{Meet the Locals} Mata Traders: Fashioning a Better World

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bursts of crimson and marigold, pumpkin, plum, petal pink: I really do love color, and I appreciate beautifully patterned pieces. Yet, why do I feel like I'm living my life inside a black and white movie? Each day, when I leave my home I'm somehow cloaked in shades of black and grey, again. A little help, please.

Maureen Dunn understands color and pattern. A Chicago native, Maureen is the founder of Mata Traders {mata is Hindi for mother}, a fair trade clothing brand teeming with vivid hues, handmade and block-printed with distinctive, sunny patterns.

This is fair trade glamour at it's best, what the gang at Mata calls romantic folk style with a modern, architectural edge. I'm ready, gals. Take me to your leader.

A nomadic soul {and kindred spirit} Maureen Dunn loves to travel and explore. As the story goes, Maureen spent four months traversing the Indian subcontinent on a round-the-world trip in 2003. Soon, Maureen was building a business by bringing unique wares from across the ocean to sell in the Midwest. Witnessing the poverty on her buying trips, Maureen also saw an opportunity. 
"As my business blossomed, so did my awareness of the conditions of poverty that exist for much of the population. I began to see my buying power there as a chance to make a difference, and I actively sought out producer groups that paid their workers good wages and practiced the principles of fair trade."
Mata Traders soon hatched with the goal of creating original fashion with impact. All of the Mata products are designed in Chicago and are handmade by women artisan cooperatives in India and Nepal; each style is unique because of this handmade process. Maureen soon enlisted the help of friends Michelle King and Jonit Bookheim, and together they are a mighty, mighty fashion force. 

Mata Traders, the company, and the women behind every garment are thriving. With each new season, Mata continues taking steps to combat poverty by giving women a place to use their skills and the power to change their communities. 
"Our mission is to work with organizations that educate, employ, and empower women. Spending time with these groups has helped us realize that even the most traditional women, when given the opportunity, thrive in a sphere of meaningful work that is outside their homes and families."
So, let's pack up the chromatophobia in our {probably black} suitcases and make a little room for some color in our lives.  

{photomontage by f+d} images via matatraders.com

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