Kate Gillette Garrett
A true lover of international travel and culture, Kate is a Dallas native who never misses a chance to grab her passport and set off on the next adventure. Her heart holds a special place for Latin countries - from the food and drink to the vibrant colors and the heartwarming people. She likes to think of herself as 'casi Latina'. ;)
On her second trip to Colombia, she purchased a Wayuu mochila from a shop in Cartagena. She saw that the international community had discovered the beautiful Wayuu mochila, but that they had mostly been reserved for beach life; she hoped to bring put the mochila in a new, less coastal light. After leaving her job in May 2016 and traveling with her husband, she returned to Dallas with just a small idea and was eager to get started. She continues to search for ways to create positive change and impact through her business.
She loves to collect items from her travels - her walls (and closet!) are filled with international finds that help tell her story. She has always dreamed of starting her own small business that combines her love of travel and other cultures with fashion. She resides in East Dallas with her husband, and their Goldendoodle, Quito.
On the streets of Cartagena, Colombia, you will see the beautiful mochilas (purses/bags) being sold at every street corner. You can’t help but stop to look at the vibrant colors and unique, geometric patterns, all made so much more beautiful by the colorful Cartagena streets and blooming bougainvillea.
But the bags have traveled many hours to arrive to the bustling city and their story is much deeper than a tourist token to remember an amazing trip to Colombia.
The mochilas are the heritage of a native Colombian people known as The Wayuu, located in the La Guajira Peninsula of Northern Colombia. The mochilas are handwoven, without a loom, each one unique and the vision of its weaver; the Wayuu tell a story through the patterns and colors of their bags, which makes each mochila completely one of a kind.
Each mochila is made by an individual weaver and can take twenty or more days to complete; it is a true labor of love. The Wayuu have been weaving bags for many, many years. It is a skill that is passed from generation to generation. The art of weaving is a symbol of creativity, intelligence and wisdom to the Wayuu people.
Weaving bags is a way to earn income for the family, while simultaneously sharing the culture and tradition of their people with those of us who are lucky enough to come upon one.
The traditional mochila is made with a hand woven cloth strap. Changing the cloth strap to leather and adding the fringe give the bag an updated, modern look, making it completely wearable day in and day out.
Working with a local Dallas Fort Worth leathersmith, Kate worked to create a leather strap and fringe that was deserving of the Wayuu mochila. To change the original strap to leather, it was only right to do so with high quality leather and superb craftsmanship. The detail of the leatherwork enhances the uniqueness of the mochila. Leather is applied in small batches using full grain odd lot leather pieces hand selected to match best with the mochila. The mochila is deserving of only the best materials and work, which honor the craft of weaving and tradition of the Wayuu people.
Your one of a kind La Viajera bag shares the culture and story of a people. Each mochila is a true work of textile art, so, as you wear your La Viajera mochila, think of the Wayuu people, whose heritage and love is woven into each one. And...as you write your own story, may it travel with you on all your adventures! Salud!