe that group could never be surpassed in their energy, skills, support for one another, and eagerness to learn. I have, again, been proven wrong. This year’s team is yet another superb group of students … Continued

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Our work in Guatemala – Three Locations

This year we returned to Guatemala with two goals: to continue the work we had started last year with Ajkem’a Loy’a in San Lucas Tolimán, and to expand our work in Guatemala with other communities in other towns/villages. We are excited to report back that we are on track in … Continued

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Santiago Zamora

We have been working in the municipality of San Antonio Aguas Calientes since the beginning of June, and we finally had the opportunity to visit Santiago Zamora – a small village that is part of San Antonio and just a 5-minute drive. In Santiago we have found an eager and … Continued

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Teaching Spaces

To be resourceful is always a prevalent, yet unpredictable, learning opportunity that these kinds of fieldwork programs offer to our students. This year, in particular, we have had some challenging moments when it comes to teaching spaces – not always knowing if we have to hold an impromptu workshopon the … Continued

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Overheard in Antigua, Guatemala

A family of tourists overheard at one of the many stalls of Antigua’s large artisan market: Man (holding a football/soccer jersey up) asking vendor, “Do you have a jersey from America?” Vendor (referring to the Latin American football teams that are called ‘America’) replies in Spanish, “No, that one is … Continued

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Back in Guatemala – faculty & students

We are happy to be back in Guatemala. This year we are doing things a bit differently. First, we are excited to be working with a new group of artisan women. We are partnering with the municipality of the town of San Antonio de Aguas Calientes and starting off by … Continued

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