The bustling streets of Antigua, Guatemala overflow with a rainbow of handwoven bags, clothes and blankets. Amidst the sea of colors, Molly Berry searches for the one thing that seems impossible to find – a neutral-toned, handwoven bedspread.
“Anyone who has ever traveled to Guatemala can attest to the fact that it’s a beautifully bright and colorful place – the people, the clothing the walls, everything is full of life and color,” Molly said. “But living here, I didn’t necessarily want the inside of my home to look exactly like the outside.”
As Molly wandered through the town, talking to locals and searching for those elusive neutral tones, she saw an opportunity. The local economy was in need of help, and Molly had a vision of bringing these handwoven textiles to the modern home.
“When I first went looking for a bedspread, I didn’t realize it would become a business, but my instincts were strong and told me to run with it,” Molly said. “It’s grown into something even bigger and better than I could have imagined.”
Growing up surrounded by colorful cloths, patterns and textures from different cultures all over the world, she was bred with a knack for design. Her mom, grandmother, great grandmother and great aunt accumulated an impressive collection of textiles ranging from Spain to Turkey, France to Mexico, Guatemala to Africa, Hungary to the United States – some of which dated back to the early 20th century. An appreciation for textiles was woven into Molly’s upbringing, but she didn’t start creating her own designs until she moved to Guatemala and went in search of that bedspread.
“Although I always appreciated the beauty and cultural element of textiles, I didn’t begin designing them until moving to Guatemala at which point my creative background in design merged naturally with the culture of weaving here.”
Though she was born and raised in San Francisco, and it’s where her family lives and where her heart remains rooted, she always had a desire to travel. And, as soon as she had the opportunity, she took it. At 20, she moved to England, lived in Italy for a bit and moved around as much as she could. She before she and her husband got married, they both had work opportunities in Panama (which we actively sought) so they tied the knot, took the plunge, and moved. Eventually they moved to Guatemala where they now have a sustainable tree plantation on the Caribbean Coast with endangered tropical hardwoods like mahogany and rosewood as well as cacao trees.
“Traveling has inspired most of my life decisions,” Molly said. “After college, I avoided a 9 to 5 job at all costs because I couldn’t fathom a life of only two weeks of vacation a year.”
Molly launched Luna Zorro – named for her daughter Hazel Moon and her son Joaquin Fox – with zero capital, which Molly views as a blessing. The business began with custom orders, paid for upfront, which forced her to be especially mindful and strategic about every dollar she spent.
Luna Zorro’s first project was an order for 10 bedspreads for a boutique hotel in Casco Viejo, Panama. The project took about five weeks, and it was the opportunity Molly needed in order to know wholeheartedly that this was what she wanted to do.
One of her proudest moments though was when she was booked by one of her dream clients, Amber Interiors. Molly had been following Amber on Instagram for years, and loved the style of her interior projects – with their modern aesthetics paired with bold and unique touches.
“When she contacted me…I was so excited because I felt that if she was interested in my line then I was being recognized by the type of clients I was aiming to reach,” Molly said.
Many of Molly’s other projects have been influenced by the people and cultures around her. She developed a love for the traditional pants that men wear while working in the fields of the Guatemalan highlands. The pants are colorful, detailed, intricately adorned – and they inspired Molly to design a line of pillows.
“It’s such a cool and contrasted sight to see a man working hard in the corn fields, while wearing something so lovely,” she said.
Molly’s initial project inspiration usually comes from colors. From there she gathers texture inspiration and ties everything together with the new styles of weaving and thread dying she’s constantly learning about. Then she brings her ideas to paper using nothing more than a pencil, a ruler and color codes.
“Sometimes people will look at a pencil sketch full of numbers and ask me how I know what it will look like in the end, but I thrive off of working that way and using my mind’s eye to imagine the final result.”
In July, Luna Zorro opened an online retail shop that features vintage collections and a Woven-to-Order, customizable service. But although exposure and sales are on the rise, Molly hopes to continue interacting with clients, creating custom works and offering textiles “loom to home.”
“The vision and goal is that Luna Zorro will continue to be an exclusive textile design firm offering custom handmade, high quality pieces for the home while making a positive impact on the lives of Guatemalan artisans.”
Molly Berry: The Rogue Habits collection was based on creating something that’s not just pretty but functional. We decided on a towel as it can be used for so many different purposes from a wrap, a sarong, a picnic blanket, or a table cloth, and in colors that were more neutral and earthy as to blend into any home and stand as timeless piece. Once we decided on those elements and had a sketch ready, I went up to the highlands and met with Delia and her family who wove all of the exclusive Luna Zorro/Rogue Habits towels on foot looms.