Inspired by authentic craftmanship, sustainable and eco-conscious practices. Artissanos is more than just a handmade brand that makes household items, it is curated by history, culture and independent influence of Nicaraguan artisans. The Clothing Lounge sits down with Mari Tefel, Creative Director and Owner of Artissanos to discuss the artistry behind their bespoke brand.
When and where did you first begin?
I have always valued handmade pieces and worked closely with artisans. My collaborations were more casual then, made for my home or gifts for loved ones. These hand-crafted artisanal pieces add warmth, texture, and culture to any space. Moreover, they are pieces that last a lifetime and are truly cherished by the owners.
So, the idea and interest in designing unique pieces existed long before the opportunity.
In April 2018, the political crisis hit Nicaragua's already unstable economy and industries. It left many without employment. For months, local artisans struggled due to repression and violence.
I have always wanted to get more involved with Nicaraguan artisans. As events unfolded, I realized that it was an excellent time to collaborate and represent them.
The design products were eligible for sale under the CAFTA free trade agreement. And so, Artissanos was born as a brand and online shop.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
The history of this practice goes back to four generations. The household accessories that we focus on have traditionally been handmade by skilled craft workers from small urban towns in Nicaragua.
That is the bulk of our inspiration, and we are faithful to that from start to finish.
Over the years, we have streamlined designs to improve the process for everyone involved.
Describe your brand in 3 words
Handmade, sustainable, heritage
What is the most difficult aspect of running your own label?
The excess of unforeseen events in recent years has been most challenging. Yet, we understand that every industry and community faces this.
As a label, the ongoing strategy is most strenuous--monitoring the market and tweaking our approach to find our place in it.
Which part of the creative process do you enjoy most, and least?
As I mentioned before, the driving force behind Artissanos is creating these household items. It's also a great pleasure to make connections and introduce these unique pieces to the world. Altogether, creating the product line and forming partnerships with retailers is enjoyable.
The least amusing is controlling logistic costs. However, it's one of the most critical tasks as it impacts pricing and allows us to contribute to the business's growth. It's our responsibility to do this well, so we try to make the best of it.
Do you have a mentor?
I do not have a formal mentor at the moment, but I think we live in a time where that's not as necessary anymore. I learn and gather insights from the following people closely on social platforms. Nowadays, successful influencers or retailers provide a great deal of content. It's easy to be inspired, following an idea to an online marketplace and then finding how you can re-apply genuinely.
How long did your latest collection take to create?
From design to launch, our latest collection took about a month. Our artisan team is committed to our timeline and methodologies. We’ve all worked together to make this process a good one for everyone.
What are your future plans?
We have particular plans for the months to come. We are currently looking for a brick-n-mortar business so we can explore in-store. We will soon be certified by Okeo Tex. We are also looking to enter the European market and add other Latin American artisans to our offering.
Which pieces do you think everyone should have in their wardrobe?
Though we aren’t clothes-oriented, what immediately comes to mind is how you can dress your home and what pieces are imperative to make it cozy.
I think everyone needs texture in their home. You can choose from throws, rugs, textured seating, or tabletop items. All of them make a difference and bring warmth to any space. I’m currently reading The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking so the word “hygge” comes to mind when I say “add texture.”
What attracted you to The Clothing Lounge?
Artissanos values platforms and businesses that focus on handcrafted and eco-conscious materials and production. We are interested in creating a network that aligns with our principles.