Amor Handmade Sources One Of A Kind Accessories Handcrafted by The Women Of Chiapas
Amor Handmade is a small business based in Arcadia, CA partnering with Latin American artisans. The developing brand specializes in collars, leashes, and accessories that are sustainable, vibrant, and one of a kind. Each piece in the collection is handcrafted by women from Chiapas, Mexico.
In our Q&A below with founder Chris Lin he describes how he first found the pieces and plans to continue supporting the community.
Q: How did the company start or come together in 2019?
In 2018, I was in Guadalajara and I saw beautiful dog collars being sold at a local market. They featured a vibrant and intricate handwoven textile. I happily bought it and took it home for my chocolate lab, Fuchsia. Within a few weeks, the collar had already started coming apart. I felt like the beautiful textile deserved better quality materials and a collar design commensurate to its craftsmanship. I love Mexican culture, and I felt like if this product could be improved, we could share the culture and art of these talented artisans with the world. I began reaching out to artisans in Chiapas to see if they would be interested in working on dog collars with me. We found the first group of women that we still work with today, a 3-generation family (Maria, Lucia, Erika) Then we looked to Leon, Guanajuato, the leather capital of Latin America to find leather artisans that could help us complete the construction of the collar with high quality materials. We ended up using vegetable-tanned leather, a strong, environmentally-friendly leather that doesn’t use chemical tannins. In September 2019, we began making our first collars and selling them on our online store www.amorhandmade.com.
Q: Is there a special technique to how the pieces are made?
The artisans call the weaving technique “trenzado a mano”. In their native language, Tsotsil, there are names for different designs within this weaving technique such as “jol chulna” . Most people will recognize this weaving technique as a form of macramé. It’s probable that when the Spanish conquered Mexico, they introduced macramé to the Tsotsil artisans who in turn incorporated it into their culture and evolved it to fill a wide variety of uses within their arts and crafts.
Q: Are the patterns or materials culturally significant?
The artisans are inspired by the colors of life and animals. They especially love vibrant and eye-catching designs/colors. Traditionally, their designs are used for colorful belts within their communities in the Highlands of Chiapas.
Q: How often are new designs created?
New designs are created everyday! Our best selling collection is called the One-of-a-kind collection which features completely unique designs. We upload new designs to that collection daily. For our One-of-a-kind collars, we give the artisans creative freedom over the designs, so each one is an improvised, completely unique piece of art.
Q: What was one way the company had to adapt to the pandemic?
Most of our sales are through our online channel, so thankfully we were able to continue operations, sometimes working mostly from home. On the artisan-side of our operations, most artisans in the region lost their main source of income, tourism. So we tried my best to recruit more artisans to our project to be able to provide sustainable and fair income to them during this period. During the pandemic, we increased the number of artisans we were working with from 15 to 30.