Maya Traditions Journal > Meet Maya Traditions’ Latest Design Partner: Ara Collective

“We believe every person—despite the social, economic or geographic situation they were born into—deserves the freedom to discover, to dream andto thrive.” Traditions Foundation is proud to announce an exciting new partnership with social entrepreneur Sarah Contrucci Smith and her new business Ara Collective. Ara Collective is a socially responsible company that works alongside artisans to develop unique, handcrafted products that blend traditional craftsmanship with modern style. In preparation for the launch of her business, Sarah visited Guatemala and traveled to our communities to meet our artisans and observe their work.

Growing up in Indonesia, Sarah was provided with the opportunity to learn about a culture and a unique set of values different from those found in the Western world. Her experiences abroad developed within her a deep love for travel and culture.  When Sarah later moved to southern California at the age of 15, she recalls feeling more comfortable in the chaos of Mexico, a few hours away, from her home within

Initially drawn to the natural beauty of Guatemala, the socially conscious designer had visited the country many times before. On the most recent trip, she returned to reconnect with artisans, design and develop products, as well as learn more about the challenges that artisans and their communities face. While Sarah was here she visited our artisans in the San Jan La Laguna cooperative, who are developing the intricately weaved ikat textiles for her new product line.

“We tend to believe that quality and talent come out of places with perfect facilities, documented processes, and machines, but I think it’s quite the opposite. Quality and talent come out of places that designs and techniques are time-tested, are crafted by a real person, and tell the stories of the people and land which they come from.”

Sarah has big hopes for the upcoming launch of Ara Collective’s online shop, which opens June 9th, 2015. (1)The store will be featuring a variety of backstrap woven products from the highlands of Guatemala, as well as southern Mexico. We’re excited to see how this partnership continues to develop, best benefiting our artisans, their families, and communities.

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