Maribel and Dalia, founders of Artemateria and 2013 MRP graduates met while living in Chicago. They became friends through a common passion for Mexican artisanal heritage and design. Artemateria’s mission is to support Mexican artisans by sharing their artisanal heritage and culture. Artemateria exhibited at ATA’s booth for several years, and we helped them to become a separate exhibitor this February. Artemateria showcased their latest products at a stand-alone booth in the Accent on Design section of NY NOW. Here is Artemateria’s story in Maribel and Dalia’s own words.
ATA: Tell us about how Artemateria came into being?
Artemateria: We are both Mexicans living in the US. We always carry with us the sentiment of our home, the warmth of its people and the vastness of its culture. That is why Mexican artisanship and its beauty spoke to us in a way we hoped to share and exalt. We wanted to integrate our heritage and giving back to Mexico with our love for design; that is how Artemateria was born.
ATA: What was your vision and inspiration when you started your company?
Artemateria: Our childhood, culture, color, travel and contact with the arts and artisans of Mexico were our inspiration. Our vision was to translate that beauty of nature, of people, their stories and their craft into designed products that could be showcased and stand out in stores and interior spaces not only in Mexico but also abroad.
ATA: How did you get started selling your handmade items and where did you derive ideas/inspiration?
Artemateria: We participated in ATA’s 2013 Market Readiness Program as a stepping-stone to our endeavor. In 2014 we showed at the ATA booth in NYNOW and started building relationships with store buyers, interior designers, museum shops etc. We both love to constantly design and create new products. We get inspired by a synergy of the beauty of the artisan heritage and its surroundings and the current trends and techniques of high-end design and architecture.
ATA: Displaying at your own booth for the first time, how was the response at the NY show? What product drew most attention and interest?
Artemateria: We got a great response from new and repeat buyers, interior designers and the press; it was a very positive experience and the consummation of a lot of work! We like to design our different collections in a manner that integrates them with our color schemes and design aesthetics. Everything in our line is easy to coordinate. Having said that our functional pieces i.e. baskets and bags are always our most popular items.
ATA: What’s been the biggest impact on artisans lives back in Mexico?
Artemateria: As we have grown we have seen the artisans develop entrepreneurship skills; improving their administrative operations and handling digital technology. It is great to see how they get empowered and better organize and distribute the work within their communities. Being able to market their skills helps them improve their living conditions and support the education of their children. It enhances their heritage and their dignity.
ATA: What advice would you give other artisans who want sell handmade goods and expand to U.S. markets?
Artemateria: Look for outlets to learn about global design and current trends but have your product reflect your tradition and beauty of handmade. A great positive shift is that thanks to institutions like ATA the story value and mission of a product in the design market now matters and has meaning to an increasing number of buyers. Nevertheless, the product has to stand on its own quality and design are key while it’s also important to remain unique to your voice and aesthetic.
ATA: What’s your future vision for Artemateria and how do you plan to implement it?
Artemateria: Explore participation in more trade shows and increase our client base beyond the US. Increase turnover and competence in production and sales. Keep learning, expanding our artisan and designer base and training. Develop the necessary channels and workshops to develop new products -coming up with innovative techniques and materials such as our new hybrid textile collection which merges unexpected materials such as cotton or wool with metal thread and palm leaf- pictures to come. We also need to work on positioning our brand and making a deeper impact on the livelihoods of artisan communities in Mexico.