When the global health crisis hit in March, Elena, Brooke, and Laura watched separately as many of their artisan partners were forced to close their workshops, return to their home communities, and/or dedicate themselves to another industry to supplement their income. Tourism and brand partnerships, which were once key drivers of their sales and livelihood, came to a standstill, and from one day to the next, the world changed.
Elena, the founder and designer of Guatemalan slow-fashion brand, Ixil Collective, kicked into action, working alongside her weaver partners to adapt their business by producing handwoven masks. Meanwhile, Laura Spillari, founder and designer at shared exhibition and studio space in Antigua, Guatemala, "Xibalba Studio," temporarily closed her store due to country restrictions and worked on getting her one-of-a-kind pieces online as a new way to reach her U.S. customer base. Thousands of miles away, Brooke, the founder of Peruvian slow-fashion brand, Artisans of Inti, sat anxiously at her desk, reeling at the grandeur of world events and unsure on how to proceed forward. It was perhaps out of that great sense of uncertainty that Brooke sent Elena a message, looking for some solidarity with another artisanal brand.
The two hit it off, and they ultimately decided to contact 14 more women-owned artisanal brands - including Xibalba Studio - from across Latin America to launch a cross-promotional marketing campaign, #TogetherForArtisans, which garnered sales and exposure for all brands involved. That shared experience demonstrated the value and necessity of collaboration, inspiring the creation of Amano Marketplace, an online artisanal marketplace to serve as a more permanent shared platform where Latin American artisans can share their designs and stories. Elena is currently based out of the D.C. area, Brooke out of Cusco, Peru and Laura is Amano's first artisan liaison, from her studio space in Antigua, Guatemala.