When you ask the average person in the indigenous weaving village of Teotitlán del Valle what they do in their free time, almost all of them will say “fiesta!” Life here is centered around family and work duties, as it is in much of the world, but in Mexico every big event warrants a party. From birthdays to engagements and saint’s days – which seem to come almost every week – every occasion is celebrated with a fiesta.
MZ decided it was time for our weaving family to celebrate two years of steady growth – to give something back to the artisans who have worked so hard. Our production manager, Paco, and his wife, one of our designers, immediately agreed to host the party. They said it would be easy, and it actually was!
Liz and I, who are currently in Oaxaca, had let most people know about the party during our rounds of the village, and Josefina called the remainder. We arrived at the appointed time to find a truck of rented tables and chairs unloading in the courtyard. Meanwhile, Josefina and her relatives were busily cutting up veggies and cheese bought at the morning open air market for the tostadas to be served. Liz arranged 50 framed photos of the weavers that we brought as gifts, and people started arriving.
Even though we set the tostadas up as buffet, tradition took over and the women put together plates for everyone, serving the men first. Everyone was happily eating and chatting when the cake arrived, decorated simply with “Manos Zapotecas” written on it. We called everyone over to the cake table for a group photo, and normal shyness was replaced with lots of smiles and laughter. They are getting used to us “gringas” being a bit silly and encouraging them to do the same.
It is, of course, moments like these that spark those small realizations. Even though it is really incredibly difficult to start any business, it has been, in fact, the most challenging thing I’ve done in my life, seeing the appreciation of everyone at this party makes all of it very worthwhile.