Who Are We?
Steve Green and Sean Green
Owners, Accents West
Texans have a long history of being trading partners with Mexico and even today we carry on more trade with them than any other state in the Union. This is because our two cultures are so intertwined due to the large Mexican-American population in Texas.
It was only natural that someone coming of age in Texas in the 1960’s would be interested and intrigued about what life was like south of the Rio Grande river. My first introduction to learning Spanish was at the University of Houston during the 1970’s where I was studying history of the American West. Needing a foreign language to get my B.A. in Fine Arts degree, I started to study Spanish and Mexican history and in these classes I made friends with several foreign exchange students from Mexico. Immediately following graduation in 1974, I went to visit one of my friends in his home city of Oaxaca, Mexico.
On this initial trip to the interior of Mexico, I was taken on a day trip to the weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle about 30 minutes from Oaxaca city and I was completely awed by the friendliness and hospitality of the Zapotec Indian people. Since Spanish is their secondary language, they were very patient and tolerant of my textbook Spanish and they appreciated my effort, no matter how error-filled, to communicate. I was especially impressed with the quality of their weavings since before I had only seen tourist trinket quality rugs at border town shops.
Having a passion for Western History deeply influenced my taste in decor and while I admired the beauty and historic importance of Navaho rugs I was not in a position to collect them. After this visit to Teotitlan del Valle I realized the quality of the Zapotec weavings and saw their expertise in replicating many designs including Navaho. I realized I would now be able to affordably decorate my home in my favorite western motif. A real Navaho at this point and time was four to five times more expensive than a Zapotec replica.
So began my friendship with several prominent weaving families in Teotitlan del Valle of which I share over 25 years of great memories. These are a very proud people who take great pride in their work and whose word is better than a written contract. When I get overly stressed or bored with our keeping up with the Joneses lifestyle in the States, a trip to their village rejuvenates me.
After my first vacation to Oaxaca in 1974, I returned at least once a year until 1986. During these trips, I slowly built a nice collection of Zapotec rugs of which I was very proud. Then one of our family friends in Texas told me about a lady friend of hers who was getting ready to open a Western Art store in Wimberley, Texas. She arranged a meeting for the two of us where I did a showing of my rug collection. She was especially impressed with my Navaho design reproductions because they fit the motif of her Western store. She later commissioned me to return to Oaxaca and roundup a substantial quantity of these Old West looking Navaho design rugs.
The weavings took off and so did my career and business association with the weavers of Teotitlan del Valle. After importing several shipments for “A Touch of Taos” store in Wimberley, Texas, I learned quite a lot about importing textiles into the United States. I enjoyed the business so much that I started my own small import company in 1987 and have been continuing to do so ever since.
I have seen my Oaxacan friends’ children grow up and start their own families. Many of whom will take up some aspect of the family business and bring their own talents and artistic expression to their own weavings. While carrying on their traditions is of utmost importance to them, it has been incredible to see them embrace new technology and ideas which has brought growth to their village and improvements in their everyday life.
While my import business has included providing inventory for many prestigious stores and galleries throughout the West and Southwest I also had the unique experience of having a store at the infamous Santa Fe Flea Market. In fact it was during this time period I had the privilege of working with a University of New Mexico Regent who was an expert in archaeological textiles. We were commissioned by the regent to weave an exact replica for archaeological textile study to be used by the University.
I was fortunate enough that my own son, Sean, joined me in this journey after his own graduation and together we progressed from monthly markets to new and exciting opportunities at a wide variety of art shows, events and Rodeos – Taking Accents West to the next level thanks to our partnership. Together we have crossed this beautiful country countless times on priceless road trips to new and exciting places.
Accents West operations are based in Austin, Texas. and while it is our home office operations we go where ever people express an interest in our weavings. Our stock is fresh and exciting because we take numerous buying trips to Oaxaca throughout the year to find the newest and most unique weavings available. The weavers also work closely with us in creating rugs that mirror design trends here in the United States making Zapotec weavings a perfect decor choice. We are always available for retail and public showings of our rug collection.
Accents West is blessed in being able to pursue a passion for a living. Our continued mission is to share the beauty of these weavings and the Zapotec people with the world and hopefully create collectors as passionate as ourselves.
Growing up, the Rugs were everywhere in my life. So ubiquitous that I simply took them for granted. So too did I take for granted the frequent visits by our family friends, arriving to head west to Santa Fe, Sedona and so on. Little did I know that the impact this would have on my life would be beyond any expectation. Those friends, Zapotec Weavers from Teotitlan, were a little hard to talk to on account of the language barrier, but fascinating and hard workers who made sure to repay the hospitality later. While originally I never intended to enter the Weaving import business, in the end it did become a dream of mine. After graduating the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in History in 2011, I felt the connection even more strongly. After a long bout of soul searching I went to Steve and at that moment the ‘Modern’ Accents West was born. What followed was over a decade of fascinating experiences working together with the best partner I could ask for. Traveling, facing new problems head on, and meeting an endless parade of some of the most fascinating people I could ever have hoped to encounter. It has been a joy and an honor to help with spreading the magnificent art of the Zapotecs far and wide across this country – as well as meeting so many fascinating people along the way.