*** Wuto is now closed ***
Did you know that knitting is not really a well-practiced art in Guatemala? I learned this surprising fact while visiting Wuto, a premium wool shop in Antigua Guatemala. But wait, there’s more.
While the weaving of textiles has long been a Maya tradition, that is not the case with the art of knitting. In fact, it’s hard to find good, quality natural wool from Guatemala – if at all, and fans of knitting are left to practice their craft using acrylic wool instead. I also learned a bit about business ownership in Antigua Guatemala, so keep reading.
I learned all this from Maria Jose, Wuto’s gracious owner, during my visit there earlier this week. By the way, “Wuto” means “wool” in the traditional language of the Mapuche communities of Chile.
Maria Jose and her husband are architects by profession. Upon visiting Guatemala – stop me if you’ve heard this before – they fell in love with Antigua (told you – happens all the time) and decided to move there from Chile, their native land. The couple has been here for almost two years and I’ll share her interesting entrepreneurial story.
After the initial projects they were working on in Antigua came to an end, Maria Jose wasn’t sure what to do next. After a few months of thinking things through, she decided to put one of her many talents to use and opened a store that’s unique in Antigua – a wool and accessories shop that doubles as a learning workshop.
The retail space is creatively decorated and very inviting, as you’ll see in the pictures below.
In Chile, knitting is incredibly popular and wool – especially whose made from alpacas – is abundant. The culture in Chile is that women tend to learn to knit from an early age. This was the case with Maria Jose, for whom knitting is a craft that has been passed down through generations in her family.
In Chile, there’s a great appreciation for fine wool and clothing made from such. Wuto carries Chilean premium wool as well as Guatemala-produced acrylic wool.
In addition to wool and knitting accessories, you’ll also find many beautiful handmade items, all knitted by Maria Jose. In fact, every piece of finished fabric in the store was likely created by her – even the lamp I showed you earlier.
Wuto also offers “Learn to Knit” workshops, which run Q245 for four classes, one-on-one or in groups. At the end of the workshop, you get to take home your very own handmade wool item. Maria Jose speaks perfect English as well as Spanish.
The Wuto shop is located a block away from Parque Central, at 4a Calle Oriente #10, inside El Jaulon building (where Circus Bar is located). You can contact them via their Facebook page at Facebook.com/WutoAntigua.
Opening a Business in Antigua Guatemala
After checking out the store, I touched on the topic of business ownership. I was surprised to learn from Maria Jose that opening a business in Antigua is a fairly easy process. She was up and running, paperwork in order, in about a month.
Keep in mind that this is because she opened a retail business. Many people who come to Antigua are not that creative and choose to open a restaurant or bar instead, which is a much more significant challenge. Not only is there massive competition, noise ordinances and assorted legal roadblocks will prove challenging as well. Maria Jose advises that catering to foreigners here makes for better business prospects.
Another interesting tidbit I want to pass along is that when you first open a business here, set yourself up with the Guatemalan version of the IRS, SAT, as a “small contributor” (making less than Q150,000 a year). Much less paperwork and once you have enough business to call for it, you can make the switch and register with the “Regimen General”, a more convoluted way to do business here.
Click here if you’re interested in living in Antigua Guatemala.
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