Antonia and Tomás live and work in a family compound along with Tomas’ parents and the families of two of his brothers. Life here centers on the extended family, and they very much value the support that this offers.
Antonia started out dyeing yarn for her other family members to weave and then more recently stepped up to design as well, with Tomás working by her side. Typically Antonia initiates the design process, Tomás weaves the samples; they tag team the entire process like that, until the product is tagged and shipped!
“When he completes a step, I take up the next one and so on. We share everything, including work, caring for the children and the house,” said Antonia.
Antonia is the third child of a traditional Zapotec family in Teotitlan del Valle. Her father began teaching her the ancient knowledge of weaving at age 10. Her favorite part of the process is the dyeing and combining of colors for her designs, with a preference toward greens, grays, and rust. Antonia’s creations have quickly become best sellers due to her intricate designs and knack for color combinations.
The popularity of her bags and the money she earns from them directly correlates to the well being of her family, in particular the ability for her three children to further their education. Although Antonia only completed junior high, and Tomás high school, their eldest is now studying engineering at a university in Oaxaca City. Their younger daughter is attending high school with the help of a hearing aid, and her five-year-old boy goes to the local elementary school.
“I used to say, ‘Oh, I need a job, because my oldest daughter is going to go to the University. But I thought – where am I going to get a job so that she can go to college? And this job with MZ is an opportunity to have more continuous work,” she shared.
Antonia and Tomás say that adapting their designs and colors to the taste of the international market has been an exciting challenge. Considering how popular their designs have become in a very short period of time, we'd say that they are learning very fast!