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6 Unique Bridesmaid Gifts

 

Hello wedding season!  If you're a bride, friend of a bride or just thinking about your future wedding then you're going to need some bridesmaid gifts. No time like the present to pin some of these ideas or jot them down so you don't forget when it's time!  They're much appreciated after putting up with your bridezilla ways that are slightly inevitable.  No matter what your budget, we have some great ideas from matching robes to personalized moroccan beach hats.

Matching Robes

I know everyone always loves a robe! And it makes for adorable pictures.  Win Win. Plus each robe is only $18. 

 

Personalized Moroccan Sun Hats

No better time to buy a sun hat!  Especially if your bachelorette party or wedding involves a beach or poolside.  And how adorable will those pictures be?  You can have monograms, nicknames or whatever you want! Email Sunshine Tienda for your specific order or check out the selection they have in stock. 

 

Gaia Cosmetic Bag made by refugee artisans

A little pouch with Tribe on it is exactly what your bachelorette tribe will love! You could also add in a nail polish with the color you want them to wear at the wedding! 

Monogrammed Notecards

As you probably already know... if you're a bride... that writing letters is alive and well.  Especially thank you cards.  Your lady pals would love personal stationary!  I know I can't get enough of it. 

Framed Memories

A frame with picture of you two from the wedding or really any great moment you shared! Love this bone inlay frame from Furbish Studio. 

Personalized Candle

I know my friends all love candles.  Can never go wrong.  Plus these can be personalized with their initials or even Bridesmaid!

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Guatemala!

I decided very last minute that I needed a little escape from the routine – booked a flight and two weeks later, (after one cancelled flight and an overnight layover) was en route to Guatemala. I chose Guatemala for a few reasons, it's less than three hours from Austin, provides the instant culture shock I’m always looking for, and we love buying beautiful Guatemalan textiles for our shop!

There are so many things to do and see in Guatemala but with only one week – I chose to start in Antigua for a few days and then traveled to Lake Atitlan for the remainder of the trip.

I flew in to Guatemala City on Sunday evening and went straight to Antigua. I love this city. The cobble stone streets and brightly colored buildings bring a colonial feel and make it a unique city in this country. Great hotels, restaurants, and shopping make for an excellent entry point to getting your feet wet in this developing country.

I stayed at Hotel Casa del Parque – a very central location (less than a block from Plaza Mayor) – and bonus, they have a lovely courtyard with a sparkly pool. You should know, I base my hotels on the pool situation.

I didn’t have much time in Antigua, so I chose my dining wisely. I’m usually a fan of local market stall dining to get a feel for the local cuisine, but with the food scene being so top notch, I couldn’t pass up a few restaurants I had heard about. Los Tres Tiempos (photo below) is great for drinks and a new spin on traditional Guatemalan cuisine. Saborico is another not to miss restaurant that serves great breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus super tasty smoothies and juices. 

 

Los Tres Tiempo

 

Saborico

From Antigua, I traveled to San Marcos la Laguna – located on Lake Atitlan, about 3 hours from Antigua. There are quite a few towns around the lake – all easily accessible by their boat taxi system.  San Marcos was what I would imagine an adult medicinal summer camp to look like – meditation, yoga, acupuncture, organic farming, and a lush, tropical topography with a view of the lake at all times. I arrived in the evening and had a star-filled sky and complete silence waiting for me.

I stayed at Lush Atitlan – a BEAUTIFUL hotel that I highly recommend for anyone staying on Lake Atitlan. I stayed in the Cascada room – with two bedrooms and two baths – a multi-story suite with an indoor/outdoor feel. I also spent some time with my upstairs neighbor staying in the Mirador Suite which is also incredible with an entirely outdoor bathroom and incredible views of the lake. Pretty much perfection.

Each town around the lake offers something different. I spent quite a bit of time in San Juan as they have a large amount of artisan co-ops selling fair trade textiles, offering weaving and natural dye classes and is just a very welcoming village to roam for the day.  I spent an afternoon with the women of the Tinte Maya Cooperative learning how to use the backstrap loom. Although my Spanish could use some practice, I sat with them for hours as we chatted about our lives – and I wove myself a scarf!

San Pedro is a backpacker paradise – with tons of “gringo” restaurants, inexpensive hotels, Spanish schools, and a very easy place to meet other travelers.

Panajachel is the largest town and is the entry point for most who come to Lake Atitlan.  “Pana” is a bustling city on the water with a plethora of hotels, shopping and restaurant options. There are also a few hotels right outside of Pana accessible via tuk tuk that are beautiful and might provide a little more tranquility.

My last full day was spent exploring the highlands of Guatemala - visiting with a women’s artisan co-op, “Nuevo Sol,” followed up by lunch and shopping at my favorite market in the entire world, the “Chichi Market.”  Chichi is a nickname for the city, Chichicastenango – with a bustling market every Thursday and Sunday filled with fruits vegetables and textiles.

If you haven’t been to this incredible country, I highly encourage you to do so. My favorite thing about Guatemala are the people. Their kindness and welcoming spirit leave you feeling like you are with family – and I promise you will return again and again.

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Interview: Boutique Mexico

We were thrilled to chat with Jenn, the founder of Boutique Mexico. She has taken the talents from artisans in Mexico and helped them sell their goods for fair prices and give them the livelihood that they deserve.  Plus she's made an incredible career and company out of it from selling on Etsy to the floor at Nordstroms. Read more about her story!

