Stories of the Seed: Jaboncillos


Even looking past the integrity of fair trade values, ethical sourcing, and environmental friendliness in artisan products--those of us who purchase them realize a certain undeniable sentiment in the idea that something was 'hand-made'. 

In a world saturated by mass production, there is a universal kind of nostalgia and connection when it comes to products that are made by the careful work, the touch of human hands. 

The seeds of the Jaboncillo, sometimes called the Western Soap Berry Tree, found in many artisan-made HPH products, possesses an even deeper degree of human touch.

For centuries, native peoples across the Americas have picked tiny fruits from these small evergreens, using them for soap. Scrubbed their hands with them, their dishes, their babies. 

And inside each fruit is a tiny, dark, shiny black seed. Today, the Guaymi women of Coppey Abajo collect these seeds, peeling off their husks, stringing them, and arranging them into designs sold through HPH including the Irma Bracelet, the Miriam Bracelet, the Felicia Tassel Necklace, the Shalom Necklace, and Dot Earrings. 

The most remarkable quality of the Jaboncillo seed is that the more it is touched, the darker, glossier, and more beautiful it becomes. The oils and spirit of the human hand--in history and work and connections that reach across countries and cultures--create something uniquely new and lovely.