Designer Profile: Maoko Carroll

Our first Space2b designer profile is Maoko Carroll of Jamanapo, whose beautiful bags bring a touch of vintage Japan to the store. Maoko’s designs incorporate colourful Japanese silks and denim, often including a single button or contrastive hand-stitching that adds character to each one off creation.

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Maoko was first exposed to this craft while growing up in Japan, watching her mother sew and observing the different fabrics. However, back then, Maoko was less interested in the traditional Japanese materials than she was in Western-style dressmaking. Now, Maoko weaves together the east and west, traditional with modern, to produce unique bags and satchels, lovingly handmade in Melbourne.

She lives in Kangaroo Ground and is constantly inspired by her natural surroundings. However, the fabrics Maoko uses connect her with Japan. Each bag is a one-off creation, made with materials such as indigo cotton from kimono and fabric from workers’ aprons.

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In Japan, it is believed that each baby is born with a red thread on their little finger, and that their partner in life is born with the other end of the thread. Maoko beautifully ties this Japanese tradition to her products by sewing a button onto each bag using a red thread. This represents her hope of a destined partnership between a bag and its owner.

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Maoko has been a great supporter of Space2b. She loves the shop’s atmosphere, and told us after her visit to Space2b, that you feel welcomed when you come in, and come out feeling happy. One of our first window displays featured the Jamanapo bags and the story behind them. Maoko was very impressed by how we transformed the empty window into a space for storytelling. It is very satisfying for one of our designers to commend all the hard work that goes into Space2b and to remind us that we are doing  “something worthwhile and very special.”

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Maoko’s products have been some of our best-selling items since the start of Space2b, and a new range of Jamanapo bags are currently in store.

Meet the Artist Leila Ashtiani

Leila Ashtiani’s art exhibition has been one of the most publicised and talked-about events we have had since the inception of Space2b. It’s no wonder – her story is exactly what this social enterprise is all about. We always tell new customers about the purpose of the store, that “the profits go to migrants and refugees who are interested in art and design.” Leila’s exhibition is the perfect example of the product of all the hard work put in by the people behind Space2b.

Leila's art

Leila’s art on the Space2b gallery wall

On Sunday the 15th of March, we held a ‘Meet the Artist’ event, so that people who were interested in Leila’s work could come in and ask her questions. Since the exhibition’s opening, we have had large numbers of people visiting because they had read about her story in The Age. Her story has attracted people from all over Melbourne to come into Space2b and view her beautiful artwork.

Meet the Artist event

Meet the Artist event

Being so comfortable speaking Persian in her old Tehran art gallery, the challenge for Leila at this event was to speak about her art in English. However, the same enthusiasm for her art came across whenever she was asked a question. The attendees included people who had seen Leila’s art at previous exhibitions, as well as those who had heard about her work for the first time. Everyone was impressed not only by the art, but by Leila’s own lovely nature.

One visitor, Jane, described the artwork as “breathtaking”, and an intriguing depiction of woman in all her forms. As a woman, Leila’s work is inspiring because of its central theme of freedom. She was not able to show many of these works in Iran, so we are so glad Space2b could be a part of sharing Leila’s art with the community.

Leila’s paintings will be on show and for sale at the Space2b gallery until March 30th.

Hello from Jessica

Before I start writing about all the exciting things happening at Space2b, I thought I’d introduce myself. My name is Jessica and I’ve been volunteering at Space2b since September last year. I’m usually in the shop on Sundays, and also take photos for the Space2b Instagram and Facebook page. Now I will also be writing a blog for the Space2b website, which will feature news about the shop and events, as well as some volunteer interviews. Here’s a photo of me modelling at the Space2b Fashion Show – an event we had here in November.

Photo by Ian Main, Bayside Photography

Photo by Ian Main, Bayside Photography

I found Space2b at a time when I was looking for as many interesting volunteering opportunities as I could find, and while I liked the concept, I could never have expected to feel so strongly about what we do here. It only took me a few minutes in the shop to feel the welcoming vibe of the space, and it only took a couple of days of volunteering to realise that I’d stumbled upon something really special.

The volunteers here have often met the women behind the products, which makes it even more compelling for us to share their stories with customers. This is one of my favourite things about volunteering at Space2b. Each interesting anecdote I learn about a product adds to the story of Space2b – something that I have become incredibly excited about sharing. The next blog post will be on one of Space2b’s most inspiring recent stories – Iranian refugee artist Leila Ashtiani’s recent event and exhibition.

Follow us on Instagram @space2b_design to see photos of events and new products!