A favorite for scarf season
*** Discount code at the very bottom 😘***
We love all our products, but we’re so excited that this chilly season the top favorite has been the newest scarf addition, our Corte Wrap. It’s beautiful and cozy, but more that that, we are including two different groups of artisans in its production – the weavers who prepare the naturally-dyed cotton thread, and the embroiderers who do all the amazing embroidery work, stitch by stitch ❤️
And the result is a super soft, cozy scarf ❤️
Want your own? Use discount code SCARFLOVE for $20 off your own Corte Wrap just until January 25, 2017.
Chosen for the holidays!
Check it out, this is a cool shout out because it’s seemingly random and that’s what makes it so special.
NYC chef Lisa Adams listed Kakaw Designs in her list All Good Gift Guide 2016 😆
So cool to find out that she loves her Mercado Bag!
My Mercado bag accompanied me to the beach all summer, is used to carry dance clothes on my way to classes, and it’s a lightweight carry-on that makes me feel global wherever my destination. I use Kakaw Designs table linens in my food photoshoots as well as everyday use at my dinner table.
Make sure to check out the entire list!
Don’t forget, it’s the last week to get 25% off entire store with code HOLIDAY2016 🙂 Shop at kakawdesigns.com.
majestic disorder Q&A
Hey, guys – we’re so honored to be featured on majestic disorder!! Make sure to check out the whole Q&A with Mari here.
Challenging the often paternalistic approach popular amongst designers inspired by Latin America, Mari Gray of Kakaw Designs has established a unique blend of cutting edge craftsmanship with fair-trade enterprise…
…Diversity, heritage and origin are the foundation of Kakaw Designs and remain intrinsically woven together. How do you blend tradition and innovation?
We’re honestly still trying to figure out the right balance. Each of the handmade processes are traditional in their practice — weaving, embroidery, leatherwork, and silverwork. But the mixing of the different traditions is part of the innovation — combining textile and silver, for example, to make our pendants. We want to make sure to remain respectful to the traditional arts, especially whenever cutting a textile piece is involved …. I need to be absolutely sure that the end product will still transmit the respect and integrity of the original textile piece. I hope that this is felt in our product designs.
Don’t miss the entire article! Some of our luckiest products will also be making an appearance in their next issue….. we can’t wait!!!!😆
Why We’re Crowdfunding to Grow our Handmade Business
Note: This post was originally published on Eco Warrior Princess.
By Mari Gray
Many people have asked me how I first got started with my artisan-made business Kakaw Designs. The short answer is this: through a small Kickstarter project for $2000. That was my way of figuring out if people liked the idea of custom-made boots using traditional Guatemalan textiles. The answer was yes, and we’ve grown so much in the three years since inception.
Now, we’re doing another Kickstarter project (until November 20, 2016) and I want to explain why. Because clearly, ours is an existing business, not a recently launched one.
And it’s been going really well. So why another crowdfunding campaign? There are three main reasons…
We want to shift our business to work more with women artisans.
We started the business using beautiful repurposed textiles here in Guatemala. But the goal has always been to focus on our work with weavers and embroiderers. Because by working together for new textile designs, we are more directly contributing to supporting these dying traditions.
The downside is that this is more costly both in time and money. There is always trial and error involved, and the cost of making even samples is much higher because we need to prepare an entire loom of the commissioned textile. This all makes sense, it’s fair and that is how it should be, but it is an additional challenge that comes with ethical practices.
We want to balance both direct sales and wholesale.
This has been a challenge. In order to get into different retailers, we’ve had to increase our final price on some products, and develop new products specifically with wholesale in mind.
Related Post: 4 Most Common Dilemmas of an Artisan Made Brand
So in case this is all new to you, this is how it works: Kakaw Designs sells 10 bags to Boutique A, and this is called “wholesale.” Boutique A then sells those 10 bags at a mark-up (they’re a business too, of course) and so the price generally doubles from wholesale to final retail. But in order to keep our final prices aligned both in stores and online, some adjustments had to be made, which means that we’re probably losing some direct sales beacause of the price increase.
This is a tricky balance that we’re still trying to figure out. How much should we dedicate to wholesale, and how much to direct online sales? We don’t have a clear answer yet, but we do realize that we need to have both things going for us – both wholesale and direct sales.
We want to have our products ready-to-go, which means stocking plenty.
All our bags and accessories are ready for quick shipping both in Guatemala and in the US. We have a shipping person in the US so that our delivery time is reduced. She also ships international orders because it’s just not feasible to ship directly from Guatemala to the UK, for example. We also keep stock here in Guatemala to sell within the country at different retailers, and people come to me directly as well. Word of mouth is a powerful thing!
This is all great, don’t get me wrong. The business is expanding; we are growing. But again, the extra stocking investment is something we can feel as a small business.
Related Post: What Launching an Ethical Fashion Brand Really Looks Like
That’s why Kickstarter.
We’re using this platform to take pre-orders on our newest products focusing on increasing the impact with the women – for weaving and embroidery. The groups of orders are not even that big (ex. 10 Picnic Blankets), but it just means that we can go into production mode without having to invest in stock first, and wait around for a potential sale. By taking pre-orders, those products already have new homes, and that way we can also reduce our prices per product. We’re also not undercutting any wholesale opportunities because this is a one-time only project, limited-time. The prices will increase once the products make their way to our website. We’ve already developed the new products, and now we’re ready to gear up for production.
