Marissa Maximo is on a personal mission to empower artisan women in rural parts of the world and spread appreciation for their craft in the West.
Marissa Maximo is a well-travelled lady, something that her label Anaak is part accountable for. On a personal mission, the American immigrant and survivor of domestic violence quit her well-paid career at corporate retailers to share her experience and knowledge with artisan women in India and Bolivia whilst spreading appreciation for their craft in the West. Intrigued as we were, we dropped her a line to find out more about her Anaak venture and what effect she thinks the Trump administration will have on the ethical fashion scene in the US.
You left high positions at corporate retailers to start your own independent label – a very courageous move! What advice would you give to other people wishing to do the same?
I would say that it is not an impulsive act. In fact, it was something I thought about for many years. I even tried to talk myself out of it, but when the feeling persisted in spite of any argument I would make against, then I knew that I must do this. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t try. I would advise to be realistic, imagine the worst day, dream about the ups, but be honest if you can live and persist with the downs.
Anaak has taken you on some remarkable journeys across the world. What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt from these experiences?
I’ve learned that you can’t really understand a place until you have lived there. I have been traveling to India for over 15 years, and it wasn’t until I started Anaak and living there part-time did I really see the country, understand the culture on a deeper level and empathize with the people.
Aside from cultural appreciation – what’s the wider message you wish to push through with Anaak?
Empowering women. The current political climate in the United States has awakened the giant. It’s an issue that still needs addressing. And for me, it is a personal mission. As an immigrant woman who survived domestic violence as a child, I utilize my skills and professional experience to help women throughout the world by empowering with education, job training and employment that is otherwise unavailable to them in rural parts of the world.
What’s next for the brand?
Currently Anaak works with two non-profit organizations and cooperatives focused on improving the lives of women in Bolivia and India. I would like to expand our reach and work with more organizations throughout the world. Using Anaak as a platform to have a positive and real impact on these women. We are currently fundraising to help us support this mission and enable us to work with more women – www.gofundme.com/anaak.
Finally – any thoughts on how the Trump administration will affect the ethical/sustainable fashion movement in the US?
Honestly, I am concerned from a logistical standpoint. Anaak pays artisans a fair and living wage. And for women, provide them an independent income, where most all depend upon their husbands as sole providers for their families. Trump’s trade policies may cause an increase in shipping and duties, which would then increase the price of the product and less accessible to customers. This would ultimately limit Anaak’s sales and business, and reducing the amount of work that can be done overseas.
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