If you haven’t met Meghna Dave, founder of Maelu Designs, in person than you’ve surely seen her stuff all over Atlanta. Her intricate, handcrafted block print designs combine the best of color and pattern. Be it a dress, tunic, pillow, scarf, or signature head wrap, Maelu Designs has something for everyone.
What started as a one woman Etsy shop three years ago has grown into a small team of seamstresses located in her Goat Farm Studio.
YBN: Tell us how the concept for Maelu Designs started.
MD: After taking time to travel through Asia, I eventually landed in India where I met an amazing family of artisian block printers that I knew I wanted to work with. I started small sewing infinity scarves myself.
YBN: Describe the process for creating your items.
MD: Maelu is an environmentally conscious company centered upon sustainable textiles made with natural fibers and vegetable dyes. Items are all handmade and hand block printed, making each item a one of a kind work of art. Maelu strives to follow a sustainable business model by not only creating naturally made items but by also making responsible business decisions. YBN: How so?
MD: Maelu directly supports the artisans in India that block-print the beautiful fabric and also donates a portion of all profits directly to www.globalfundforwomen.org, a non-profit foundation supporting the advancement of women’s human rights around the world. We design the patterns in our Atlanta studio and then we travel to India once a year to collaborate with the talented block printers to help bring our ideas to life in the traditional method with wooden stamps. We have a small team that helps with the sewing process. We term our designs as “slow fashion” because everything is made in small batches. YBN: Tell us about why you decided to bring your studio to The Goat Farm?
MD: We’ve been at The Goat Farm since March, and we love it! We love the history of the buildings themselves. Visually it’s an artist’s paradise! We also love the supportive community aspect of the Goat Farm. The owner is very hands on and knows every resident, there is a coffee shop that is donation based and the Goat Farm puts on monthly dinners for their occupants to get to know each other and network. Regarding my space – it’s hard not to feel inspired with the big open windows, white brick walls and background music from the roosters! YBN: Where do you physically go to get inspiration?
MD: I get incredibly inspired from travelling. I go to India once a year to work with our block printers. The sights, sounds and colors in that one trip can be enough to inspire a new collection! I also try to supplement international trips with lots of little outdoor adventures around Georgia (North Georgia mountains and Cumberland Island being some favorites!) There is something about leaving your comfort level to go out and explore that always leaves me feeling creatively reenergized.
MD: I would say I’m a bohemian minimalist. I love to keep the basics clean and neutral and add interest through accessories or a great textile piece. I find this true with the way I decorate my house as well. It’s white walls all the way with lots of amazing textiles, artwork and greenery thrown in.
MD: Where to start.?! I live in East Atlanta and work in West Midtown which are two amazing Atlanta neighborhoods for food and fun – but very different! In East Atlanta – We Suki Suki is where it’s at. Bahn Mi is probably my favorite thing to eat at the moment and they are super vegetarian friendly too! The Earl is such a perfect little dive music venue and they have a mean black bean burger. In West Midtown of course have to throw the Goat Farm coffee shop in the mix. I have to limit how many times I’m allowed to go to Taqueria del Sol because I could eat their cheese dip every day. Atlanta is also such a supportive city for small creative businesses. Stores like the Beehive sell really amazing work from local talent and all the indie markets: ICE, Root City and the Ballog are where I end up spending most of my money.
*Maelu Designs is available at The High Museum gift shop, The Beehive, Squash Blossom, by appointment at The Goat Farm studio and online at http://www.maeludesigns.com.
Erika Burns is a Cultural Editor for You’ve Been Noted. (story + interview)
Lacey Sombar is a Photographer for You’ve Been Noted. (photos)