A tote ready for weekend adventures or your daily treks, the Emilia Tote is a beautiful companion that carries a story along with your essential items. The royal blue, black and natural cotton is handwoven by indigenous artisans in Guatemala and are complemented with soft, Italian leather on the piping and an inside leather welted pocket. The zip closure and leather tassel exemplify the functionality and fun the tote combines. Through an innovative approach that combines business partnerships with educational programs, Mercado Global helps these women artisans overcome cycles of poverty and preserve this cultural craft.Read the brand story
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- 100% cotton weaving
- Leather detailing
- Zip closure
- Leather tassel
- 11”h x 18.5”w x 4”d
- Handwoven in Guatemala
Made by Hand
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What began as Ruth DeGolia’s thesis research trip to Reu, Guatemala, has become a platform for high-quality handbags made from authentic Guatemalan textiles and a sustainable model for social entrepreneurship. Mercado Global marks its tenth year of providing fair living wages, business and skills training, and market access to over 300 women within its artisan cooperative partners. With a careful eye turned toward quality and the preservation of tradition, Mercado Global works with these textile artisans to develop a line of handbags and accessories.
The spirit of Mercado Global is classic but quirky, casual but full of life, and speaks through textiles that celebrate the heritage of the skilled Guatemalan women who make them. From weaving to dyeing to assembly, the heart of the Mercado Global brand is anchored to the artisans that put generations of tradition and skill into each bag. Mercado Global bags combine traditional Mayan techniques like backstrap loom weaving and hand embroidery with contemporary appeal for the international customer. “Mercado Global plays to the competitive advantage of Guatemalan Artisans,” Ruth DeGolia says, “to create authentic products while updating them for a modern audience.” Pieces like the Matea Weekender feature original Mayan designs, the result of a close collaboration between the Mercado Global artisans and the U.S.-based design team headed up by creative director Courtney Hardt.
After having spent time living in Guatemala, Courtney draws her creative inspiration from the women who weave and wear the gorgeous handbags and satchels that showcase traditional textile crafts. “We do not reinvent the wheel each season,” she tells us, “Rather, we learn from previous seasons design and development process to highlight the artisans most refined skills. The collections are an evolution of our partnership with the artisans, to understand their highest potential and allow their work to be shown as a piece of art rather than a craft or trend.”
This season, highlights a specific technique called the “marcador,” a brocade technique that has been mastered in the western highland of Guatemala where most of Mercado’s artisans live. This Guatemalan weaving creates a refined luxury through a simple brocade design and bold palette complemented by mixed patterns rooted in Mayan tradition.
A Sustainable Model for Economic Empowerment
The Mercado Global model builds on the adage, “Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” By working closely with rural artisans in Guatemala and bringing their skills and products to an international market, Mercado Global aims to disrupt the cycle of poverty and involve the artisans in each stage of product development. The authentic partnerships built between Mercado and its artisans have contributed to a value proposition for their customers in the form of beautifully made bags. “Since the artisans are partners, and not beneficiaries, they have an incentive to invest more time to create a superior product,” says Ruth.
Economic empowerment never looked so good.