October 20, 2022 Artisans
In The Studio With: Irma Gomez Santos
By Manpreet Kalra
Today we're introducing you to one of our artisan partners, Irma Gomez Santos. If you've taken home any of our Dog Beds, Pot Holders or Utility Aprons, you've touched Irma's hands. Literally! Based out of Guatemala, Irma has a hand in fabricating the striking, colorful creations that make up our Sol Collection. The fabric is first woven with a Pedal Loom. It is then sent to her sewing workshop in Cuidad Vieja. There, you'll find Irma and her family, who she has employed, bringing these items to life!
Artisan Partners are the heart of MINNA. It is important to us that we center their voices and expertise. This interview was recorded and translated to be shared with the larger MINNA community with Irma’s informed consent, and we are presenting her words in her voice. We humbly ask you not to repurpose videos or photos of artisan partners to publish on your own platform without consent — we believe it is important that individuals have the ability to consent to where and how her interview and photos are shared.
The interview below has been transcribed from the video versions that are linked below. Shot by Ray Vázquez & Leslie Marléne Estrada. Editing & Translation by Carlos Ledesma.
Most of my family works with me. But besides my actual family working with me, the other people who work with me have become my family as well. Because they help me with my work and I help them so, to me, they’re also my family. But yes, most of the people who work here are my actual family. Because my two sons and two sisters work here.
“Because they help me with my work and I help them as well. To me, they're also my family.”
On Owning a Business
How to explain it? On one hand I feel like I have nothing, and at the same time I feel like I have it all. Because I was able to get for my sons what I couldn’t have. Because, thanks to God, I have 3 sons who’ve graduated and the fourth one is about to graduate. That’s what I’m the most proud of about having my own business. And I like what I do because one of my sons says “mom, go have a meal” and I’d say “wait son, I’ll finish what I’m working on” and he’d say “mom, you work to earn money but you don’t eat”. But that’s because I like what I do and I invest time in my patterns, my samples so the client will be happy and come back for more, so I can then have what I have and continue helping people, because through my business, the people who come get to have a little of what God is gifting us.
On Learning the Trade
I learned to sew on a maquila. I learned to cut with a local woman my husband paid to have her teach me to cut and sew. I did this for a year and a half. At the time my daughter was 3 months old and I’d bring her with me to the classes. But then I stopped going when I had my second baby. But after a few years, I went to another place to learn and there I lost the fear of sewing for other people. By then, I was already working so I was able to pay for the classes myself: 400 Quetzales to learn industrial patterns. And that’s how I learned, lost the fear and today I have my own business.