Charleston gains a new artisan design company: Proud Mary

Image by 20090212-bags.jpg

Harper Poe, a recent transplant to Charleston launched a socially conscious textile design company with her friend Molly Purnell in 2008 called Proud Mary.

Molly shares “Once Harper and I embarked on the process of creating a design company that would utilize fair trade materials from developing countries, we vowed not to let this idea become yet another good deed gone undone.”

And they stuck to their guns. Available exclusively online on their Web site, their products are hand woven and sewn by artisans in Guatemala. Seriously? Yep. Each pattern is woven by Guatemalan artisans whose skills have been honed by the rich tradition of woven, graphic patterns that are native to the region.

“Each of our customers is buying something beautiful while they support global artisans," reminds Harper.

How do they do it? Proud Mary enlisted Nest, a nonprofit micro-finance loan organization, to connect them with talented weavers and sewers. The artisans working with Proud Mary are paid double the average wage for their work and Molly and Harper are committed to providing them with a consistent income. Pretty sweet, right?

And they have big plans in 2009. This summer they will be launching larger tote bags (think beach bag), two new fabric designs, and naturally dyed fabrics. So check back before you hit the beach this summer.

Here's an interview with Harper Poe.