Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Kej Manik'

It’s been quite a long time since I last wrote, but I have an excuse…I’ve been working on a project, which my aunt Myriam and I have been talking about doing for quite some time, and we decided to stop talking about it and simply get it started! It’s still an excuse for not writing, but in my opinion, it’s quite a valid one.

The project is a shop called Kej Manik', which specializes in hand made goods combining modern and traditional materials, as well as styles inspired by the Guatemalan culture. Kej, or Manik' in Kiche Maya, is one of the most powerful signs in the Mayan calendar (Tzolk'in) and it's the sign (Nahual) of the Deer. Check out our logo below, courtesy of my partner and very talented Graphic Designer, Ricky Gonzalez.

As I mentioned earlier, my aunt and I have finally put Kej Manik’ into action. We share the same Mayan symbol or Nahual, which is the deer. So when we had to name our shop, we knew immediately what we wanted to call it (well, not as immediate as I’m making it out to be.) With Kej Manik', we seek to highlight Guatemala's unique and colorful culture by combining traditional materials with the work of Guatemalan artisans and my own art. 

At times, I experience an odd sense of fear when I think about exposing Kej Manik’ to friends, family, everyone really, as I think to myself “there are a bunch of competitors out there…what will make us stand out?” Well, my aunt Myriam helped me put my worries to rest by telling me “competition is always healthy.” I do have to say that Kej Manik’ has been a great avenue for me to explore other mediums in which to be creative in a unique and exciting way. This is the first time I dabble in jewelry design and home d├ęcor. Plus, it will allow us the opportunity to partner with and support amazing artisans from Guatemala. Many of Guatemala's indigenous artists have to leave their towns to sell their work for an inequitable amount, which doesn't cover the cost of materials, nor their time or dedication. At times, they earn just enough to cover their transportation back to their homes. The goal of Kej Manik' is to make sure that these incredible artisans get compensated fairly, allowing them to earn a fair wage so they can focus on their families and homes without having to leave them behind. The partnership will promote empowerment, creativity, stability, and an emphasis on familial bonding. We are very excited about this and can't wait to see it flourish!

On December 18th and 19th of this year, it will be the first time Kej Manik’ will have exposure as we will be taking part in Fountain Studios’ Holiday Market in New York! I’m excited, anxious and eager to see what the response will be like. All I can do is remain confident and trust that what we have put together is strong and unique. Definitely be in the look out as Kej Manik’ will be hosting a Pop-up Shop in Chicago this coming spring! I’ll keep you posted and hopefully you can join us in celebrating this eagerly awaited venture.