Meet María

Meet María

Meet María

Friendship Bridge client since 2009; part of Handmade by Friendship Bridge® since 2018

María comes from the community of Caserío Santa María El Tablón in the department of Sololá. Her mother died when she was six and she attended school through sixth grade, after which time she worked with her father and brothers.

The Artisan’s History
Growing up, María worked alongside her father and brothers in the development of sewing products and handicrafts, and she grew to enjoy the work. She sold textiles and crafts to tourists from a stall on Calle Santander, the main street in Panajachel. When she married at 17, María and her husband operated a beaded jewelry business together on Calle Santander for which María managed the finances. They partnered with other bead artisans and their business grew considerably.

The Friendship Bridge Impact

When María separated from her husband, he took over the business. But it wasn’t long before the business ceased to be profitable without María as a partner. María worked hard to earn money on her own—she moved back to her father’s house with her six children and began to rebuild her business. Many of her former customers sought her out again due to her quality products, and she joined Friendship Bridge for a small business loan. Her hard work has helped her children graduate from high school.

Maria has found training on product development and quality control particularly beneficial. In 2019, she was awarded the prestigious Citi Prize Award for her unique beaded designs. In 2020, thanks to a donation to Handmade by Friendship Bridge®,  she was awarded a sewing machine. “I had never before felt so challenged to work hard on new designs," she says. 

Her business success has allowed her to give back to her community, providing food and part-time work opportunities to many women in need.

Maria is committed to ensuring her children have access to more opportunities and plans to go into business with them. She hopes to build commercial units that she can rent out to other businesses and also use for her own sales. She would also like to start a small garden and sell the fruit that she harvests, as well as open a bakery that her son could someday operate.

Will you donate to support our artisans?

When you donate by July 31, your donation will be matched by a generous $3k distribution from the Marilyn Lone Endowment for Artisans.