The bottom liners may consider handmade a luddite concept – the band of cotton and woollen mill workers of early 19th century England who destroyed the machinery. Yet, the handmade movement has made a comeback in the last decade, as artisanan-made products provide unique beauty and tales of the community for the wearer, while essential to rural economies globally.
Maha Loka was created with the desire to partner with individuals around the world who still use time tested skills to produce a small yet meaningful collection of beautiful bags. Founder Jamie Parker grew up in an atmosphere of creativity and hard work. Her father was a hands-on cabinet maker. As a young adult, Jamie discovered a lifestyle revolving around yoga, in which doors opened to her in how the mind, body and spirit can care for the self. This became the seed and passion that emanates in her brand’s philosophy. The name of her brand, Maha Loka, which translates from Sanskrit as ‘great world’, embodies a philosophy that celebrates the diversity of societies while supporting positive consumerism that minimally impacts the environment.
‘Each of us has within us the innate desire to preserve the beauty of our great world, and each of us offers our own talents that can help in that endeavour. This idea evolved into a company as a way to work with others who share a vision of global unity and sustainability.’
After listening to the lifestyle and experiences of a friend who grew up in El Salvador, Jamie was struck with how much imagination artisans have when crafting their creations, using the few resources around them. She explains,
‘Maha Loka promotes handmade craftsmanship as a reflection of quality, integrity, and style. Each unique product is a representation of the artisan’s unique culture, background and skills.’
One such artisan that Maha Loka promotes is Mexico-based Carlos Raul, who first began working with old leather at the age of twelve to help pay his school fees and to inject income into his household. Raul’s handcrafting techniques improved with age, yet he struggled with receiving a base salary to support his family, so he decided to focus on his developing skills in his personal handcraft business.
Since then, the brand has found many more artisans across the globe who are empowered to embrace an entrepreneurial spirit and sustain themselves independently.
Maha Loka is focused on using upcycled and recyclable materials, with environmentally considerate methods, in order to provide a minimal carbon footprint and healthy products that promote the lifestyle its founder wishes to promote. Similarly, the materials are all animal-friendly, as Maha Loka consider them an emblem of the great world the brand stands for.
To further this approach, Maha Loka has partnered with a local organisation, Alaqua Animal Refuge, which cares and shelters in animals in need through proactive community programs, to inspire a message of global unity.
As Jamie explains,
‘Change starts locally. It starts with understanding the needs of those in your immediate vicinity and who you can immediately impact. It starts with realising the effect of local practices on the environment. It starts with awareness. An increased awareness will lead to a desire to be active in sharing positivity, unity, and sustainability. Be conscious of the world and learn to listen and understand different perspectives.’
The most popular product, the Be Great Yoga Bag, exemplifies the Maha Loka lifestyle with its versatility. Whether you use it as a purse in your day-to-day routine, a computer bag for busy work days, or an athletic bag on your way to hit the gym or yoga studio, it remains chic yet functional.
Jamie believes that ‘when you are in tune with your mind, body, and spirit, you have an increased awareness of the world around you', which sums up that through simple, everyday actions, you may be an unstoppable force in helping promote a world in which we can all thrive together, while maintaining a healthy relationship with our physical environment.
And as the Maha Loka brand grows, so will its community.