I am a guilty consumer of fast fashion. It’s easy and convenient, plus did I mention those hits of dopamine? During the holidays, my partner and I reached a point of having multiple orders coming in each week and it was clearly becoming a problem. After making frequent trips down to the garbage, you start to realize the accumulation of waste from all of these material objects. In this line of production, the hand that makes what you consume is rendered invisible and it makes this type of consumption start to feel icky.
At Mararamiro, founder Tanya Tessier centers craft makers and their stories at the forefront of her business, creating authentic relationships throughout the entire line of production. “[During my time as a designer for Walmart], I was able to travel the world and go to all types of different home decor factories in Vietnam, India, and China. I learned that even when items are produced for the mass market, they are still made by real people’s hand’s and I just fell in love with how everything was made” she tells me over video chat.
It began as a passion between her and her husband, travelling around the world, learning about local crafts and picking up items for their home. From Tessier’s background as a home decor product developer and designer for major brands, she leveraged her networks and pre-existing relationships with artisans to ethically source and design her line of home objects. Stated on their website, Mararamiro’s mission is “to move beyond the throw-away culture and conspicuous consumption by offering a thoughtful experience that values the joy of discovering unique home decor.”
The process of discovery is central to Mararamiro, it’s not only a home decor line but it’s billed as the first shoppable photography studio in Canada—the home decor items styling the space like Berber rugs, Tamegroute vases and accent chairs are all available for purchase online.
Tessier explained, “part of the reason I felt like this could be a good idea was because I was looking at other people’s content on Instagram and I would notice that people would always ask, ‘where did you get that [insert home decor item here]’, but those items would never be for sale. Answers were frequently ‘I thrifted it or I bought it from West Elm’. I saw that when people see items styled so beautifully, it becomes aspirational.”
Noticing this gap in the market helped develop the business model behind Mararamiro, a model that was able to garner funding and mentorship from Futurpreneur, a nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs launch their business by providing funding and resources.“I kept kind of passing each application round and [Futurpreneur] kept asking for more things like a financial plan, a twelve month business plan, or a signed lease. So it forced me not to think about it too much. I would just keep looking forward to fulfilling the next request and by the time I knew it, we were here”, she describes.
Now Tessier is at a place where she has launched her first collection, filled bookings in her photography studio, and is working to expand with projects such as designing a new pillow line (we can’t wait for the launch, for this she has imported mud cloth from Mali which are strips of handwoven fabric that are dyed organically from plants and mud).
“I want my customers to appreciate the slower made products to fill a void for people who are looking to get ethically sourced, handcrafted, unique pieces. Even when I was sourcing, I would hear about the struggles of these makers who rely on tourism to generate income and I wanted to help bring their work to Toronto. I was moved by their stories and wanted to support in any small way that I could” she explains.
The name Mararamiro was created as an ode to her husband’s Zimbabwean background. It is a Shona word that translates to “a manner of living encompassing a person’s values and attitudes; an expression of personalities, tastes and preferences.” Tessier is not just selling us goods or providing us with a space to shoot content, she is offering us the opportunity to create a new way of living. Acknowledging the process of creation as central to an object’s beauty and infusing these stories into the crafts they produce, allows us to support artisans by bringing conscious design into our homes.