Guatemala: A Land of Abundant Inspiration

While it is commonly known that many of our bags are handmade ethically in Guatemala, the rich connection our line has with the country, traditions and people may not be such common knowledge. Our owner and designer Jess has spent a great deal of time in the country, living there on and off for a number of years. For those of us who have had the pleasure of spending time in the country, it is easy to see how it can inspire an entire label, such as Stela 9.

One of the many interesting things one can stumble upon in Guatemala are the weaving traditions of the indigenous Maya people. The textiles created through the weaving process can be seen everywhere: on the huipils, which are the traditional blouses the indigenous women wear, being sold at market stands on the streets and as decoration in homes, stores and restaurants. These textiles are either made on a traditional treadle loom which is powered by a foot pedal or the mobile Maya backstrap, which uses a simpler technology. Often times as you walk through the city streets of the lovely Antigua (a small town in Guatemala which is known for its surrounding volcanoes and tourist attractions) you can see Mayan women working on their weaving in front of shops or even in the middle of the park. Antigua is a favorite travel location of Guatemala and where Jess spent much of her time. As Stela 9 bags are known for their patterns, colors and textures it is easy to see where some of this inspiration comes from in Guatemala. Homes are painted in vibrant shades and covered in vegetation. Women walk through the streets covered in intricately weaved huipils. From the surrounding nature, to the beautiful jade stones, hand crafted leather and textiles, to the simplicity of the colorful decorations in a family’s home, there are endless things to be inspired by.
Market selling huipils, souvenirs and textiles
pattern play
The streets of Antigua
The Mayan ruins of Tikal
The doors of a hostel in San Marcos, Lake Atitlan
Lace head scarves
Little girl in the park in Antigua
Vibrant colors
patterns and textiles
Little girls playing
Women at work
A lovely display of bags and textiles
Textile creation
Man biking in Antigua
Antigua skies
Clearly, it is hard not to be inspired. In recent years we even returned to Antigua, Guatemala to do an on location shoot for our Spring/Summer 2012 Lookbook.
The architecture, the people, the nature, the textiles, the patterns, the weather and much more of Guatemala have all been a little piece of the puzzle that created Stela 9.


  1. Happy Mami says:

    Your eloquent post about Guatemala was so true, our family has spent quite a bit of time there and it is where both of our children were born. It is our second home. Your connection to Guatemala is what drew us to Stela9, we appreciate the practices you use and the quality products you make available to us.
    Thank you!!

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