Estela is the founder and owner of Xi-Guia, a now 35-year old tapestry workshop in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. Like so many other artisans in the surrounding regions, she has had to make monumental efforts to come this far.
Estela was born into a family of Zapotec descent who have been tapestry-makers for generations. Her mother passed when she was just a baby and so she was primarily raised by her grandmother, who taught her everything she knows about tapestry-making. A very young Estela would observe the day-to-day routines of her family's tapestry business, which was primarily ran by the male members of her family. There were days, sometimes weeks, when they could not make a single sale and had to travel far our to try to find buyers. Estela didn't want to sit there with her arms crossed so she decided to take matters into her own hands. She set out, along with a couple of her cousins, to the city of Oaxaca to try their luck selling some tapestries. They managed to rent a space for seven days but did not have money to return home every day. For seven days, they slept through cold and rain, with nearly nothing to eat, and sold nothing.
Now maybe some people would have quit by now but Estela was determined. She noticed how tourists all carried bags and there came an idea.
"Why not make tapestry bags?"
No one she knew of had tried it but she knew that she had to offer something different. She got to work, made a total of seven bags over the next few weeks, and tried to her luck again in Oaxaca City. Eureka! All of the bags sold within three days. Estela was onto something and, through conversations with tourists, began refining her bags over time. The sales continued and it was not long before she founded her own brand - one of the first few women to do so in her community.
Today, Estela contues to work very hard, putting in an average of twelve hours a day to make ends meet. She has a family team of twelve people, all with overlapping roles who help make bags, tapestries, and other wool accessories. She wants to continue to innovate as a designer while maintining the Zapotec principles of the art. We are thrilled for her to join our platform and we hope to help her continue to grow through our representation and collaboration.
To your right you can see a list of some of the natural ingredients used to give color to the wool. Through grinding, boiling, and various chemical reactions using only Earth's plants, roots, and fruits, Estela and her team achieve an impressive color array.