At a glance: Proud Mary is a line of textile goods produced in collaboration with artisans in developing countries across the globe, fusing clean modern aesthetics with traditional ethnic arts to produce pieces that appeal to a wide range of customers.
Who’s behind the brand? Proud Mary is the brain child of Harper Poe, who fell in love with the indigenous cultures and textiles in South America when she was there as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. But in addition to Harper, the visionary behind the brand, what makes Proud Mary work are the artisans she collaborates with including women’s sewing cooperatives and mud cloth cooperatives in Mali, a weaving village in the remote mountains of Peru, three different weaving cooperatives and two sewing workshops in Guatemala, a raffia producer in a small coastal town in Morocco and basket weavers from a village in the Sahara desert in Niger. It’s a brand that places high value not only on the design and the quality of the pieces they produce, but also on the people who produce them, and on creating sustainable business relationships with them.
What do they do? Proud Mary works with artisans all over the world to create traditional textile pieces with modern sensibilities. Their motto is “Pride not pity” and they help makers in developing countries by providing a system of stable work, paying fair wages, and keeping traditional crafts alive and in demand. They aim to bridge the gap between fair trade and fashion and they do it quite well, skillfully designing and selecting pieces that fit easily into a modern minimalist treasure hunter sort of lifestyle. They started out with accessories and home goods but have expanded to include women’s clothing as well. In addition to the pieces that they specifically design and commission, they also have a Marketplace section on the website where they sell one off unique items that Harper picks up on her travels. It’s a nice touch and adds to the feeling of being on an adventure as you browse through her stock.
What materials do they use? The materials are all sourced locally in the region of production, and so they vary from collection to collection. The fabrics woven in Guatemala are 100% cotton. The rugs and tote bags woven in the Peruvian highlands are 100% wool, with the exception of the Fringe Tote which is made of super soft Pima cotton. The Moroccan shoes are made of natural raffia. The textiles produced in Mali are mostly organic cotton, hand-dyed with either locally grown indigo or traditional mud dyes.
Where are they based? The heart of the business in the U.S. is in Charleston, South Carolina, but the artisans they collaborate with are based in Mali, South Africa, Niger, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Guatemala and Peru
Any special collaborations they do? In addition to collaborating with the artisans themselves all over the world, Proud Mary teamed up with the wonderful folks at Wax & Cruz (stay tuned for a full profile on them!) to make a great baseball cap out of denim and handwoven fabric from Guatemala.
Editors’ favorites from the line? There’s such a wide variety of gorgeous goods on the site, it was hard for us to choose favorites. The raffia D’Orsay flats are out of this world though, we especially love them in the color blocked indigo. We also love the massive oversized tote bags and the little clutches too. And of course, the Wax & Cruz baseball cap is a must have.
Where can I get the goods? As with most of the businesses featured on Goat & Gramp the best place to get Proud Mary pieces is at their own online store, but the business has really taken off in the past few years and their stuff is carried by over 40 retailers around the world. Check the stockists page to see if there's a retail store carrying their products near you. There's also a growing number of other online stores that carry Proud Mary goods, including Mohawk General Store, Koromiko, Twofold, Connected Goods (they’re not listed specifically as Proud Mary items on the site but we assure you they are), Garden & Gun and Lydali.