FLEAKIN' OUT WITH AMBOS DESIGNS
In 2007, Stephanie Wencl and Erica Lunn forged a partnership that would create sustainable projects based on accountability, fair trade, trust and innovation: started in Guatemala, Ambos—meaning "both," and a word used to describe the balance of two cultures—became a way to work with artisans from around the world to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind apparel with a social conscience. Now, the handwoven textiles and casted bronze belts from Ambos Designs continue to honor rich traditions through vibrant cultural collaborations.
Words by Sam Alviani
What does ambos mean to you?
Ambos Designs is a joint enterprise between artists in the United States and Guatemala. Together, we make high-quality handcrafted jewelry, handbags, and accessories. We source natural materials and work with our hands, using traditional techniques such as weaving, hand dying, and stitching.
“Ambos” means “both” in Spanish, and this collaborative, multicultural focus is a guiding principle in our mission. Through artistry and craftsmanship, we aim to find an elegant balance between cultures in a sustainable intersection of skills and peoples. For example, we often conduct skill exchange workshops so that we can share techniques with one another. Our work means more than just supporting “fair trade”; we strive for a future where artists worldwide can break economic and cultural barriers and become successful creative business owners.
QUICK FACT #1
Started in Guatemala; named for the fusion of two cultures.
QUICK FACT #2
Cultures interwoven with sustainable & fair-trade practices.
QUICK FACT #3
Woven bags, handmade jewelry, and handcrafted wearables from around the world.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Whether in the highlands of Guatemala or the mountains of Colorado, we are primarily inspired by the natural beauty and available resources of the world around us. But we also find our vision in the stories and cultures surrounding our craft.
HAS YOUR PROCESS EVOLVED?
Ambos Designs has evolved from the focus of fair trade into an even more personal, creative and individually empowering mission. We have become a team of artists who work to support one another by crafting from home workshops. We all call our own shots and create when we want, and how we want. We work across borders, sharing techniques and combining skills to create new, exclusive designs.
WHAT ABOUT THE MATERIALS YOU USE?
We use materials that are rich in cultural value; our Mayan fabric is hand-dyed and woven on a loom as has been done for centuries. We honor the traditions of the places our materials come from, using them in new ways but maintaining the highest possible quality in our work. We use materials that are local to the artist crafting the piece, along with natural or recycled resources, like plant- and seed-based dyes, recycled silver, and upcycled textiles.
WHERE DO YOU SOURCE THEM?
Much of our leather is sourced in Guatemala and some sourced through a company in Colorado. We collect one-of-a-kind stones throughout all of our adventures and Guatemalan jade is sourced, cut and polished by friends of our team