Maintain. Empower. Celebrate.
Despite centuries of persistent domination and systematic racism, the backstrap loom weaving technique is a key Maya art form that has persisted intact in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. Cojolya is both a registered non-profit working to improve the lives of our artisans and their families, and a certified Fair Trade organization dedicated to the conservation of the tradition, not as a historical relic, but as an economically viable source of employment for our women weavers.
Cojolya first emerged in 1983 during the Guatemalan Civil War, by infusing three visions. Candis E Krummel dreamed of producing beautiful designs and empowering women with income security, Elena Sojuel brought her love of the backstrap loom tradition, and Santiago Atitlán native, Antonio Ramirez Sosof, envisioned improving his beloved hometown. Since then, our in office team has changed but we continue to pursue Fair trade, respect and celebration of culture, and strengthening our beloved Santiago Atitlán.
Meet our team
Aka, "El Único". Tono is one of the only males who works on our office staff. Luckily, he's used to it, as he was part of the founding team along with two other women, and a team of female artisans. Tono has 5 children, one who is also a part of our artisan team!
Carina Coché Vásquez
Aka, "La Jefa". Our compassionate leader was born in Santiago, and came to Cojolya after studying Economy for 7 years. She likes economics but also romance ballads tacos (con pollo) and chapstick.
Aka, "La Mamá". Maria Sosof was orphaned at 11 years old, and without any guidance, she taught herself to weave to support herself and her siblings. Without Maria, our office would be a sad place without hugs and 'choco fruta'.
José Sicay Mesía
Director of Production
Aka, "El Maestro". Look out/AGUAS Tono, there's another man in our office! Fortunately, José has 4 sisters, one of whom is our master weaver apprentice, so he knows how we like to run things around here. He's not only the maestro as a teacher but he's also a painting master and has all the Cojolya-related knowledge.
Social Program Coordinator
Aka, "La Dulce". Better known as Chonita, this young lady with an easy laughter and the sweetest smile is passionate about preserving the Tz'utujil culture. After work, it also does so by teaching the Mayan language of Santiago both to children in schools and to volunteers coming from abroad.
Communication and Development Coordinator
Aka, "La Viajera". Passionate about fair trade fashion, social development, and street food in equal measure, Joanna came from the US to learn about Mayan textiles. Since her arrival, she has been enchanted as much by the natural wonders of the lake and the volcanoes as by the kindness of the weavers of Cojolya.