Vida Nueva Women Co-operative

Vida Nueva Women Co-operative

We met Silvia and Pastora Gutierrez Reyes at their home in the Zapotec village Teotitlan del Valle and heard about their incredible story of the successful community driven business they have created and continue to grow today. They are two of the five sisters that started Vida Nueva in an aim to create sustainable business for women. Traditionally rug weaving had been men’s work and it was very difficult for single women to make a living. Pastora and her sisters wanted to be able to preserve their Zapotec heritage while being able to provide economic stability and opportunity for the single women of their community.

This family continues to use all of the traditional techniques of weaving with the foot pedal loom and dying with natural recipes that the family has passed down for generations. 

The wool is first gathered and washed in the river. They then brush and spin the wool by hand into yarn.

The different colours are produced from different plants and insects and the wool is left in a recipe to ferment. They use anil plant for indigo, cochineal insects for red, marigold for yellow and pomegranate skins for brown. Once the desired colour is achieved and the wool is dried they weave their designs using the wooden foot pedal loom. Each of their designs come from traditional symbols which they are now starting to also play with mixing into more modern looks. The whole process takes approximately three months.

The women have also developed many programs to assist the community. These include workshops on domestic violence, traditional medicine, health education, eldercare, recycling, reforestation of communal land.

Products by Vida Nueva Co-operative

Large Zapotec Rug

Small Zapotec Rug