Makaua means “hand to hand” or “giving a hand” in the ancient Nahuatl language, and the company continues to build itself on this traditional value. It begins with the workers deep in the southern mountain ranges of Mexico, and ends with the client, who can order custom-made product in any color they choose. This symbiosis means workers and artisans can live at home, keeping their families together.
In an interview with Design and Trend magazine (http://www.designntrend.com/), founder Beatriz Carregha stated, “Our company is based on the idea of valuing every single hand that has made and makes our story possible. Every single person who is a part of the project from cutting the palm, to packing and shipping the product, since we all work hand to hand to achieve our goals, and every part of the chain is as important as the others.”
Palm, of which the products are made, grows profusely in the ranges from which they are cut. The workers there don’t speak Spanish, but their own Nahuatl language. They cut the palms’ leaves, allowing the plant to continue thriving. Once cut, they boil the leaves until they achieve the desired off-white color. Dried strands are braided until they reach approximately four feet. The braider uses each leaf as a strand to make the braid. On an average day, the craftsperson produces five braids a day. The palm leaf braiding technique has been passed down generation to generation, and this sustainable natural fiber has been a resource used by people of the region for centuries.
Artisans purchase the braids, and if they choose to dye them, use organic anilines. They steep the braids in hot water containing the needed dyes. Only the most skilled of artisans dye more than one braid with little variation in color. They then use sewing machines to make their product, sometimes using molds for more specific shapes. The palm is pliant enough to weave, yet durable and long-lasting. The artisanship often takes years to master.
The woven, Fair Trade houseware is the result of collaboration between Makaua and its artisans. Each product draws its inspiration from the region’s natural world and its people’s strong traditions. The company utilizes this intersection of worlds and stories, along with a strong social media presence, to propel this creative vision forward.
Makaua will be exhibiting its Spring 2016 Collection at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from January 31st through February 3, 2016.