When 17 year old Alejandra Ramirez Vidal came to Australia to learn English for six months, little did she realise that eight years later she would be a Gold Coast resident with her own business.
MAVERIKSTUDIO, brainchild of Ale and her best friend Anite Kuiper, is a multi-disciplinary creative studio that specialises in many things including digital services and graphic design, and also imports artisan products from two Colombian tribes, the proceeds of which assist the craftsman and the tribes with supporting their traditional way of life. We got a little more detail on the company and its philosophy when we spoke with Alejandra.
Can you tell us more about the cultures of the tribes that you represent with your products?
We support two tribes out of 86 tribes we have in Colombia, The Wayuu tribe and the chami puro Tribe. The Wayuu (pronounced “Wah-You”) people are an indigenous Latin American group inhabiting the visually striking desert of La Guajira Peninsula which borders Colombia and Venezuela. The Wayuu live in small settlements called “rancherias” which consist of five or six houses. Within these rancherias, the Wayuu people are able to preserve a way of life that has been passed down through the generations and remains unscathed by modern culture.
Organised in matrilineal clans, the Wayuu children carry their mother’s last name, making the Wayuu women not only the center of the family but cultural leaders as well. One of the most significant aspects of culture that the Wayuu women practice is the art of weaving Wayuu Mochila bags. Each Wayuu mother teaches her daughter how to weave and crochet, keeping the tradition as alive and vibrant as ever. To the Wayuu, weaving is a symbol of wisdom, intelligence, and creativity.
As young Wayuu women come of age, they learn to create Wayuu Mochila bags. According to legend, the tradition comes from “Wale´kerü”, a spider that taught the women how to weave their creative drawings into the Mochila bags. Each design incorporated into every Mochila bag is unique to the weaver, telling a story through the bag’s colors, patterns and shapes.
The weaver takes careful precision in her storytelling, making sure that the Mochila bag is a strong representation of Wayuu culture. Wayuu women work full days while weaving their Mochila bags and can take up to a full month to complete one single bag. Today, Wayuu Mochila bags has become a means of financial support for the Wayuu people, which enables them to preserve their way of life.
Tell us how you ended up on the Gold Coast?
I came to Australia in 2008, 7 years ago. I was only 17 and I came to learn English, as having more than 2 languages is essential in my country. Three months after I decided to stay and study Graphic and Product Design at Griffith University. I volunteered in Africa looking after kinds with HIV for over 3 months and then moved to Melbourne for a year as I got my first job as a Graphic Designer there.
What are some of your favourite items?
Definitely the handbags. I feel the handbags from the Wayuu tribe are the key product of our business. They take 4 weeks to hand weave, and each one is completely unique and different. The colour combinations and the design come directly from the mind of the weaver as they don’t follow any specific design, is what they feel and how the see their life at the time.
Every single person falls in love with them, including myself.
To view photographs of the products on offer and track the next market day where you can pick some up in person, go to facebook.com/MaverikStudio