Featured on The Maker Journal!

Take a look at this beautiful website full of narratives about artisan traditions and slow fashion practices around the world.  I love this online community feel of people who believe in the value of handmade beauties.

Our upcoming Textile Travels was featured!  Take a look at the whole piece here.

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I’ve found myself in a little pickle as the founder of Kakaw Designs, a small artisanmade brand based in Guatemala, and now also a master’s student in Sustainable Development in Europe.  It seems to me that conscious consumers are more and more focused on the environmental side of fashion, pushing for locally-made products and a general reduction in consumption.  While I am a big supporter of these movements and personally believe that More is not always Better, these trends lead me to wonder about the social and economic side effects for the small-scale producers that I’ve worked with for years now in Guatemala.

We are so excited for all the possibilities to come this summer.  Time to explore new creative ideas, together with our artisan partners.  Want to know more?  As always, just email me at: mari@kakawdesigns.com.

XOXO,

Mari

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Who is leading the Textile Travels in August?

Maybe you’ve heard the news – we’re so excited to be launching a new creative travel experience concept this year.Textile Travel announcement

We can’t wait to get into all the weaving, dyeing, experimenting with fun creative ideas, together.  We will be visiting our partner artisan groups with a small group of Makers (we’re thinking only around 6-8 participants for this first trip!).  Can you just imagine all the sharing, learning, laughing we’ll do?

**Don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself a Maker – the artisans can benefit from any feedback from consumers, and you’ll have a grand time learning traditional techniques in Guatemala anyway**

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One question we’re getting is…

Who are the leaders?

Well, that’s a fun team!  It will be me and my mother, two generations; like mother, like daughter.  My mom, Aiko Kobayashi, is a career textile artist and the reason why I have grown to love Guatemala so much (oh yeah, and also the reason why I was born in Guatemala to begin with!).  Her passion for all things textiles, her knowledge of rural Guatemala and Maya traditions, plus her personal friendships all over the country makes her an excellent leader of textile tours, which she’s been doing for over 20 years now.  But she’s been wanting to change things up, and I had this idea of creating an idea-exchange opportunity…. so we’ve teamed up to offer you this unique experience!

I’ll be arranging all of the workshops, coordinating everything with our Kakaw Designs partner artisans.  My mother will be bringing her experience leading international groups in Guatemala, her passion for rural travel, and most of all, her friendly relationship connections all over – people are sincerely happy to see her, every time.  After so many years, she’s built strong relationships with people in rural communities, and it’s a treat to be invited into people’s homes, to share family updates, and bring back pictures for locals from the previous trip.  It’s a nice personal touch that only she can provide.

I hope this answers a bit about the leaders of the trip.  Please let me know if you have any questions!  We’re taking reservations for August trips, starting at only $1800.  Let me know if you’d like to save a spot.

<<see the itineraries>>

XOXO,

Mari

mari@kakawdesigns.com

Dye Pot Plants

Supporting traditions with roots as deep as the chocolate tree.

Textile Travels featured on Birds of a Thread!

Note: This piece was first published on Birds of a Thread on January 5th, 2018.  Big thanks to Jacqui for helping spread the word about the trip.

I’m super excited to share this travel opportunity, hosted by Mari of Kakaw Designs, with you. Read on for the details. -Jacqui

Textile Travel announcement

Come together to share, learn, and create

Are you a crafty person who likes to make things and who cherishes handmade traditions?  I am, too!  But I bet our experiences and ideas are different.

That’s the basis of our upcoming Textile Travel for Makers, launching in August 2018.  While working with textile artisan communities in Guatemala through my business Kakaw Designs, I’ve come to realize how interested our partner artisans are in learning about different techniques, patterns, designs, and concepts.  And ultimately, wouldn’t it be ideal if these talented artisans could themselves take a more active role in the design process, without depending on designers from outside of their communities?

This is the part that I love most about working with artisans: getting excited together about new creations, and trying out new ideas.  But I’m just one person, and I only have a small limited number of ideas.  That’s why I’d like to invite other creative Makers out there to join us on this new journey of idea exchange in Guatemala.

We’re so excited to share our crafts together – our partner artisans are experts in natural dyes, backstrap weaving, embroidery, making ikat designs, and more.  But it’s no surprise that it can be challenging to think outside of the box in the rural context, especially for tactile and visual traditions like in textiles.  So, we thought – why not come together and share our ideas in beautiful Guatemala, and have fun while at it?

