Manufacturing

Process

We care about the world and our place in it. Our collections are made in small batches by artisans who carry generational knowledge of the beautiful heritage techniques incorporated into each of our products. Our values guide every decision we make -- from how we design to how we manufacture. We are in a state of continual improvement. We invite you on this journey with us as we strive to build a more equitable future for manufacturing, one rooted in transparency and respect.

Design Philosophy

MINNA grew out of a designer’s art practice. We take a Bauhaus approach to the design process, considering technique and final use from the onset. This approach requires a technical perspective, first we learn how a technique works and use this understanding to begin co-creation. Co-creation and design is not a one-size fits all process. We have a different method of working with each group and often these processes have been refined and evolve over time. Sometimes this looks like sitting at the loom together with the artisans to understand how the weaving process can be utilized to create a graphic design, or discussing best ways to cut-and-sew a piece, or identifying which natural colors we want to use.

Learn about the Techniques.

Sara's original paintings hanging beside fabric samples in the studio.

One of our Barragan pillows being developed on a backstrap loom.

Design Philosophy

We recognize that the artisans we work with are the generational owners and designers of these techniques and we. We are honored to co-create each of the products that make up our collections with them. We respect the cultural heritage of the communities we work with.

Within the artisan sector it is not uncommon for businesses to take traditional designs and sacred motifs, change some colors or applications, and call the design their own. In reality, the ownership of that design belongs to the craftspeople who have mastered their heritage techniques for generations. This is why co-creation is such an important aspect of our design process. We take our time to ensure that we do not misrepresent or appropriate the culture of the artisans we work with.

Meet our Artisan Partners.

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Flexibility and Adaptability

As a business, we strive to keep sustainability at the forefront of all we do. Instead of placing one massive order a year, which is a common trend in the artisan sector, we place frequent smaller orders several times a year. Our artisan partners communicated that they prefer this because large one-off orders often aren’t achievable and create instability within the supply chain. This approach allows for work to be more consistent throughout the year in communities primarily reliant on seasonal employment. We’re aware of these seasonal positions (coffee farming, agave processing, etc) and adjust our ordering to accommodate.

  • Payment Terms
    Many artisan-made brands, large and small, have consignment, Net30 or even Net60 payment terms which means artisans are left waiting for payment long after the product is delivered. It’s important to us that we maintain payment terms that are fair. We base our payment terms and methods off of the individual needs and requests of each partner, typically paying a deposit upfront to initiate production and by the balance immediately upon receiving goods.Nulla vehicula
  • Agency
    We acknowledge that we are almost always not the artisan’s only client. We honor their agency in choosing who they work with, setting their own wages and schedules. How we approach production logistics has a loose structure so that it can be customized to meet the needs of the different countries and regions we work in. It can’t be one size fits all. We believe it’s important to honor that and adapt, instead of requesting they adapt to us.

Lines Rug in Dusk in process on a vertical loom in Arequipa, Peru.

Collaborative and In-Person Connection

Our process is highly collaborative. When possible, we design in-person. The artisans’ expertise guide how things are made - they know the techniques better than we ever could. While our designs are contemporary and unique, they are rooted in the shapes and patterns inherent to each technique. We find that designing together in person is the best way to grow our collaboration and our mutual businesses. Frequent visits also allow us to build relationships and meet new artisan groups through word of mouth. We actually found our first partnerships through an in-person connection!

We seek out partnerships with master craftspeople - knitters, weavers, embroiderers who understand the rich complexity of their craft. We also look for individuals who are specifically interested in innovation. We recognize that the designs and styles we produce aren’t traditional - and asking someone to create in a new style might not be their preference. We believe that creating sustainable employment using heritage techniques, albeit in a contemporary aesthetic, creates a process that allows for technique preservation.

2017: Sara and Arturo in Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico.

2019: Working with backstrap weavers in Cancuc, Chiapas, Mexico.

We Pay Fairly

There’s a lot to unpack with paying fairly and the actual cost of our goods. We build our pricing around the cost set by our artisan partners. We then incorporate the cost of shipping, business operations, staffing, etc. This is where we often get questions - how is this blanket, rug, etc. so expensive when I could buy it for ¼ the price in a market in Oaxaca (or wherever else)? The unfortunate reality is that it's not uncommon for artisans in markets to lower their prices significantly to make a sale, making these prices unfair and exploitative of the artisan’s time and craft.

We believe artisans should be compensated fairly for their art and should have access to sustainable employment through consistent orders. The artisans set their own wages, and we are committed to following fair trade practices in all aspects of our business. It is also important to us that everyone we work with is compensated fairly – within our Hudson team, all employees are at or above New York's living wage for a family. By choosing to make products in the way we do, we encourage growth and financial stability.

The unfortunate irony is that paying fair wages comes in direct opposition to price accessibility. These issues are systemic to the decor and fashion industries, where the individuals who make products are not the end consumer. This isn’t equitable, and is something we’d like to have a hand in improving.

Approaching Business with Equity

We recognize the power dynamics of working with communities that have been and continue to be exploited globally. We have always been careful of avoiding "white saviorism" in how we both operate and talk about the work we do. We do not believe we are "empowering" anyone, because that denies agency. The artisans we collaborate with are established and successful business people working to support their families, hire new weavers, and buy more looms, just like us. They are also brilliant artists, makers and designers themselves. We depend on each other to be successful.

MINNA creates a platform for weavers and artisans to continue their craft. We approach our partnerships with an understanding of the structures that exist among us — capitalism, white supremacy, colonialism — and instead of buckling to that weight, we find better ways of doing business. We recognize this is a process of both learning and unlearning.