Ivory Row in Nicaragua

Our creative director Grace Chang recently traveled to Nicaragua and came across an incredible story that we wanted to share with you. 

While strolling through the streets of Granada, she came across a store filled with these amazingly colorful hammocks unlike anything she had ever seen. Wonderful colors. Incredible craftsmanship. Uniquely original. As she peeked around the store, she also noticed a beautiful working space with high ceilings and graphic tiles, filled with busy workers weaving hammocks.

Upon entering the store, she immediately spotted a beautiful hand-woven bag. While paying, the salesman generously offered to show her around the space. 

Inside the store was a small garden with a café on the right side and tons of hammocks hung majestically. It was there that she was introduced to Senor Antonio, the mastermind behind the store. Well, it turns out that he was so much more than the owner of the store.

The entire space was a haven created by Tio Antonio. Originally a chef from Valencia, lived many years in Barcelona, who moved to Costa Rica in 2006, he realized he didn’t like Costa Rica much and came to Nicaragua. One day, as he was traveling to Antigua, Guatemala, he was hit by a storm so severe that his car ran into a ditch. A generous family kindly offered him food and shelter….for 37 days!

Tio Antonio quickly realized that the family’s oldest child Cano was 13 years old, deaf and mute. He wanted to return the goodness this family had provided for him and raised funds from his friends in Spain to get medical treatment for Cano. It turns out that, with the generous help of Antonio and his friends, the doctors were able to fit Cano with a special hearing aid that would, for the first time, allow him to hear and start learning how to speak. From this experience, he learned that there were no educational, support, or career opportunities for disabled children in Granada. It was then that he decided to launch a business that would help those children who were most in need.

And thus…Tio Antonio’s Hammocks was founded.

Charity and the social good are the foundation for everything that he does in Nicaragua. In addition to the hammock store, Tio Antonio also started a café (el cafe de las sonrisas) where anybody is welcome to come eat and work. The entire wait staff is disabled. In addition to teaching them sign language, he hung prints of sign language on the wall for people to learn and order.

Tio explained to Grace that her beautifully hand-woven bag was actually made by mothers of disabled children. Due to the non-stop care of their children, these mother’s can’t travel outside of their home. Nor can they go far to work. Instead, they make these incredibly bags at home and bring them to the store to sell. She knew her bag was special, but she had no idea how special it was until now.

We want to spread the word of Tio’s incredible mission so we've decided to help him in any way that we can. As parents, we can’t help but think of those incredibly hard-working moms making these bags to support their disabled children. Their message and these bags need to be seen and heard by as many people as possible.

So who wants one? Email me at grace@ivoryrow.com

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