ixchel trianggle bag

In a world that’s leaving so little to remain untouched or unexploited, we’ve been so refreshed and encouraged by Tory Jones.

Not only does her company, Ixchel Triangle, make some of the most beautiful, unique bags that we’ve seen in along time, but after getting to know her story and the mission that gets her out of bed in the morning, we’re hoping hers is a business model that others can take note of.

Read on below to learn more about Tory’s bags, the stories they are woven from, and how they are helping to change lives in Guatemala.

Darling Magazine: Can you explain why the traditional garment called a huipil  was such a big inspiration to the creation of your bags?

Tory: When a person travels to Guatemala, the first thing many people notice is its vibrant rich colors! Huipils are a major source of this color. They are the traditional blouses of Mayan women and represent so much more than fashion. Each huipil is unique, tells a story, is handmade, and has a purpose. They really are hand woven pieces of art, whose colors and designs represent the villages and life stories of the women who weave them.

I think there is no better way to share the Mayan culture than to create products using the huipil. I like the idea of life and story being woven together. This never stops, but continues through generations and cultures. Through using the huipil we are weaving and adding a new story to an old tradition. The huipil beautifully ties together the rich history and tradition of the Mayan people.

ixchel triangle woman smile

DM: Your grandmother was the first to introduce you to Guatemalan culture. What was your reaction when you finally traveled to Guatemala yourself?

Tory: It felt like going home. The landscape, people, vibrant colors, and culture were already so familiar to me through the stories and things my grandmother would share. I couldn’t have loved a place more! There are multi-generations of people in Guatemala who are named after members of my family. It’s really the greatest honor you can be given. So to finally meet the people who were named after my grandma, great grandpa, multiple uncles, cousins, and my sister, was endearing and wonderful.

And who can forget the flavors of Guatemala. I LOVE the food! Basically, I began my love affair with Guatemala my first day in there.

 I like the idea of life and story being woven together.

DM: Each bag, like each huipil, is unique. How are you hoping that translates to not only your product’s design, but to your customers as well?

Tory: My hope is that my customers will view each product as a work of art and a labor of love. Each bag is created by a unique human being, not by a machine, for each customer to own. I believe our customers are unique with their own story, dreams, and desires. I like the idea of offering a product that is special for them. Who knows why a person is drawn to a particular huipil, but maybe it’s a bit of destiny.

DM: Your product is dedicated to helping the artisans who created such beautiful bags. Is there a specific story you’d like to share of how Ixchel Triangle made a direct impact on a person or family?

Tory: I have two stories that are closest to my heart that I want to share. The co-op I work with to create our vegan products is down-right amazing! These ladies, spear-headed by my friend Ana, are now able to send 93 children from their village to school from the funds raised through products we make! Not only are these children able to receive a formal education, but they are able to take part and support themselves utilizing the ancient tradition of weaving with a backstrap loom.

ixchel triangle guatemala

Another story is about a boy named Jose Mario. He is the main reason that I started Ixchel Triangle! When I first met Jose Mario (my grandma has known him and his mother all their lives), I saw a brilliant young boy with so much heart and potential, but no opportunity. His dream was to be an architect and build his mother a “real house.” I promised him that if he stayed in school, I would support his education. Through his story, I decided I wanted to create a business helping the people that I loved. I wanted to share their culture that slowly was becoming a part of mine. Jose Mario is a 16 year-old high school student. He is still on track to become an architect.

DM: With so many socially and ethically-minded companies on the rise, what you do think distinguishes your company from others?

Tory: Actually, I don’t believe there really are that many companies who are socially and ethically minded. I think many companies claim these things, but very few are honest and keep their word. Now, as a business owner, I’ve seen how business sometimes is conducted dishonestly and with greed. Sadly, it often is about the bottom dollar.

I’ve seen first hand other competing companies claim handmade, hand woven, and ethically made when really they weren’t. These are all catchy phrases and marketing tools that companies use to make the consumer feel good about their purchase. I’m sorry if I sound jaded at all, but this is the truth. Being in Guatemala and seeing how other people conduct business has been eye-opening and unfortunate. When it comes down to it, businesses making products in third world countries can claim almost anything without accountability for these claims. If they are false, there is not much that people can do about it.

So what sets me apart? I keep my promises. My word is my bond. I would rather fail at a business and be proud of the way I conducted myself than have a hugely successful business and lose my moral compass. I promise Ixchel Triangle products are hand woven and handmade. I promise fair wages. I promise I know all our artisans personally. I will stand by these promises till the end. I’ve taken steps to guarantee transparency. All of our products are signed by the “maker.” All of our work is done with co-ops and not in a factory. We are adding pictures with the story of our artisans to our website so people can see and know exactly who created their purchase.

 I would rather fail at a business and be proud of the way I conducted myself than have a hugely successful business and lose my moral compass.

ixchel triangle tote

DM: You quote “ For the body does not consist of one member, but of many. . . If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together,” on your website. Why is this important to your product and its message?

Tory: This quote is actually one of my favorite Bible verses. It takes many people to make our products, from design, to weaving, and construction. If our artisans didn’t support each other while completing their part, we would not reach our goals. I read this verse a lot while starting Ixchel Triangle. It motivated and reminded me not to give up.

It also reminded me this journey wasn’t solely about starting a company and doing what “I” creatively loved. It’s much more. It’s about countless families in Guatemala who expect me to get my butt up everyday and make this dream a reality for everyone involved. In the end, if I didn’t do my part, I would be failing the people that I love. I’m happy to say we are now rejoicing together.

DM: What is your hope for the future of fashion and textile manufacturing? How do you see Ixchel Triangle playing a role in that?

Tory: Sadly most textile manufacturing has moved to mass production by machine. My hope is, in the future, more and more consumers will genuinely care about where their products come from. I hope consumers make conscious choices to support companies that are investing in people rather than machines. Making fast products and fast money is all about riding a trend. I’m not in it for a minute. I’m in it for the long haul.

We make quality products using hand woven textiles made by real hands that have put their heart and soul into it. My hope is that our products continue to represent this ideology and consumers continue to love and respect the art form enough to invest themselves into it!

** Until October 21st 2015, Darling readers are invited to use code DARLING at checkout for 15% off their Ixchel Triangle order! **

Guatemala images via Gina Lee; Guatemalan woman & bag images via Heather Morgan

1 comment

  1. Thank you for featuring Ixchel Triangle in this article. It reflects both the essence of the featured business and the quality of writing available in your magazine.
    Thank you

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