I feel like sometimes there’s so much emphasis placed on the growth of a business, it can seem like a linear, positive progression. I think growth is good, but it does come with its own challenges. Kakaw Designs is at a critical point right now, one that I’m sure many small businesses have experienced as well.
It’s a great, exciting step for us in increasing our social impact and staying true to our mission of working with female artisans here in Guatemala. It’s the perfect opportunity to check our work and make sure that we are on the right path. And joining forces and grouping orders allows us to take that next step with ease.
Want to support the Kakaw Designs on Kickstarter? Check out the Kickstarter campaign here.
We’re featured twice this week!
Check it out, we’re so excited that our products have been featured two times in just one week by ethical blogs, both in the UK. Kakaw is going global! Take a look at what they’re saying:
#1: Quetzal Wrap on Curiously Conscious:
Large enough to cover my shoulders and head should I want it, and thin enough to wrap traditionally as a scarf, I’ve been throwing this on with my long-sleeve tops to wear in and out of the house. It was especially great when combatting a sore throat I had this month, keeping my neck warm and comfy all day long!
Big thanks to Besma from Curiously Conscious for taking the time to take these awesome photos and write about our Quetzal Wrap. The scarf is available in two naturally-dyed colors. Make sure to see the rest of the product review!
#2:Quetzal Tote on Moral Fibres:
The bag is from Kakaw Designs, and is handmade by traditional Guatemalan artisans using locally sourced materials, both custom made and repurposed. It’s roomy, practical and gorgeous (but not trend driven), and is pretty much the perfect size for carting round my work paraphernalia. It’s sturdily made, and something that’s going to be part of my wardrobe for a long long time to come.
Wendy from Moral Fibres is going back to work after maternity leave, and wanted to highlight her favorite picks for this Fall. She looks great with our Quetzal Tote, and it sounds like she will get good use out of it so that’s great 🙂 Find out her top Autumn picks here.
It’s always exciting to see our products on other places and hear what people are saying – so grateful for all the support from the ethically-minded community out there 🙌 Helping each other make a difference by living mindfully, and that includes our choices in fashion. We choose slowing down fashion and supporting ethical practices.
We’re featured as a top ethical scarf producer ❤️
Big thanks to The Good Trade for featuring us on their list “15 Handmade & Fair Trade Scarves to Add to Your Wishlist”!
We’re honored to be featured by such a respected go-to resource for all things dedicated to social good. We especially love their focus on social entrepreneurship.
Here’s what they said about us:
Based In | Guatemala
Ethics | Fair Trade, Women’s Empowerment
Best For | Natural Dyes, Vibrant Colors
Price Range |$35 (Scarf) – $90 (Wrap)
Mari started Kakaw Designs in 2013 after returning to her homeland of Guatemala. After meeting artisans who were let down by local NGOs, Mari then decided that Kakaw Designs would create beautiful products ethically, while also being gentle to the environment and empowering women artisans. Their line of leather products has now expanded to scarves and wraps as well, 100% handmade with gorgeous natural dyes.
Choose your favorite scarf from our wide selection of handwoven and hand-embroidered scarves. And hey, our Hummingbird Wraps in Palo de la Vida are on sale right now for only $70 🙌
Natural Dye Story: Palo de la Vida
Did you know that “Palo de la Vida” literally translates to mean “The Tree of Life”? It’s soooo poetic and we love it.
Our partner weavers at the cooperative Corazón del Lago use the bark from this Tree of Life to get the rich chocolate color found in our Hummingbird Collection. The textiles are naturally-dyed with ikat designs and handwoven on a backstrap loom. It’s an amazing process, and because no words can really describe the magic, make sure to watch our video.
The chocolaty brown reminds us so much of Fall… and goes great with the genuine leather we use for our boots and clutches.
And hey, we have some good news: Our Hummingbird Wraps in Palo de la Vida are on sale for $70 right now ☺️ We only have a few at this price, so take advantage for this beautiful scarf season. Remember, your purchase goes to support these weavers at Lake Atitlán.
Conversation with Mari on Shatter the Looking Glass
Did you see? Mari was featured on a series put together by Shatter the Looking Glass! Take a look at the conversation with questions organized by Kelly from Cardamom Collective.
One thing I really love about Kakaw is how thoughtful and developed the products are, and how they take the work and situations of the artisans into consideration. What drew you to working in a way that was ethical and sustainable?
This is such an interesting concept, because to me it’s the most natural thing in the world. Of course the women prefer to weave and embroider from home – I would, too! I thought briefly about setting up a workshop for the leathersmiths, to facilitate quality control and supervision… but then realized that it would be so much work to just get the workers to come into one place, and to set hours… artisans in Guatemala don’t work that way. And as long as they get the work done, why should it matter? I like to work from home, and just the same, the artisans we work with do, too.
Make sure to check out the full post ⭐️
Mari’s Podcast Interview and Magazine Feature
Did you see? Kakaw Designs is featured in August’s edition of the Once Upon a Tea Time Magazine! Make sure to brew up a nice pot of tea before taking a look at this online publication, complete with a podcast interview with yours truly.
Please excuse my whiny voice. It’s so surprising that my voice continues to shock me every time I hear it in recording…
Big thanks to Priya from OUATT for being patient with my rambling thoughts!