Sarah Cowen, founder of Memah got in touch last year. She had been gifted a pair of our sheepskin moccasins (which she loved) and felt there were similarities between The Small Home's aesthetic and ethical values and those of her bag brand, Memah.
We caught up with Sarah to find out how her beautiful woven bags, now stocked by The Small Home, came into being and to discover the story of the weaving communities behind her brand.
The birth of a brand
When Sarah Cowen struggled to find a beautiful and practical baby bag that was not mass-produced, she decided to make one. Her starting point was a love of the bold designs and gorgeous colours in woven rugs from around the world. Research into weaving communities led her to a beautiful village in Mexico… so Sarah, her mother and four-month-old daughter, jumped on a plane to visit the village and to simply knock on doors. Meeting many talented weavers, Sarah’s vision started to take shape and Memah the bag brand was born, named after Sarah and her Ma who took this extraordinary leap of faith together.
A closely woven community
This village, Teotitlan del Valle in Oaxaca, has a rich heritage of textile weavers going back six or more generations. Memah makers have grown up at the knees of their weaving parents and children learn as young as 11. Whatever the weather, a family can still be together in their home weaving, working on their porch, chatting to each other and watching their kids play. The music of the village is the sound of the looms working day and night at times that suit each maker
Memah’s motto is “woven by hand with heart”
Each Memah bag is hand-dyed, hand-woven and hand-stitched, and takes four days to make. Natural wool is washed, dyed in small batches over open fires, then dried in the sun. Some wool is twice-dyed to reach vibrant tones characteristic of Memah bags. Tapetes, which form the bags, are woven on the loom one at a time before the bag is sewn into shape and the lining and pockets are added. Finally, the homemade leather straps are stitched on.
Mexican heritage is core to Memah
The diamond design distinctive to Memah is borrowed from one of the many Zapotec geometric symbols woven into the rugs. It is a simple shape, yet so bold and striking. It is also Memah’s modern choice of colours that sets their styles apart and brings the brand to the global stage. Much consideration and work go into getting a balance between vibrant and soft muted tones.
Consumers want connection
Sarah is convinced that consumers now want more than just quality and are searching for products and brands that align with their personal values. Source is everything. Consumers want to know the story behind the products and to understand the makers. By owning something that showcases the craftsmanship of a community, purchasers know they have made a difference and gained a connection to these wonderful communities.
SHOP MEMAH BAGS
Shop Memah Clutch Bags