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.
When Antonia married she simply moved down the street from the house she was raised in to join her husband's family. She lives with her husband, Thomas Santiago, and their three children in a large family compound that includes the three Santiago brothers, their parents and all their wives and children. Life here centers on the extended family, and Antonia very much values the support that this offers.
She is the most recent addition to the Manos Zapotecas team of designers, whereas she previously worked dyeing wool for the other weavers. 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.
“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 Manos Zapotecas is an opportunity to have more continuous work,” she shared.
Although Antonia only completed junior high, her eldest is now studying engineering at a University in Oaxaca City. Her 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.
Antonia says that adapting her designs and colors to the taste of the international market has been an exciting challenge for her. Considering how popular her designs have become in a very short period of time, we'd say that she is learning very fast!