Our limited edition Palm Collection is the perfect summer compliment to our wool bags. We are excited to be able to offer a new type of product, as well as to offer work to a new family of artisans dedicated to weaving palm. We chat with the MZ Product Design Director, Sam, about the process of creating a brand new product line.
MZ: What inspired you to pitch a new collection of palm bags, even though MZ traditionally works exclusively with wool?
Sam: Palm bags are very popular in Oaxaca, I have one and use it all the time. I met a weaver, Benita, a while back. She is such a lovely woman, and I kept on running into her. She had a small woven palm clutch that I liked, so I bought it and brought it to the nearby town of Santo Domingo, where they are renowned for working with leather. I had a friend add a leather strap to make it more functional and then I gave it as a gift to another friend. Everyone loved it and I thought, "we should sell these with MZ!" They're lightweight and perfect for summer.
MZ: Can you tell us more about Benedita and the other artisans who weave the palm bags?
Benedita has been weaving baskets with palm for almost 50 years, starting when she was thirteen. Hers is a family business, as she works alongside her mother, two sisters, and a cousin. Benedita is from the community of San Luis Amatlán, a traditional village dedicated to subsistence farming and weaving palm. Benedita says that not many villagers still weave, as most have migrated for work. She and her husband now live in the capital city of Oaxaca, where Benedita has a little stand to sells her bags. In addition to selling her products, she teaches her craft to others. She says her students often find it more difficult than they'd imagined, as the palm is so delicate.
All the woman of her family - mother, sister, nieces and cousins - weave the palm bags. Benita says her mother is the best weaver.
What kind of palm are they made with?
The bags are made from royal palm, which comes from Sola de Vega, a village nestled in the mountain range to the south. Prior to weaving, Benedita has to split the palm with her fingers, a task which takes about an hour per large palm frond. She can weave a tote in one day, or a few small clutches in the amount of same time.
What do you think is the ideal use/look for these bags?
These bags are great for summer activities - beach, concert, picnic or stroll in the farmers market! They won't get dirty, are breezy, lightweight, and look great paired with a sundress, sandals, and a straw hat!