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Q'ab'aj (Hands): The Mystical World of the Mayan Weavers of Guatemala

Americas Society / Council of the Americas

May 17, 2018


(Photo by Manny Rionda.)

In collaboration with:

Registration is closed but walk-ins can pay $10.

How can fashion be used as a vehicle to preserve traditional techniques? Join Young Professionals of the Americas (YPA) and MARIAS for an evening discussing social entrepreneurship and the intersection between Guatemalan craftsmanship and contemporary design. The evening will feature a panel, a walk-through of the weaving- and handbag-making process, a ritual performance, and a reception. We will hear insights from Guatemalan artisans Indri Paola Reanda Vásquez and José Isaias Tiney Sisay, industry expert Mayte Allende, Creative Director Edgar Navarro, and MARIAS Founder Alida Boer.


  • Alida Boer, Founder and CEO of MARIAS
  • Edgar Navarro, Creative Director of MARIAS
  • Mayte Allende, Creative Director of Bande Noir, Former Fashion Director at WWD
  • Indri Paola Reanda Vásquez, Guatemalan Artisan
  • José Isaias Tiney Sisay, Guatemalan Artisan
  • Beckie Bintrim, Associate of Membership and Development, AS/COA; Internal Committee, YPA (moderator)


Event information: Beckie Bintrim | | 1-212-277-8375

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About the speakers:

Alida Boer is the founder and CEO of MARIAS, a high-end luxury accessories brand. MARIAS combines her passion for fashion and design with desire to preserve traditional Guatemalan textiles. Moreover, Alida and MARIAS seek to empower women and make a difference in the world. In 2007, Alida won Miss Guatemala and competed in Miss Universe and Miss World. She traveled globally representing her country and developed her entrepreneurial, philanthropic, and creative instincts during this time. Alida began helping people in her homeland as a board member for Foundation Cambiando Vidas - a Montessori school that provides education and proper nutrition to 240 underprivileged children. In 2011, Alida created a business model with MARIAS that empowers Guatemalan women from every social class. She started MARIAS with a small group of women from a remote town called Pastores in Sacatepequez, Guatemala. Female equality in the workplace is an issue in Guatemala, and in remote areas, women have a harder time providing for their families. With MARIAS, Alida created over 500 jobs for women in Guatemala across different regions. These women are able to make a wage by weaving at home while looking after their families. MARIAS encourages and participates in fair trade weaving. Over the years, MARIAS expanded its business to design different kinds of accessories, from handbags to scarves. MARIAS has launched worldwide and has distributors and retail stores in Guatemala, London, New York, South Africa, Australia, Chile, Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. In 2016, Alida founded Ix Chebel, a handbag manufacturing facility in Guatemala that produces MARIAS and other accessories brands. Alida’s unique approach to business has awarded her with numerous accolades. She was named in Women of the Year in 2013 by Look Magazine as well as selected entrepreneur by the Universidad Franciso Marroquin and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor in 2013. Additionally, Alida was nominated General Manager of the Year for the Managers Association of Guatemala in 2015. In 2014, Alida became the ambassador of FUNSEPA in Guatemala. There are 3.2 million children in Guatemala between 6 to 15 years old, and 93 percent have no access to technology. This organization provides education through technology to undeveloped regions in Guatemala. In 2017, Alida was granted an Aspen Institute Central America Leadership Initiative (CALI) Fellowship. Alida is deeply passionate about curating couture artisanal weaving techniques and promoting the Guatemalan textile industry on a worldwide scale. She is constantly giving back to her country by supporting the local women and their families with education and fair payment.

Edgar Navarro is the creative director of MARIAS as well as the founder of his own clothing and jewelry brand, Maison Escarlata. His collections focus on the importance and quality of hand-made production techniques that are loaded with symbolism and emotional depth. His work has been featured in Vogue Mexico, Vogue Italia, Institute Magazine, L’Officiel Mexico, and multiple media platforms worldwide, including a piece that was featured as the winning look for American Beauty Star hosted by Adriana Lima. Edgar has managed to position himself as one of the most active designers in the Guatemalan and Central American fashion industry. He has collaborated with Central American brands Guishem and Eduardo Figueroa in addition to brands based in the United States and Europe. Navarro also creates visual arts projects using installations, illustrations, and plastic art.

Mayte Allende joined Fairchild Fashion W Magazine's Fashion Department on 2006 and worked under world renowned editors such as Alex White, Camilla Nickerson and Lori Goldstein, before moving over to WWD as a market editor and stylist. She became their fashion market director on 2014 covering and reporting on the women's European and American designer markets while styling all their fashion features and celebrity sittings. This past February, Mayte launched her own RTW collection and serves as a creative director consultant in NYC. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Mayte also has a bachelor of communications and journalism from the University of Puerto Rico. 

Indri Paola and Jose are Guatemalan weavers from Santiago Atitlán. They are both community leaders working with more than 50 women weavers in their region to develop different traditional techniques such as embroidery, mostacilla, and waist loom. They have helped develop and produce three collections with MARIAS since 2014, including the latest collection Magnolias.

Slideshow: The Mystical World of the Mayan Weavers of Guatemala

May 21, 2018

"Guatemala has the biggest textile heritage in the world," said MARIAS founder Alida Boer at the YPA event....