Friendship Bridge client since 2003; part of Handmade by Friendship Bridge® since 2018.

Santos is a resident of Caserio Chuacruz, Sector Cipresales. One of seven children, she only had the chance to complete one year of formal education before going to work. The man she married at 18 turned out to be abusive. Eight years later, Santos returned home with the resolve of improving her situation.

The Artisan’s History
Together with her grandmother and sisters, Santos learned to make and sell all kinds of colorful traditional Guatemalan textiles. She became skilled at dying fabric using natural materials as well as the Ikat weaving technique that is well-known among the indigenous Maya (sometimes called Jaspe). To create Ikat designs, threads tie-dyed before weaving, resulting in distinctive, multicolored patterns. Santos broke boundaries by teaching herself to weave using a floor loom, a tool that is traditionally only used by men. Today, she is part of a household in which four generations of women—her grandmother, mother, Santos herself, and her daughter—all work together in support of her textile business.

The Friendship Bridge Impact
Joining Friendship Bridge marked a turning point for Santos—her motivation to succeed was fueled by caring for her two daughters. She also started setting goals for herself: to grow her weaving business, provide education for her daughters, and build her own home. She has since achieved all three. Santos’s eldest daughter, Sandra, has finished high school and now works as her business partner. Since Santos lacks the ability to read, write, or speak Spanish, Sandra manages the business's administrative side, assisting her mother with the language barrier, handling bookkeeping, and supervising employees, particularly when Santos is unwell. 

Santos looks forward to growing and expanding her business even more. Her daughter Sandra hopes to take over the business someday, so that the art of creating traditional Guatemalan textiles is not lost.