Paula Herrera and Melissa Moriarty - Mariya

Finalist of the The Trickle Up Most Socially Responsible Handbag


2017 Finalist Paula Herrera and Melissa Moriarty Mariya

Paula Herrera and Melissa Moriarty FINALIST'S PROFILE

What country are your bags manufactured?

Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?
We believe that by investing in artisans we have the power to create long-term and sustainable economic impact. MARIYA's handbags are hand-crocheted by Wayuu women artisans, an indigenous population that resides in the remote desert region of Colombia. Our approach to bag making is twofold: 1. Upgrade traditional artisan designs to increase marketability, and 2. Cut out the middleman to ensure fair wages. With the artisan sector being the second largest employer in the world behind agriculture, we can help to reduce poverty and improve self-sufficiency from the ground up. We employ modern design as a strategy for improving marketability, which over time helps to create a sustainable and reliable flow of work for our artisans, two key components to making a lasting social impact. In addition to updating the artisan-made bags, we utilize our founders' native Spanish fluency and modern technology like Whatsapp to cut out the middlemen and work directly with the artisans themselves, ensuring our artisans earn the highest possible wages for their wares.

Do you work with local/native artisans to design your bags?
Yes! We work hand-in-hand with our Wayuu partners to design MARIYA's bags and accessories. The designs are inspired by geometric patterns iconic to the Wayuu mochila, upgraded and refined according to our founders' aesthetic and then combined with our artisans' know how and sewing limitations to create our final product.

Working Conditions. (Are the manufacturers/artisans that are being employed being treated humanely, of age, and working in safe and acceptable conditions? Please explain)
We are proud to share that MARIYA's artisans work from the comfort of their own homes, where they can take care of their families. It's a flexible model of employment that allows for women of all ages, particularly elderly women who aren't otherwise capable, to provide economic support for their family unit.

Why did you choose this country to have your bags made and what made you decided to give back?
MARIYA's founders, Melissa Moriarty and Maria Paula Herrera, have worked with Colombian artisans for a combined total of seven years. The idea behind MARIYA originated when the two realized there was an opportunity to modernize the traditional Wayuu mochila as a means for creating a meaningful impact for a population in great need of support. With the idea to take a fresh new spin on artisan design, the duo came together in 2016 and started the line.

Bag Description
The MARIYA Halfmoon Clutch. Handmade from synthetic cotton, sueded lining, zipper close. Retail Price: USD 150. The Halfmoon Clutch is the definition of \Artisan Refined\". The traditional Wayuu mochila takes the shape of a round bucketbag. We take the circular base of the bag, a contrast of black and ecru, and fold it over to form the shape of a halfmoon. We then finish the interior with a structured liner, brass zipper and hot pink pom pom pull. Our Wayuu artisan partners make the base and pom pom, and the bag is finished in Bogotá by a third-generation leatherworker."

See other finalists from the 2017 handbag awards