To honor the traditions of and provide support to women artisans of Guatemala through a partnership focused on the design, production and sale of sustainably sourced, fair trade, handmade goods to a broad audience.
ixöq, which means women in the Mayan dialects, Kaqchikel and Tzutujil, is a social enterprise that works with local women from Mayan communities in Guatemala to create unique, ethically made, locally sourced, fair trade products for you and your home. Our products are fun, colorful, festive and useful, all while honoring the culture and tradition of the women. ixöq designs each item in partnership with the artisans and our proceeds support the women and the nonprofit or cooperative groups who support them. We ensure that each artisan is paid a fair wage and plays an integral role in the design and creation process.
ixöq strives to honor the artisans, their work and their Mayan heritage while sharing the beauty and culture of Guatemala with a broader market. ixöq offers high quality, well made items that are created with respect for the local culture and by the hands of the local population. This provides secure employment while empowering local artisans to create beautiful products to be shared and enjoyed by many.
ixöq’s mission can only be achieved through our strong partnerships with local community groups. We partner with many women artisans who are employed through these collective groups. By working with a group, the women receive the training, support and supplies needed for their craft, as well as market opportunities that otherwise may be inaccessible. Thus far, ixöq has provided work for over 30 women in the villages of San Juan la Laguna, Santa Cruz la Laguna, and San Cristóbal, Totonicipán. As ixöq grows this number and the geographic region where we work will continue to grow.
ixöq’s owners, friends and neighbors Katie Leary Sebastian and Becky Smith, share a love and appreciation for Guatemala and have spent much time there, especially in the highlands around Lake Atitlán. They appreciate the natural beauty of the lake, which never fades, and the unique cultural beauty of the people, who have maintained their 500-year-old customs as shown through the language, artistry and traditions that Katie & Becky have come to cherish. But they have also seen the struggle that many face as they try to find employment and support their families, and they understand the challenges faced by women in particular.
Over time Katie & Becky have learned about and gotten to know several organizations and cooperative groups that work to train women in a trade and help empower them to be financially independent. In 2017 they sought opportunities to collaborate with these artisans and help share their beautiful creations while providing them stable employment. They have since combined their skills with the skills of these Guatemalan artisans to create ixöq, a brand that promotes and sells fair trade goods made by women artisans of Guatemala. Their goal is to provide economic support to the women while bringing unique and desirable products to a US market. All ixöq products are ethically produced and made by hand, and each artisan is guaranteed a fair wage for their work. Katie and Becky have built ixöq around a model of giving back and they are thrilled that all purchases provide direct income to the artists they love, and that they get to share the beauty and culture of a country and culture they love with their customers. A win-win.
When not visiting and working in Guatemala, Katie & Becky both live in Takoma Park, Maryland, with their spouses, a couple of dogs each, and their young adult children who breeze through town from time to time, and who also love and cherish their time spent in Guatemala.