As the founder and designer behind Ara Collective, Sarah Contrucci Smith is known for her gorgeous global aesthetic. She travels all over the world to find vibrant, traditional textiles, collaborating with local artisans to create pieces that complement today’s modern style. As if that wasn’t inspiring enough, her company makes a point of paying artisans fair wages and invests 10% of all proceeds to cover education and healthcare for their artisan partners and their families.
We asked Sarah to share her insider’s perspective on Guatemala (where she’s worked with artisans for years), including a few pro tips for shopping the markets. Read on below, and shop Ara Collective’s finds from all over the world HERE.
Describe shopping in Guatemala and your first impression of it. “Shopping in Guatemala is a whirlwind of color in stacks upon stacks of clothing, home goods, and accessories. The details and craftsmanship in each piece is extraordinary, so it can be overwhelming really quickly. But these are my favorite kinds of shopping experiences! I love getting my hands in there, sifting through the piles, and talking to the artisans about how they were made and what makes them meaningful.”
What’s your approach to shopping in Guatemala? What do you look for? “On this latest trip I wasn’t looking for any specific item but rather stand-out textiles (in any form) that got me inspired. At Ara Collective, everything I design is based on age-old designs found on traditional apparel, blankets, and rugs in our artisans’ hometowns. I find those designs while wandering around the local markets. It’s a chemistry thing – I don’t know what I’m looking for exactly but I know when I’ve found it. It’s the biggest adrenaline kick and such a fun creative, cross-cultural process.”
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