Meet Jeanette from MAAARI

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Meet Jeanette, co-founder of MAAARI. She will be hosting our Brass Stamping Workshop at the Tree House on Saturday, November 24th, from 12pm-2pm. We got to pick her brain and talk about how she got started, what mindful consumption means to her, and how MAAARI stays rooted in its social and environmental values. Scroll to read more!

Q. Tell us about MAAARI? How did it all start?

A. MAAARI is the dream of modern design rooted in consciousness, inspired by cultural traditions. There are 3 co-founders, who are all Filipino American living in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Brooklyn NY. We wanted to create a brand that allowed us to connect with our Filipino roots, give back to our culture through empowerment, while being sustainable and ethical. Each of us has our own reasons for coming together to start MAAARI, but for me it was a need to satisfy this creative void that I was experiencing in my professional career as an exhibition designer. I wanted to get back to creating and making things with my hands, which is why I dived deep into metal smithing.  After completing grad school for exhibition design, I began working on projects that I thought were fulfilling. I realized that even though I DO love my job, it wasn't my "ikigai" - the Japanese word that translate to "reason for being". Ikigai is an idea that represents 4 ideals - that which you love, that which the world needs, that which you are good at, and that which you can be paid for. MAAARI encompasses this idea for me. 

Q. Being a brand that values social and environmental consciousness, what are some challenges you face and how do you overcome them?

We live in a culture that doesn't value conscious consumerism. We live in a society that is fast paced, with the constant need to buy obsessively, not even thinking about what it took to get the product out there. Because of this, the standard for quality of goods made, ethical practices, and environmental impact is low. As a result, we spend more time sourcing environmentally friendly alternatives for our packaging, supply chains, and raw materials than normal. Our cost for these things are 3-4 times the price which is a big challenge when starting a business from the ground up and have very little capital. Over the years, we have learned that patience is a virtue and to never compromise our ethics to save a buck.

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Q. What does mindful consumption mean to you?

A. To me, mindful consumption means to be aware at all times of what you are choosing to spend your money on and how your purchasing power has a direct impact on mama earth, our economy, and the people behind the goods purchased. I don't think people realize that WE have the power to change the toxic, fast fashion world by choosing to purchase goods that have a low environmental impact that are made from sustainable materials and have a transparent supply chain. 

Q. Tell us more about you! Can you give us a rundown of your artistic background?

A.  Oddly enough, jewelry and metal smithing has nothing to do with my artistic background! I have my undergraduate degree in graphic design from CSUF, and moved to San Francisco to work with Juxtapoz and Thrasher Magazine. I absolutely loved living in the city and working for the magazines, but I knew I wanted to go back to school for design, to round out my skill set and to become a Master :). I've always dreamed of working in a museum, so I was accepted into the masters program of Exhibition Design at the Corcoran College of Art & Design in Washington, D.C. While being there, I was fortunate enough to land a design internship at The Smithsonian National Museum of American History & Culture working on an exhibition that is still ongoing today titled " Food: Transforming the American Table". After graduating, I moved back to Los Angeles, and started working for a small company producing a whole array of art events doing exhibition design. The projects range from smaller gallery shows in LA and NYC to large scale productions like Hello Kitty Con and the most recent ongoing project called Beyond the Streets. Working 3 dimensionally really inspired me to make jewelry. I wanted to make things with my hands again, and found metal smithing a really meditative process and fell in love with it! you literally make something beautiful out of nothing and being able to share that with others is really rewarding.

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Q. When you're not working on MAAARI, what else are you doing?

A. I am an Exhibition Designer, planning and designing museum exhibitions. My current project, Beyond the Streets, is the premiere exhibition of graffiti, street art and beyond that took over a 40,000 square foot space,  showcasing paintings, sculpture, photography and installations. The exhibition is scheduled to open in New York City, early next spring so I have been busy working with a team of people on that. I also try and do yoga as much as I can, but juggling my full time job and MAAARI leaves little to no time for myself :( 

Q. Any advice for others who want to begin their own endeavors?

A. Sleep when you die :) Passion has carried me through the hard times when I come home from a 14 hour work day and have another 4-6 hours of work to do for MAAARI. Also, just simply investing time, whether thats 1 hour a day or 10 - as long as you are constantly working on your craft, the dedication will pay off.

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Q. Where else can we catch MAAARI besides this November 24th at The CAMP?

A. We are doing a few holiday pop ups in NYC and LA!

Los Angeles pop ups:

Unique Markets DTLA - Dec. 1-2

Echo Park Craft Fair - Dec. 8 - 9

New York pop ups:

Renegade Craft Fair NYC - Nov. 17 - 18

Young x Able - the whole months of November & December. they are amazing because the pop up is specifically for women - owned small businesses :)

We are also going to be in a few retail stores in NYC, LA, DC and SF. I'm working like a mad woman on production with Misty Summers to get our jewelry made. Hoping to be in the stores before the end of the year.

Q. What do you hope people take away from MAAARI?

A. I hope that people appreciate where our goods come from, the story behind them, and the makers involved. I'm proud of the things my Filipinx ancestors created and I want to continue to preserve and share those gifts with the rest of the world. We recently did a blog post with a dear friend, Kristen Jordan, who said this about being Filipinx and it resonates with me so much... " I want to find ways to honor the journey my grandparents and ancestors undertook to get me here, all so that i can take the journey in reverse - to find home again. All things in cycles."

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Julie Shumaker