The Chicabal Story

Chicabal was founded in order to provide sustainable fashion to the conscious consumer. We are a social enterprise that features upcycled and handmade products that are produced exclusively in Guatemala. Our bags are handmade from vintage Guatemalan huipils [wipils], the traditional Mayan blouse worn by women. We pride ourselves in handpicking each vintage huipil and upcycle these beautiful Mayan works of art to create durable, one of a kind handmade handbags. Each bag is lined with corte on the inside, a handmade foot loomed fabric used as a wraparound skirt in combination with the huipil.


At Chicabal we want to take a step back from mass production and contribute to a sustainable market with upcycled, high-quality, fairly traded and long lasting products. We are currently based in Malmö and Stockholm, Sweden, with direct contact with local artisans and entrepreneurs in Guatemala, including women’s weaving cooperatives and small family businesses. The designs are developed in Sweden and finalized in Guatemala in collaboration with our artisans. We are excited to share these one of a kind handbags with you, while at the same time developing a network for Mayan artisans, expanding their market abroad.

Our Philosophy

The name Chicabal refers to the Chicabal Lake, a crater lake in Guatemala sacred to the Mayan indigenous people who are the artisans behind the Chicabal label.

Our mission is to invest in people and their entrepreneurial endeavors, creating work opportunities for marginalized people where work opportunities are scarce.


Our initiative provides access to a larger profitable market to local artisans which allows them to share their unique handcraft to another part of the world, providing them with a steady income.


The Founders

Chicabal was originally founded by Helena Nguyen and Malena Friström in 2016. The founders both have a master’s degree in ‘International Development and Management’ from Lund University in Sweden, with experience in working with rural community development projects in various developing countries both in Latin America and South-East Asia. Using our knowledge,  first-hand experience and interest in sustainable development we founded Chicabal in order to provide ethical and sustainable fashion to the conscious consumer, creating long-lasting products with a low environmental impact and creating a positive impact on societies we collaborate with. 

We provide nothing that is ordinary!