News from the Zingara World

Who You Calling A Fool?!

August 18, 2014


Do you know your Fool’s Gold from your Blue Kyanite? How about Rose Quartz from Amethyst? We do! We’ve become amateur geologists at Zingara. Our big bin of rocks and crystals is super popular with the kids – and some adults too. With each rock you purchase, you get a little information sheet that describes its fascinating geology and properties. All interesting and scientific facts, however. So… to learn about the metaphysical properties attributed to the various rocks and crystals, you’ll have to do your own research. Sorry. We are putting to the test, though, the theory that Hematite helps one focus! We’ll keep you posted on that.

Fair Trade (Friday) Zapotec Bags

August 01, 2014

Fair Trade Zapotec Bags at Zingara

We just received a new selection of gorgeous Zapotec handbags and totes!

The colors are beautifully rich and the designs are traditional and modern at the same time. The bags are handcrafted in Teotitlan del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico, where the Zapotecs have been weaving since 500 B.C. In pre-Hispanic times the Zapotec people would weave their traditional designs using plant fibers on back strap looms. Today, they employ the treadle looms and largely the same methods of spinning and dyeing wool as introduced by the Spaniards.

The wonderful weaving tradition of Teotitlan is currently threatened by a vanishing market. Because of political violence that took place in the state of Oaxaca in 2006, plus problems with violence due to drug trafficking in Mexico, the tourism industry has dropped dramatically. Tourists that used to fill the streets of Oaxaca and Teotitlan have vanished, and the weavers are able to sell only a fraction of what was sold previously. Most of the remaining tourists go to the “big houses” in Oaxaca and in Teotitlan. These merchants buy weavings from the artisans at such low prices that many weavers are giving up their trade in order to find other work. By offering their crafts at fair prices at Zingara, we hope to help sustain this marvelous community of weavers.


The weaving families live in simple adobe and brick houses and all family members contribute to preparing and dyeing of the yarn and weaving the traditional tapetes, or rugs. Even small children will comb through the finished products in order to remove bits of debris that remain from the sheep’s wool.

Each home will have several large treadle looms, and each loom will have a different work on it, with various family members devoting hours each day to the long process. The treadle loom separates the different warp threads by the use of foot pedals, which makes it faster to send the shuttle through them carrying the weft fibers.

Many of the families also card their own raw wool, after a thorough washing in the river, by using two carding paddles with metal teeth. This separates, stretches, and softens the fibers. The wool is then spun into yarn using the spinning wheel or hand spindle. The thread must be uniform, smooth (without lumps) and durable.

In addition to the looms that dominate a Teotitlan home, you will also see hanging skeins of yarn in every imaginable shade. Many families are completely devoted to using natural dyes, which are concocted from a large variety of plant, animal and mineral sources. Natural dyes are prepared very carefully and laboriously and produce a large variety and subtlety of the colors, often depending on how well the mordant or fixer (usually lime juice) is mixed in. Other families prefer the more vivid colors produced by chemical, or aniline, dyes. Many artisans will use a combination of dyes, depending on the desired effect.


Though Maria Luisa enjoys every part of the weaving process, it’s combining colors that really makes her artistic heart sing. She’s also incredibly creative at making new products, and when asked about creating a prototype glasses case, immediately pulled out a woven pencil holder she’d made for her college student son to carry in his backpack. Her purses are studies in subtle and complementary color-blocking and traditional patterns.

José Luis didn’t begin to weave until he married Maria Luisa more than 20 years ago. One of 11 children in a farming family, he had learned to sew when he was a student in Veracruz. He does the stitching and leather finish work for Maria Luisa’s purses, with near-perfect seams and detailing. A heavy-duty sewing machine with industrial needles handles the heavy leather, but it’s his precision and eagle eye for detail that are the icing on the cake to his wife’s beautiful purses.

The family lives in Tlacochahuaya, a small town just a few miles away from Teotitlán del Valle, where most of the other weavers live. The shop inside of their home is spotlessly clean and arranged with an eye for beauty, with purses hanging from a wooden rack and rugs, cosmetic bags, pillow covers and coin purses lined up neatly on tables.

But there is always room to grow. “If we had a little more money with more sales,” muses Maria Luisa, “I would love for us to be able to upgrade our workshop,” she says. “I’d like to buy another sewing machine and maybe even get air conditioning one day!” (The shop is located in a semi-enclosed area under the deep veranda roof of the house, with one side open to the elements, and like most of the houses here is built around a central courtyard.)

“Above all, I want to make sure that our sons get an education,” she says. “We want them to become professionals who can do any kind of work that they want.” She herself wonders if she hadn’t have become a weaver, might she have become an elementary school teacher, or even an accountant.

“Weaving is our life now,” she says, “and it is a life full of color.”

We hope you’ll make these wonderful colors part of your life – and at the same time, help sustain a long tradition of craft in Mexico.

Rico Adair featured in California Apparel News!

July 14, 2014

Go behind the scenes with one of Zingara’s favorite local designers!

Re-Claimed, Up-Cycled Fashion With SoCal Roots
By Alyson Bender | Thursday, July 3, 2014

Growing up as a self-proclaimed “punk-rock kid” in Los Angeles’ Venice Beach neighborhood, Rico Adair always admired Vivienne Westwood’s designs but could not afford them.

