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Juan Jose Ventura

Artisan Organization: Juan Jose Ventura

Country: Guatemala

“I am Juan José Ventura Peliz, originally from Chichicastenango. I was born in 1972 and I am the third generation in the elaboration of handicrafts as a profession. I consider myself an enterprising person and a leader. I achieved my dream of becoming a tour guide, and I frequently interacted with foreigners. So it was my goal to be able to interact with people from abroad and enter the world of handicrafts through the multicultural wealth of Guatemala. I stopped studying at the university to dedicate myself to work. Then I married, and finished university with two careers at the same time; that makes me proud.

“I learned this art with my parents because I grew up in the handicraft environment. Since 1970 my parents were pioneers of handicrafts in Chichicastenango, and I taught everything I learned to the people who work with us. We are a small family business, and currently we divide the tasks. I am dedicated to production and marketing; my wife to design. I started to work independently in 1990.

“The materials used are now more difficult to acquire, because labor is more scarce than ever. It gets more expensive every day, so in the last 20 years we have use recycled materials, such as huipiles (traditional blouses) and perrajes (shawls). We also use tools such as backstrap looms and standing looms. Our crafts are the reflection of our traditions, and beliefs. It is very important that we make our people known to the world. The simple fact of living in Chichicastenango--the folklore, the colors, the traditions--is my source of inspiration. Our handicrafts show the evolution over 4 generations, from the backstrap looms making fabrics in ancestral techniques, to using machines to be more competitive and reach larger markets in other countries. Making a living from handicrafts today is very difficult. My hope is to reposition my products with new designs in foreign markets. It is a source of pride to be an artisan of the Maya K'iche ethnic group and to be recognized in the international market. My experiences and challenges over the years have made me a better person.

“Currently we are experiencing the worst crisis in every sense; and the handicraft sector is one of the most affected and least attended to. We have to fend for ourselves, and it has been very difficult. Many of our weavers are giving up the trade to dedicate themselves to other areas, so we ask for your support to promote our handicrafts.

"Each piece involves the work of more than 5 people. By acquiring our products, you will be helping several families who have dedicated themselves to this work for many years, and you will have a product 100% made by the hands of Maya K'iche'.""