Meet our founder
Wakami’s journey began with a dream. After graduating from Cornell University with a Masters in Biology, Maria Pacheco returned home to Guatemala. Her country was suffering. A 32 year civil war had destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure and the people who suffered the most were women and children from rural communities who faced violence, malnutrition, and displacement. She dreamed of restoring the country’s ecosystems.
In collaboration with local farmers, she began to plant trees. To make the project sustainable, they began to sell wooden toys and home décor. The venture was called El Conejo de Sacalá and over the years it has grown, supporting over 2,500 rural Guatemalan farmers.
When famine was declared in Guatemala, Maria visited one of the remote famine-stricken villages and what she experienced changed her life. Women were having to make choices as to which children would eat and which would receive medical care. Their decisions were coming down to life or death. When Maria asked a mother holding her sick child what she could do to help, the mother responded:
“If you can sell what we produce, the rest we can do.”
From that moment on, Maria began creating value chains that connected producer communities to global markets. In collaboration with her cousin, Queta, Maria established Wakami, an ethical fashion accessories brand. Inspired by a poem Maria wrote in college, Wakami began training and collaborating with artisans in remote villages to create woven bracelets.
Over the years, Wakami has become a social ecosystem that connects rural communities to global markets to generate income and transform cycles of poverty into cycles of prosperity.