Instead of sulking, he learned how to sew in his grandparents’ garage, making his own grunge-inspired outfits from scraps of fabric and editing garments he found to his liking.

“I used to dig through my grandparents’ closet and find vintage 1960s outfits that I would then tailor in their garage,” Adair said.

Following a few jobs in the fashion industry and inspired by a childhood hobby, he went out on his own and launched a namesake label in 2001, which has developed a following with collectors over the years. Everything is designed and made in Van Nuys, a neighborhood in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley.

All of his pieces in the one-of-a-kind, eco sustainable collection of clothing and accessories for men and women are made from up-cycled materials.

“There is never a shortage of materials,” Adair said. Many people donate old clothing to him. He also shops garage sales. “What I do is recycle—in every sense of the word.”

Adair sells his line in a handful of retail stores in Southern California, but the majority of his business is with private clients. Often, clients will give him one of their own garments to creatively rework and then will buy back the article from him. Over the years, many of his clients have become collectors, some of whom boast more than 50 pieces. As far as garnering new clientele, his strongest two leads are word-of-mouth and Facebook.

Adair’s items include dresses, jackets, shorts, tops and accessories…

“Everything I do is out of passion,” Adair said. When asked if he has a favorite one-of-a-kind piece he made since launching his line, he fondly replied, “I found a 50-year-old tarp that was my grandfather’s and turned it into a jacket. It was cool, but I ended up selling it.”

Shop Rico’s unique designs!

Win a Free Pair of Clogs!

April 30, 2014

Here’s a shot of our Clog Room. Show Us Your Clog-filled life on Instagram and you could win a Free Pair!

Let’s see your closet full of clogs, the clogs your beloved pet used as a chew toy, the beat-up pair you’ve been wearing for five years now….anything you want to share about the clogs you purchased at Zingara, we want to see it!

Follow us on Instagram and tag your photos #ZingaraClogs and @ZingaraTrading.

We’ll choose our favorite and the winner receives a free pair of custom clogs!
And there’s a bonus round: The follower whose #ZingaraClog photo has the most Instagram “Likes” wins 50% off a pair of custom clogs!

Contest ends May 15. We’ll be posting our faves along the way on our Facebook Page.

Fair Trade (Friday) Easter Cards

April 18, 2014


Happy Easter! Add one of these cute cards on to that bouquet you’re bringing to brunch.

Our Easter Chick and Easter Lily cards are lovingly handcrafted in the Philippines by women survivors of sex trafficking. The cards are created with a collage method and use a variety of handmade, recycled papers, making them environmentally sustainable, too!

Happy Spring!

March 20, 2014

Here’s a fun way to start off Spring: Visit the Getty Center to see the spectacular and huge oil painting “Spring” by Lawrence Alma-Tadema and be inspired to create your own spring floral headdress. (That’s a small detail above.) The 1894 painting depicts a traditional Victorian flower festival. The scene is set, typically for Alma-Tadema, in Ancient Rome. Even Cecil B. De Mille was inspired by the grandeur of the painting in creating certain scenes for his 1934 film, Cleopatra.

Erin Go Bragh

March 17, 2014

At least one of us here is half Irish, so I can’t let the day go by without an Irish shout-out. But get this – it also fits in with our Mexican theme today! In 1847, a group of Irish volunteers, including U.S. Army deserters, joined the Mexican side in the Mexican–American War. They were known as Los San Patricios or Saint Patrick’s Battalion, and flew the flag above – with the classic Irish harp and “Ireland Forever”. (You’re welcome, Mom!)

Benito Juarez and Zapotec Textiles

Today is a national holiday in Mexico celebrating the birth of Benito Juarez, a past president and progressive reformer of Mexico. Here’s a little cheat sheet of his accomplishments. And, because around here we love nothing more than an awesome gypsy wagon, here’s a photo of his carriage!

Juarez was born a Zapotec Indian in Oaxaca and, in his honor, we’re having a sale on gorgeous bags handcrafted in Oaxaca of leather and Zapotec woven textiles. The weaving is done with wool collected and hand dyed and woven on a traditional loom. It’s a time consuming, laborious process, but one that is a source of great pride. And, we think you’ll agree, ends in unique and beautiful results. Weaving is an integral part of the cultural identity of the Zapotecs. During the golden age of the Zapotec empire some 1700 years ago, the artisans were already well known for their weaving. The textiles were sought after throughout the empire and beyond, and traded widely. Today, you only have to visit us to own a piece of artistic tradition!

Fair Trade (Friday) Hearts!

February 14, 2014

Fair Trade Felt Mobiles

Our new favorite felts are handcrafted, fair trade mobiles from Nepal. The hearts are perfect for your Valentine decor! There’s a great selection of other adorable mobiles and purses for the kids that feature animals, alphabet letters, bugs (my personal favorites…), mermaids and other sea creatures. I’ll show you those next time!

For now… Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Perfect First Friday S’Mores Valentine

February 06, 2014

Tomorrow is First Friday on Abbot Kinney Boulevard and as everyone in Venice knows, our back garden is the place to be! We make S’mores over the open fire, we serve hot cider, and Erynne creates amazing Henna and Glitter Tattoos. It’s an all around fun gathering of neighbors, friends and visitors.

Be sure to join us next time you’re in the area!

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