Women of a Certain Age. Part 4.


This woman has appeared in my blog before. The story behind these photos is fascinating to me. And, I hope I have my facts straight. I don’t know the women’s names in these photos, but I do know a little about the older one. I put this info together from talking to a few people, doing a little internet research, and actually meeting her son.

The story goes that this woman started in business by selling scarves that she had woven. She took her very young son with her when she went to sell them. She was not only a weaver, she is also a businesswoman. When she saw that she couldn’t get a fair price for her labor and materials, she decided to cut some corners. Many craftspeople in Mexico have done that. The major work, the real quality pieces, can take days or weeks to complete. I don’t fault them for earning a living, and I have some pieces that I really love that I’m sure were done by machine.

Her son, Remigio Maestas Revilla, took a different route. He has devoted his life to changing the economics of weaving. He now has many weavers he works with throughout the small villages of Oaxaca and he presents and sells their work at a price that is fair to them. In his own way, he is keeping alive a vibrant craft tradition. He has a few stores around Mexico, among them, two in San Miguel de Allende. (One is on Correo, just off the square…Los Baules de Remigio. The other is on Recreo…Juana Cata.) The work he carries is extremely high quality, and exquisite. It is all done completely by hand, and uses natural dyes. His main store is in Oaxaca City is Los Baules de Juana Cata.

And his mother, the older woman in these pictures, also has a large store in Oaxaca City, a few blocks from her son’s store. After inspiring her son to preserve the old, tradition methods, she is still motivated to give the customer a bang for her buck. She carries room after room of Mexcan clothing that may not be made in the traditional ways, but is still very appealing. The stitching is done by machine, and the price is not enough to worry about. You can put together a completely wonderful look for not many pesos. Personally, I love these clothes. I think this woman has a real eye for fashion, and knows how to put the inexpensive pieces together for a real statement look. She is a real success story, whose  legacy will be carried on by her son and his children. I visited her store several times while we were in Oaxaca. She is quite a salesperson as well. She greets you at the door and starts to show you things in rapid order. You find yourself trying things on right in the store. If you buy several pieces you will probably get a little discount, and the colors are so bright and the prices so low…..you will leave with a full bolsa.

Then you might find yourself in one of Remigio’s stores. All the merchandise is in impeccable order. Each piece is a unique work of traditional craftsmanship. The colors are from natural dyes. They are beautiful, but much more subtle. No one rushes to show you things. You browse around and think about which piece you would buy if you wanted a splurge. One night Fred and I were there and he bought a scarf for me. The shopping experience was very delightful. The scarf came with a little tag about where it was made and who made it. Remigio, his wife and two children, were in the store. I was somehow able to communicate how I appreciate the work he does. And, that I am familiar with his mother, a true example of a Mexican woman entrepreneur.


This is a link to a post about this same subject.

Feliz Cumpleaños, Frida Kahlo

Today is the birthday of Frida Kahlo, a great artist, feminist, and revolutionary. Frida Kahlo influenced the style of the women of Mexico and her image appears everywhere.  Her self-portraits are not only in renowned international art museums, they also appear on teeshirts, purses, beach towels, bolsas, and sarongs. She is elevated to near sainthood in Mexico. Rather ironic that a radical feminist is lifted up as an icon in a country that thrives on machismo. And, there you have it, another thing on my long list of things to love about Mexico.

The mother and daughter in this photo are two of the most interesting that I saw on our recent trip to Oaxaca. They have a store in the Centro that is named Juana Cata. The son of this family has another store on a different street, Los Baúles de Juana Cata. This store is quite famous and presents some of the finest textiles in Mexico. The mother’s store carries less expensive things, but is like going into the closet of Frida Kahlo herself. Frida was greatly influenced, not just by the politics of Juana Catalina Romero, but also by her fashion (as were most of the women of Tehuantepec, Juana Cata’s hometown near the coast). Frida began to dress in the style that Juana Cata had developed to show solidarity with the women of the Isthmus of Oaxaca.

And so, on Frida’s birthday, I send her good wishes. But, I also think about this interesting mother and daughter, who carry the flame of individual expression, and promote the fashion of their beautiful state. They keep the spirit of Juana Catalina alive, and also the spirit of Frida. And, if you visit the town of Tehuantepec today, you will find a matriarchy, all for the love of Juana Cata.

Juana Cata…Immortalized by a Huge Statue

Juana Catalina
This enormous metal statue of Juana Catalina Romero, the heroine of Tehuántepec, known simply as Juana Cata.

This statue stands guard at the entrance of Tehuántepec, a small town in southern Oaxaca. Juana Cata was a woman of power and of fashion. Her style inspired the looks of Frida Kahlo, and the women of southern Oaxaca still dress in the same manner, an homage to her memory and to feminism in Mexico. She devoted herself to helping the people of Tehuántepec, and her legend lives on there. This statue celebrates the woman who was romantically involved with, and strongly influenced, Presidente Porfirio Diaz during the Mexican Civil War. Her presence was so powerful that the town of Tehuántepec remains a matriarchy and women rule the town.