MÂKUA is a Colombian jewelry brand that works with indigenous communities perfectly combining ancestral artisanal techniques with contemporary jewelry design.
We have launched several collections with indigenous women from the KUNA TULE ethnic group who are well known for their molas ( textiles sewn on panels using the ancient technique of applied embroidery.) The KUNA TULE are located in Urabá a region in Colombia near the border with Panama. Makua has also collaborated with women from the EMBERA CHAMI community located in the mountains of Antioquia. These women weave intricate and colorful patterns with crystal beads. In our last collection, we partnered with an indigenous comunity from the Amazonas called The COCAMAS known for their wood carving skills using sustainable native woods like palo sangre, or insira. Each piece crafted by these communities has an ancestral legacy and a special meaning according to their cosmogony and beliefs.
Our goal is to empower indigenous women in the communities we work with. In most cases the family income comes from men working in agriculture and it is not always spent wisely. We offer women an opportunity to earn income from their artisan craft and generational skills. Their work is crucial for their family and community. Through our work, they are encouraged to teach their craft to the younger generations ensuring this legacy does not become extinct over time. Instead we help them preserve the cultural heritage. Our jewels contain an invaluable cultural legacy that depicts the traditions, and cultural expressions of these precious indigenous groups. At Makua, we consider it extremely important to preserve these indigenous communities and their craftsmanship not only for Colombia, but for humanity as a whole. We strive to create timeless pieces that tell a story, the story of Colombia, and we want them to be cherished as a treasure you can keep for generations to come.
The most important about our work is the relationship with indigenous women. Our work strictly abides by fairtrade policies and corporate social responsibility. We encourage and allow women to work from their homes so they can combine work with personal alives such as childcare, family life and house chores. We want our artisans to feel that their work can be a natural part of their lives. When establishing delivery commitments, we allow sufficient time so they can do both, work and attend their personal and family duties. We also encourage women to organize themselves as a working group so they can each play a different roles in the community, contributing their particular strengths to the group. As we work with them, we train them in new design skills, which help them in all their future endeavors.
Another fundamental component of our fair-trade policy is fair price negotiation, not imposition. After prototypes are made the indigneous women set the price based on effort and time allocated to each piece. Once we choose to work with a specific indigenous community, we never stop engaging or impacting that community that we have touched. After a collection ends, we choose “best seller” pieces and continue to produce them as part of our permanent portfolio. This is our way to have a continuous positive impact in their lives.
We mix ancestral techniques from indigenous communities with goldsmith work mostly in gold-plated bronze. Both components are handmade individually to create unique pieces. Even though our pieces are made using with ancestral techniques, our aesthetics are contemporary with a modern feel and look.
At MÂKUA we launch a new collection every 18 months, with four derived capsule collections following the main one. So we always offer new and fresh designs on a regular basis. Each collection has two lines, the luxury line with includes elaborate statement pieces that reflect the main theme and look of the collection, and the basic line with more commercial pieces to complement it.
OUR FOUNDER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Maria Paulina, founder and creative director of MÂKUA, was born in Medellin, Colombia. She graduated from the University Pontificia Bolivariana with a degree in Architecture. Her background has equipped her with the tools and creativity to create jewelry that is not only aesthetically impeccable but also that reflects her technical and constructive perspectives. It was after she returned to Colombia after living in Buenos Aires, Argentina for 2 years, she traveled to an indigenous community (the Emebra chami) close to her home city Medellin. There she discovered the crystal beads embroideries they made with ancestral craft techniques, and she felt compelled to transform this art form into wearable jewelry for contemporary women. She decided to turn passion into her full time job and as a result, founded MÂKUA jewelry in based out of Medellin, Colombia.
Maria Paulina spends her time between Medellin and Los Angeles living in great company with her daughter Olivia and her husband.