If you’re looking for something fresh and unique for your outfit, or perhaps as the next gift to a family member or friend, CHIA Colombian Handcrafted is your go-to resource for high quality, creative fashion accessories crafted by the indigenous women of Colombia. Passionate about pieces that tell a story, CHIA’s mission serves to highlight Colombian culture and support rural Colombian communities. Each piece at CHIA holds a rich assortment of stories about the people, places, and things that inspire the designs you see.
By: Jessie Monsivais Photos By: Rachel Benavides
Twelve years ago, Maria Borda and her family moved to the U.S. from Colombia. Borda, a professional artist who focused her studies on painting, creates abstract designs and images of indigenous people and their culture, colored with tierras minerals – pigments sourced from the soil. Borda’s travels to remote indigenous areas in Colombia inspired her to help these poverty-stricken communities.
The family-owned company, CHIA Colombian Handcrafted, sprouted in Corpus Christi in 2017 when Borda sold Colombian bags to a few close friends who admired her own. Brought to life to promote artistic visions of Colombian women artisans, CHIA provides direct support to the different regions from which the products originate.
“Once we saw how much people liked the bags, we took a trip to the coast of Colombia and visited different regions,” says Borda’s daughter, Mariana. “We saw the poverty of these communities with no water; living off of selling these products. My mom and I wanted to make sure our business is helping them 100 percent. We could have just bought bags through resale, but we know all the money we make is going to them and their families.”
Colombian-made artisanal products, such as handbags and jewelry, make up most of the company’s inventory. The launch of CHIA’s online marketplace nurtures the hope of continuing their mission to introduce Colombian culture through one-of-a-kind products.
The vibrant colors and designs hold different meanings tied to indigenous culture and spirituality. Beautiful languages, such as Chibcha, spoken by the Colombian Muisca tribe, tell of the region’s rich history and deep spiritual beliefs that revolve around the sun and moon – the word chia derives from the Chibcha word for “moon.”
“We partnered with Colombian women artisans from different regions, like the Guacamayas village, and Wayuu,” Mariana continues. “Our products come from them directly. I think the business brings cultural meaning to people here, and also [are] the primary source of income for thousands of families from rural areas with little industrial development.”
With a mission that advocates the beautiful work of Colombian women, CHIA serves as a gateway for positive change in these communities through the purchase of fair trade items while cutting out the middleman. With each product from CHIA, you might learn a bit about this beautiful South American culture, and even fall in love with the magic of Colombia.