Maria Clara Ixtuc
"On the 8th of September in 1982, Maria Clara Ixtuc was born in a small Guatemalan town. From the time she was a child, she became familiar with the world of handicrafts, and her father taught her to craft necklaces, bracelets and earrings with tiny, colorful seed beads. <br><br> "In school, the girls learned different techniques for weaving, knitting and crocheting and I fell completely in love with these textile arts," she confides. "You can create all kinds of things with different materials. <br><br> "My inspiration takes wing when I have the yarn and needles or hook in my hands. This is a wonderful art that has let me bring in an income for my family and help my husband with the household expenses. <br><br> "When we were first married, in 2008, things were difficult. My husband drank a lot and I was often alone with our first child. I realized I had to do something for her and for myself. Because I knew how to crochet, I began making handbags in all kinds of colors. <br><br> "As time went by, my husband and I were able to overcome all our problems and today, thank God, we are a very close family. We have five beautiful daughters and another on the way. It's my dream to see them grow and to give them an education so they can become professional people." <br><br> Maria's husband, Arturo, adds, "Maria is an extraordinary woman with incredible patience. She's a special person. She inspires me to work harder for my family and for a better future for the girls. It is a blessing to have her at my side as my life partner." <br><br> "Here in the highlands of Guatemala, it is beautiful with thousands of colors, lovely architecture and warm people," Maria says. "This has always inspired me to design and craft unique and original designs."