Some people would describe fashion as trendy or classy, and even at times trashy! But guess what? Trashy is no longer a bad thing, what if trash is transformed into a luxurious and elegant jewelry? To be specific, if fish scales are transformed into fashion pieces it will look like this:
Isn't this just amazing? But what is more amazing is the creative genius behind this unique pieces! Meet Marujita, Owner, Designer of Armario De Maru as we chat together about her inspirations, sustainable initiatives and on being fashion forward.
What does ARMARIO DE MARU means?
“Armario” is a Spanish word that means closet. A place to keep your valuables items like jewelry, clothes and shoes.
And since our technique is a valued craft handed down to Panamanian women for over two hundred years, Armario De Maru reflects my closet, my creation, my ancestors. Maru by the way is short for Marujita. :-)
How did ARMARIO DE MARU started?
I have always been creative with my hands, a God given talent I would say. So I thought I should make use of it, but why keep it to myself? It is always more fun to share with others!
And this is why I love to work with artisans. I'm able to share an opportunity as many of them are undervalued. I see this as a chance for them to be recognized and compensated fairly.
You mentioned about an old technique, can you tell me more about it?
The fish scale crafting comes from a cultural tradition of over two hundred years in Panama. It originated with local women of humble background who created flower patterns from real flowers used as hair accessories for special events. However, the flowers didn't last, they withered too fast.
Hence, the fish scale crafting technique was born. This technique replicates the same flower pieces but with longevity. It became so popular that even the wealthy ladies began to use it. Because of this, the term “tembleque” which means 'shaking'. Why? Because the jewelry pieces shake as one walks or dances.
Today these gorgeous creations are part of the national female gown of Panama.
Do you make the jewelry yourself?
I personally create the designs while the artisans use their unique skills such as the “tembleque” in making each piece.
In the future, we are hoping to work with goldsmiths as well that will open more opportunities.
What makes ARMARIO DE MARU pieces unique?
We strive for sustainable production and quality. We make sure that we use certified first-class materials for each collection. All collections are carefully handcrafted which take time taking but resulting to exceptionally elegant pieces.
Additionally, as a way to ensure uniqueness and originality, our designs are registered for copyrights.
Tell us a little about your collections
We started with three collections back in 2017 with each collection lasting a year or so.
The first one was “Revive” as we want to revive the technique, the very basic, the flower origins. Then we moved to “Invernatural”, a collection inspired by Europe's autumn and winter colors and finally, our most recent collection “Silvestral”. This collection features the colors of the tropic flowers and the rainforest. By the way, this collection was named by Santiago, my son. We hope to spread this colors across Canada and the United States and at the same time create awareness of sustainability.
Wow, you are going international! How exciting! Where can we find your pieces?
Yes, very exciting indeed and we are ready! In fact, we were awarded the Best Handcraft Company for Exportation by the Panama Ministry of Commerce and the Congress of the Association of Exporters (CONEXPORT )in 2018.
On the same year, we also won third place as a company led by a woman. And last year, we won the Women in Business Challenge from the Toronto Chamber of Commerce based in Canada.
Our goal is to put promote the workmanship of our artisans and preserve our traditional technique. That is why it is important for us to keep growing and we have started in countries like Spain, Belgium, the United States and of course Canada.
Do you customize pieces?
Wedding accessories are the most common items we customized which is a special service, it is a one- time occasion! The pieces are designed to compliment the dress and the theme.
With the current situation, through facetime or zoom meetings, we can prepare unique pieces for any event the client requires.
Do you only focus on weddings?
The main reason we focus with weddings is because in many ancient cultures, fish are the personification of abundance and fertility. Getting married and wearing our tiaras and crowns is a good omen for the couple. Who does not want to get married and carry the symbolism of prosperity while walking to say “I do” to their special man or woman?
However, we are also growing and that is why we are creating collections for daily use and other special events.
Do you do pieces for men?
Yes, of course. We are fashion forward and diverse! Men today has become more adventurous and daring we well (and we love that!). We lapel pins that also have to customize.
What is the most common feedback you get about your accessories?
Well, many clients expressed that they feel more confident! People started asking them about their jewelry pieces even during videoconference meetings. We all need that 'make me feel good' compliment especially this days.
I want to create awareness such
that we can continue preserving this technique that was almost lost. We are
committed to bring recognition to every artisan we work with together with
their family as we grow and expand worldwide.