If you’ve been following DIOSA for awhile, you might be wondering why we mention Guatemala so often. Well, it’s the inspiration for our company! Kim, our DIOSA CABEZA (head goddess and founder) fell in love with Guatemala years ago – the culture, the people, the food, the colours!
In many ways, we draw upon this love of Guatemala as our muse while we continue to grow DIOSA designs.
Did you know that “diosa” is Spanish for “goddess”?
Having our fellow goddesses (like you!) join us along this journey is very important to us. And the journey wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t understand exactly what inspired DIOSA in the first place. So, here's the inside scoop into DIOSA’s origins...
Kim has been working towards having one foot in Guatemala and the other in Newfoundland, Canada. As she describes it in her own words, Arriving in Guatemala always gives me a feeling of butterflies, anticipation of the excitement to come and a general feeling of ‘I am home’. Having travelled to and from Guatemala at least nine times already, she has fostered meaningful friendships and is always giving back.
Kim initially began contributing to Guatemalan communities through an organization she co-founded several years ago called GiveGetGo. The initiative that Kim was most involved with was to provide children in Guatemala with the infrastructure and a safe place to gain an education at My Melody School. It was during one of her GiveGetGo trips that she was told about the Guatemalan women weavers.
As a lifelong advocate of women’s rights (she, along with some amazing college friends, helped start the first women’s centre at her Acadia University campus in 1984..."WANTS" Womens Awareness Network Team Support), she felt drawn to the weavers; compelled to meet these Indigenous women keeping their cultural traditions alive.
Mayan women are oftentimes the sole source of income for their families. Kim's journey to learn more about these amazing women took her to the remote communities around Lake Atitlan. These powerful women inspired Kim so much, and provided her with an insight to a world of women empowerment that she had never known about.
Many of the people in Lake Atitlan don’t speak English, or even Spanish. They speak in their Mayan dialects Kaqchikel, K’iche’ and Tz’utujil. When Kim arrived at the women’s empowerment centre, she sat on the floor in a circle of women, watching one of them practice her traditional skill of weaving. In order to communicate, one of the women translated Kim's English to Spanish, then another woman translated the Spanish to a Mayan dialect and back. In this moment, Kim felt so empowered – each woman from their own corners of the world, each with their own wonderful skill and ability to impact and empower the other.
This interconnection and women empowering each other is what DIOSA is all about.
How does this all connect to the laptop backpack for women? Well, Kim had been struggling to find the perfect bag for her lifestyle as a business woman and an avid traveller. She decided that she would start a company to create that bag – while inspired by the Mayan women weavers of Lake Atitlan. The bag could not be produced there with the features she wanted, but small hand-woven, one of a kind purses and products could be! The company would have an inherent give-back value that helps empower women, starting with the Mayan weavers of Guatemala.
Her daughter and DIOSA co-founder, Katie Thompson, has travelled with her to visit other empowerment centres and find partnerships for DIOSA.
This is how DIOSA designs was born and how it continues to be influenced by Guatemalan women.