The tourist season in Guatemala runs roughly from November through April, a time of brisk business in indigenous handicrafts.
Some of them are now available at the latest store to spring up in Eagle Rock. Called Tapestry, the store is so new—and its owner evidently so busy—that it has yet to put up a sign outside. It opened July 30 in the space on 2036 Colorado Blvd. vacated last January by the Photo Shoppe, one of Eagle Rock's longest-surviving small businesses that succumbed to the demands of digital technology.
In a February interview, the Photo Shoppe’s owner, Mari Mansourian, told Eagle Rock Patch she hoped “something interesting comes along” to replace what used to be the neighborhood’s only full-fledged photography shop.
Mansourian and other Eagle Rock residents would doubtless be interested to know that the merchandise at Tapestry is as intriguing as it’s eclectic—not to mention as far removed from cutting-edge technology as it’s possible to get for a store in L.A.
The goods at Tapestry come from a mix of different cultures—artisan products ranging from bags and scarves to pottery and jewelry. There’s some Asian furniture, too. But the main item is porcelain jewelry created by a group of 100 Guatemalan women who are part of a cooperative run by the store’s owner, Ingrid Green.
“When people buy the jewelry, the money they spend supports the women’s cooperative,” said Rick Green, Ingrid’s husband, who helps with the business. “For every 100 different women there are 100 different families that survive and eat and raise their children from the sale of the jewelry.”
Quality Porcelain Jewelry
The jewelry is evidently highly popular in Guatemala. “People collect it, politicians, artists and singers buy it, museums have asked about it—it’s very high quality porcelain jewelry,” according to Green.
What seems to make the jewelry all the rage is its bright and varied designs. There’s just one problem: The women who produce it are largely dependent on tourism.
“The problem that the women down there have always had is that they have two seasons that are very busy—with a lot of tourism—and there are two seasons where there’s almost no one,” Green explained. “So, almost six months of a year, they have to survive on what they made in the other six months.”
The Greens’ goal is to sell enough jewelry to support the women in Ingrid’s cooperative throughout the year. “If they have six months of tourism and then six months of downtime, they continue to make the jewelry but it gets harder and harder to feed everybody,” Green said.
“If people like this jewelry here as they like it down in Central America, the women have more of chance of having a sustainable lifestyle,” Green said, adding: “So that’s the idea behind the store.”