ST: We love that your business gives back to the community. Right now, you give a portion of your proceeds to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and La Escuelita de Sonia School. Why did you select those organizations?

BM:The Sian Ka'an Biosphere is a 1 million acre reserve south of Tulum.  It is one of the most beautiful places on earth! It's so peaceful, serene and untouched you just can't help but fall in love with the place. So when I had a chance to hep out that was the 1st place that came to mind.  Amigos de Sian Ka'an which is the non-profit that works to protect the biosphere has done a wonderful job.  They have taught the locals how to make a living by implementing the use of sustainable tourism. So now the locals live off of low impact tourism instead of having to live off of the jungle, which means not having to go hunt for food and cut down wood for the fire to cook.  They have also allowed scientists in the reserve to study the turtle population, the effects of climate change on the reefs, etc.  They are just a great organization. La escuelita de Sonia came about while I was talking to a friend and she mentioned a school that taught undocumented kids.  When I say undocumented I don't mean kids that are not from Mexico, I mean kids where their parents have not registered them with the government so therefore they cannot attend public schools.  I thought it was such an amazing story how one lady "Sonia" decided to teach these kids.  She has since had 450 kids graduate from her school from kinder to high school.  The teachers are her old students who have come back to teach and who are in university.  She has a very high rate of graduation and of kids attending college.  This is amazing considering the poverty that these kids live in.  She is doing an amazing job and we wanted to help. So we are currently paying for the salaries of some of the teachers.  Hopefully soon, we can pay for more teachers.

ST: What inspired your desire to start Boutique Mexico?

BM: My husband and I live in Cancun, Mexico and we are constantly exploring.  Often we end up in the huts of locals Mayans that have taken us to undiscovered pyramids or underground rivers. In these huts I started noticing the embroidery the women were doing was amazing, but they had no way of selling their embroidery to anyone who would pay what it was worth.  Obviously the neighbor was not going to buy it, b/c she embroidered just as well.  So while talking with them they said they wanted to earn extra income to help provide for the family and I thought to myself, "I can sell this for sure"  So we made up a design and I asked them to make a few handbags... The next week I came back to pick up the bags and I ended selling  them all on etsy.  They artisans were so happy that they had extra income and that they could provide something to the family....You could even see it in their demeanur!  They felt useful...So I started having them make me more bags. One of the little boys told me one day that he wanted to start embroidering b/c he saw how much less stressed his mom was now.  That comment stuck with me!  So then I went to Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guerrero, etc and started working with artisans there and giving them my designs and color patterns.  So it all started with the artisans from Yucatan.

ST: Why did you decide to move back to Mexico after college?

BM: I grew up in Mexico and after going to high school and college in the US I never thought I would end up back in Mexico.  But love came calling and I was introduced to my now husband, who has had the exact life as me (raised in Mexico by US parents, totally bi-cultural, bi-lingual, etc..and that was it.  He was in San Antonio doing his masters and I was there recovering from a skiing accident.  We met and I was living in Cancun soon after that...I've been here 12 years now.

ST: Can you tell us about your favorite artisan partnership and why it was special for you?

BM: I love working with all of my artisans.  They are all so special and so eager to work with.  I think my favorite couple is the Manuel and Lucia from Chiapas. I met Lucia in Puerto Morelos, while she was selling friendship bracelets and belts on the beach.  I started talking with her and now her husband and their team make all of our pompoms.  They make about 300-400 pompoms/week for us.  It's been fun watching the process from beach vendor to organizing other artisans in their home town, doing quality control, etc... 

ST: What has been your biggest career success with Boutique Mexico, and also a failure that you have learned from?

BM: Biggest career success was getting into Nordstoms and we are about to go into another huge retailer (I can't say who it is yet)...Biggest failure....was by far when we were accused of stealing someone else's design.  You never want to be accused of that..we had never even heard of the designer and the weave was a classic weave made in Chiapas.  Anyway...now when we come out with a design we try to look everywhere we possible can to make sure someone else doesn't have a similar design.

ST: Can you give us some local tips for your favorite cities to visit in Mexico?

BM: Mexico DF-The Coyoacan Market and the Frida Kahlo museum are amazing.  The little restaurants in this area are delicious as well.  

Tulum - Kitchen Table is absolutley delicious. NOMAD beach club is super trendy with great music oh and let's not forget we just opened a boutique there :)  It is caddy corner to Ahau Tulum.  Ahau is also a very fun place to hang out. DJ's arrive in the afternoon and the food is delicous.

Holbox - Casa de las tortugas hotel, Pizzeria Carioca's has lobster Pizza.
ST: Where do you see your company in ten years?
BM: I would love to be able to set up studios in the villages where 1st world designers can go and teach the artisans how to make modern, trendy items.  This way they can make new designs and sell them at the markets at higher costs. I would also love to set up places where people from these small villages can get access to healthcare. As far as business goes.  I want to create an ambassador program so we have representatives that believe in our brand all over the US and Mexico and can promote and sell our products at pop-ups and with their friends.  I also want to continue working with large retails like Nordstom's as well as continuing to expand into Boutiques in the US and Mexico.
Thanks again to Boutique Mexico for the interview and if you're looking for amazing artisan goods from Mexico you must check out their website or if you're in Tulum go by their beautiful shop!

 

 

 

 

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