Fair Trade Jewelry and Ethical Fashion

Helping Women in Guatemala Become Financially Independent

by | Fashion as a Force for Good

Turtle Backpack Assembly Line in Guatemala

Read Time: 2 min.

Turtles With a Mission

How can a turtle help a woman rise out of poverty?

Clara, Artisan in Guatemala

This isn’t just any turtle … this is a turtle with a mission!

Turtle Backpacks are Changing Lives!

This adorable turtle backpack is handmade in Guatemala by women like Clara who have struggled through the devastating effects of poverty.

Although Guatemala has grown economically in recent years, it still claims one of the highest inequality rates in Latin America.

With some of the worst poverty, malnutrition, and maternal-child mortality rates in the region, * there is still work to be done before women are treated fairly. That’s where Trades of Hope comes in.

Turtle Backpack thebrandinlife
Clara, Artisan in Guatemala in her home based workshop

Meet Clara, Artisan in Guatemala

Clara, Artisan in Guatemala in her home based workshop

Trades of Hope partners with women around the world to bring long-term sustainable employment to communities, helping these women to rise above their circumstances.

Clara is one of the Artisans in Guatemala who sews bags for Trades of Hope. Among these are the Turtle Backpack and Bunny Backpack.



Clara is a hardworking mother of three who worked in a company outside her city when her children were young. As is the struggle of motherhood worldwide, Clara found it increasingly difficult to work outside the home with young children. With the hope of gaining a better work/life balance, she founded the artisan group with her husband. This afforded them both the luxury to work out of their home.

Clara and her Family in Guatemala

Now Clara could care for and spend time with their children while still providing for the family. It was a blessing that has continued to sustain their little workshop. Their home-based business has now been sewing handicrafts for the past fifteen years.

Women Helping Women

Starting their own workshop meant more than just meeting their needs to balance work and family time: it meant she could help others rise out of poverty. Clara has a big heart for the community, and she takes a personal interest in those that work for her. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and Clara and her husband exemplify that saying.

Mercedes’ Story of Hope

Mercedes, Artisan in Guatemala

One of the young women she employs, Mercedes, struggled with abandonment issues from her childhood.

They took her under their wing to help her with food and housing, and Clara taught Mercedes how to sew and make handicrafts.

Now that Mercedes is grown, she works in the group and has the tools she needs to become financially independent.

Unfortunately, there are countless more women around the world like Mercedes, desperate to find a way to rise above their circumstances.

Mercedes, Artisan in Guatemala

These women do not want charity. They want an opportunity! A hand UP over a hand OUT.

You can help provide their ongoing sustainability when you purchase the items they create.

Turtle Backpack has adjustable straps for kids
Turtle Backpack Made by Women in Guatemala
Turtle Backpack

More Guatemala Blogs

Huipil & Tipico Artisans

Click on each photo below to discover more about our Huipil and Tipico Artisan partners and products in GUATEMALA.

10 Ways to Change the World with This Adorable Bunny Backpack - Clara Blog

10 Ways to Change the World with This Adorable Bunny Backpack

Martha & Rosa’s Story of Hope in Guatemala

Martha & Rosa’s Story of Hope in Guatemala

Stories of Hope in Guatemala - Huipil and Tipico Artisans

Stories of Hope in Guatemala – Trades of Hope

*Poverty statistics based on 2108 worldbank.org data.

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Barbara DeSouza

Barbara DeSouza

Barb has held several roles at Trades of Hope in the past 8+ years, but none fit this entrepreneur's style like her role in our Marketing/Communications team. Best known as her alter-ego, "Barbara Hope" in the Partners' Facebook world, Barb infuses quirky dry humor to punctuate her posts and can also be found lightening tensions with a well-placed sarcastic GIF when the group's collective estrogen level is peaking. 😉 She is passionate about coffee, grammar, music, creating, and is utterly smitten with her grandbabies, who teach her to slow down and be present for the blessings while they remind her why creating a better future falls on the shoulders of each one of us.