Our artisan partners are happy to share their traditional craft techniques, and they’re also looking forward to hearing about different experiences and ideas, especially with textiles.  We’ll be hosting workshops to facilitate creative idea exchange in a safe space for all of us to come together and take part in a true and real kind of cultural exchange that we can all relate to as Makers.

Who can participate?

Anyone crafty and creative is encouraged to come. Obviously weavers, embroiderers, and seamstresses have a lot to directly contribute to rural artisans, but also I think it’s really interesting to hear from people with experience in other techniques that are not prevalent in Guatemala, such as quilting, knitting, block printing, shibori, sashiko, or leaf printing.  Skills such as color theory, presentation of products, and simple photography could also all be very helpful, so please feel free to reach out, whether you’re an active “maker” or not. I think we all have something to contribute and can learn from each other.

How much will it cost, can what can you expect?

I’ll be leading the small group through Guatemala, together with my mother, Aiko Kobayashi, who has been a textile tour guide for over two decades.  We’re excited to add this creative twist, further enhancing both the visitors’ and the artisans’ experiences and making sure that local communities benefit in a meaningful way.  We’re currently taking sign-ups for the trip, with two available itineraries starting at only $1800.  For more details, please go to our website and/or email me.

Isn’t it great when an idea is just all-around good, benefiting everyone involved?  That’s how we feel about this new branch of Kakaw Designs.  Supporting our partner artisans even more while at the same time enhancing participants’ travel experiences in an ethical and sustainable way through exchanges based on common interests as Makers of the world.  We’re so excited to get our creative juices flowing, together.

Mari Gray
mari@kakawdesigns.com
kakawdesigns.com

 Cardigans

HOLIDAY SALE!

Our holiday discount codes are up!  Please feel free to use them for the entire store at kakawdesigns.com 🌿

Valid until December 13th, and we appreciate early orders, since everything is handmade 💙

  • Use code HOLIDAY15 for 15% off orders over $50
  • Use code HOLIDAY25 for 25% off orders over $100

<<Shop now>>

Our favorite this season?  We’d have to say….

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Our naturally-dyed and handwoven Duffel Bag, as featured by Sustainably Chic in her holiday gift guide.  We’re just about to bring back the Duffel in Indigo as well 💙

<<See the colors online.>>

We hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of the holiday season!  ⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

XOXO,

Mari

New! The Duffel is back in a new color for fall 🍂

The first batch of our Duffel was in Indigo, and the bags went so quickly – now it’s back in these fall hues we’re calling Chocolate.  It’s time we have some colors named after our cacao roots, don’t you think?

Chocolate Duffel alone 1 square web

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We’re so excited to share these fall colors with you 🍂 🍂 🍂  We love our plant-dyed and handwoven Duffel!  See what others are saying by reading customer reviews online.

<<Shop now>>

Photo credit: Leander Khil

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New: The Duffle Bag!

I’ve been wanting to make a larger bag for a while, mainly because I didn’t have a good one to take on short adventures.  That’s how many of our products have been developed, did you know?  I got a scooter and needed a good backpack, so tada! The Quetzal Backpack.  I bought a new laptop and needed a good sleeve, so tada! The Laptop Sleeve.  And now, our newest baby: the Duffel Bag.

The Duffel Hanging web

The Duffel Bag is made with naturally-dyed and handwoven sturdy footloom textile with two shades of indigo in stripes.  The genuine leather adds even more durability, so you can really take it with you on all your adventures.  It comes with two outer and two inner pockets.  Made from start to finish by hand in Guatemala.

Travel Essentials web

Some of my travel essentials this summer including our Duffel Bag, Laptop Sleeve, and Quetzal Shoes.

The Duffel S Ana web

We’re ready to start making our first batch!  We also have a sale event coming up for newsletter subscribers only… Let me know if you want in at mari@kakawdesigns.com, and I’ll add you to the list 😉

 

XOXO,

Mari

Duffel web

My Duffel Bag ❤️ Traveling the world together.

June Photo Contest

Did you know that we loooove to see where our handmade creations have gone?  It’s so much fun to share how everyone wears each item, and on what kinds of adventures the pieces get to go on.  I also have a great time sharing these pictures with our partner artisans – they get a kick out of it, too!

This month we’re hosting a photo contest via Instagram ❤️

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Enter by June 30th for your chance to win a handwoven, naturally-dyed ikat scarf. Prize will go to my favorite image, as simple as that 😉

This photo is from last year’s winner, Holley!

 

XOXO,

 

Mari