Alyssa Yamamoto is the founder of Hiptipico, an ethical fashion brand based in Panajachel, Guatemala showcasing Maya artisans and their handmade creations. Every Hiptipico item is thoughtfully handcrafted by indigenous communities, using high-quality sustainable materials. Ethical fashion is the foundation that Hiptipico stands on, with grounding pillars rooted in the belief of transparency, fair wages, and community support.
What led you to the beginnings of Hiptipico? How do the dots connect to now?
I moved to Guatemala in 2011 to work with a non-profit focused on education initiatives in rural Maya villages. I conducted a lot of home visits and interviewed a lot of mother. All were weavers. I fell in love with their stories and their talent.
What does a purpose-filled travel mean to you?
Overall, it is about connecting with locals. We have to remember, that when we travel we are no longer in our country. We should try to experience things through a different lens than our own.
What is the relationship you have with your clothes?
My clothes are a way for my inside to match my outside. Self expression is very important to my overall well-being!
Working with Maya artisans from indigenous communities, how do you go about your process with consideration to the impact on the locals and the cultural implications behind what you purchase?
My main goal is to keep local indigenous women on my full-time staff. They are the ones who are in charge of artisan relations and ensuring we are supporting their community fairly and honestly. Keeping the power with the locals is the best way to ensure cultural appreciation and fair practices.
What’s the biggest misconception that people may have about the work that you do?
To be honest, the fact that I am white working in Latin America seems to be an issue for many people. I do understand that to a certain extent. Which is why my goal is to keep local women in decision making positions on our team. And remind people that I am not a buyer popping in once or twice a year to exploit indigenous weavers by purchasing textiles for cheap. I have lived in rural Guatemala full-time for almost 8 years and have been accepted as part of the community.
Being more conscious and thoughtful about where our fabric come from.
What does sustainability mean to you?
To me it is about being more thoughtful with our lifestyle choices.
What is one thing you stand for and believe in, and why?
I believe that everyone has the ability to change the world. Even by just choosing to be more positive and smile or through huge development initiatives. Both have a place in this world and will instigate change!
We are inspired by Alyssa’s perspective on purpose-filled travels and are proud to have her as Fieldtesters, a group of inspiring individuals that test MATTER products in their everyday journeys of passion, to help us improve durability and design. Alyssa is wearing the Simple Shirt Dress + Vaya in Size 1.