Women Changing the World

Isla Mujeres Women’s Beading Cooperative


Our women’s circle has connected with a group of Mayan women who have created a small beading cooperative on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the Yucatan coast in Mexico. For many years, we have been bringing seed beads down to the cooperative when we journey to Isla Mujeres for our women’s retreat, Portals to the Self: A Women’s Circle by the Sea. We learned that the women support themselves and their children from the beading cooperative sales. They sell their crafts in a tiny shop up island.

Each piece of jewelry is unique, woven together one bead at a time, handcrafted over many hours and made from glass seed beads, shells, Swarovski crystals, semi-precious stones and pearls.  The play of texture, color and light reflects the centuries old Mayan heritage which they bring to their designs.

The purchase of one handcrafted necklace provides the equivalent of four day’s wages for these women and their families. Most of the women are indigenous and speak Mayan and Spanish. With this income, the women purchase food, pay for housing and cover school tuition, uniforms and books for their children. When we started working with the cooperative there were eight women. There are now over 57 women!

The Isla women are enormously appreciative of our efforts to help them be self-sufficient economically. We feel like our circle of women now extends to include these women as well. All profits (100%) go to the Isla women with 20% of their earnings going to the beading cooperative to purchase more supplies. When we started this collaboration, there were 8 women in the beading cooperative. There are now over 57 women who are actively beading and selling their jewelry! As the cooperative has grown, the women have a large social support group and the co-op functions as an extended family. We are committed to expanding their global markets and have created a presence for the cooperative on social media by making them a website, Facebook page and Trip Advisor page.

As each woman from our retreat returns to her community, a web of wisdom and activism begins to change our world. When women clarify what they stand for and whom they are willing to stand up for, everything and anything becomes possible. Our two circles are interwoven – right mindedness in action. We are all enriched on this Island of Women.

If you would like to donate beads, please contact us at info@islawomensretreat.com. Our heartfelt thanks to you for helping to support our amigas…the women of Isla Mujeres and their beading cooperative.

Many thanks,

Karen, Ceci, Elaine, Peggy, Marcela, Rocio, Cecilia, Jacinta, Lidia, Lucero, Cristina, Chabela, Lupe, Silvia, Cassandra, Amable, Marbela and all the women of the beading cooperative!