our story



Altiplano is based in southern Vermont and Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Working with many cooperative groups, small family businesses, and our own fair trade workshop, we are committed to creating innovative products that support indigenous communities and the environment.

We are most grateful for our ability to make a difference, and to you, for supporting us in our ongoing effort to bring fair trade and employment to the Guatemalan Highlands.




As a young artist and anthropology student, Altiplano’s designer Shari Zarin, got her start making beaded jewelry for sale and trade on Grateful Dead tour.  Her interest in people, culture and artistic expression lead her on a path of extensive travel, exploring diversity and the many threads that weave us together.  
With a shared sense of wanderlust, the husband and wife team, John von Wodtke and Shari Zarin, are joined by many hands to bring you the Altiplano collection.  They live part of the year in Guatemala, where they raised three children who call both the Green Mountains of Vermont and Lake Atitlan, Guatemala home.  
Shari is especially inspired by the handmade process, and by the culture and tradition of women creating together.   Shari brings a fresh perspective to her designs  by pairing a modern aesthetic with traditional craft.  “I strive to inspire and reflect beauty through items of personal adornment.  The magic begins in Guatemala where my designs are lovingly crafted by the Mayan people, working together to create beautiful things and a future for their families.  Each piece has a unique journey to being ultimately chosen by the wearer as a creative form of self expression. It’s a whole beautiful story that brings my life joy and meaning"  
Altiplano is grateful for the opportunity to bring fair wage, long term employment to Guatemala for 30 years!  In addition, Altiplano's continued partnerships in the region support education, family nutrition, environmental education and reforestation programs.   Thank you for supporting our ongoing efforts, and  for finding inspiration in our work.