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Behind The Scenes

The Five Countries Where Proud Mary Makes its Rad Wares

When Proud Mary proprietress Harper Poe wants to source materials for her line, she doesn’t head to fabric stores. She hops on a plane to Guatemala, Mali, Niger, Morocco, and Peru—Harper works with local artisans in each of these nations to produce her ethically sourced label. Get the scoop on what makes each destination so key to Proud Mary below. —mattie kahn Niger“This is a palm-basket artisan in Agadez, Niger—a small village in the desert in the northern part of the country. Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, and recently, the town where our baskets are produced has undergone several suicide bombings and attacks. The people who produce the baskets are a mostly from the Tuareg population—a nomadic tribe in the Sahel region of North Africa. I spent time with the head of the cooperative in Burkina Faso last year but have not been to Niger myself. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be safe anytime soon, but I hope to be able to continue to support them from afar!” Guatemala“I’ve been to Guatemala the most out of all the countries I work with. When I go, I usually don’t like to stay in Guatemala City, so I try to go to the lake area—Lake Atitlan or Antigua—which are beautiful. In this photo, you can see children from one of our weaving communities around Lake Atitlan. The residents of this town, San Antonio Palopo, are Kaqchikel-speaking Mayans. Their dress is one of my favorites in Guatemala. They use a shiny tensile woven through much of their fabric and in their head wraps that I love.” Mali“These are artisans at our mud-cloth workshop in Segou, Mali. The all-male workshop is a social enterprise created by a wonderful Malian man with a goal of employing local boys and teaching them the traditional craft of mud-cloth dyeing and printing. In this photo, they have used mud from the Niger River to create the grey color and are using a bleach-and-soap solution to bleach out the chevron pattern. I spent a month in Mali in December 2011. I didn’t really know anything about Mali before I went, but it’s such a beautiful country.” Morocco“Morocco is where I’m doing the shoes. [Ed: Like the ones for Of a Kind, coming tomorrow!] They’re made in Essaouira—the people there are known for working with raffia and natural fibers and baskets. The man shown here is a cobbler by trade and is in charge of putting soles on all of our shoes. The raffia tops of the shoes are woven by ten village women in their homes.” Peru“This is one of our weavers in the mountains of Peru. She is using a backstrap loom to weave the natural pima cotton. A backstrap loom is traditionally used by women because the width of the loom is easier for a woman’s arm to reach across. The project in Peru has been really small—just a couple of bags—but the people who make them have only ever sold their goods in local markets, and this is the first time they’ve exported anything. They have really beautiful, beautiful products.” Now that you’ve met the amazing people Harper works with, see what they have in store for you tomorrow!
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Get Harper Poe’s Inside Scoop on Charleston

When Harper Poe decamped for Charleston from NYC in 2008, she wasn’t exactly sure what she was getting into. “I don’t think I was quite ready to leave. But looking back, I don’t know if I could have built Proud Mary into what it has become if I had stayed in New York,” explains Harper, whose line includes dresses, totes, pillows, and shoes produced by artisans abroad. Here, she highlights the spots that have made her feel so at-home in her new city. —mattie kahn “One of my favorite things to do is take my bike downtown to an area called South of Broad Street where the big mansions are. I love running my bike down there. It’s a good biking town.” “My favorite brunch spot is this place called The Gin Joint. They have really good fried chicken and waffles.”(182 E. Bay St., 843-513-5264) “I really like this store called Worthwhile. It’s a little clothing and accessories boutique, and it’s just really well-curated. They carry Isabel Marant and Gary Graham and some interesting Japanese labels, plus some good books and fragrances.”(268 King St., 843-723-4418) “There’s a new kind of Thai/Vietnamese place called Xiao Bao Biscuit. It’s right around the corner from my house. We were seriously lacking in ethnic food around here, so it’s great. They have this scallion pancake that’s really awesome.”(224 Rutledge Ave.) “My favorite beach is Folly Beach. At the moment, I’d say I’m a very bad surfer, but that’s my summer goal—to get better. It’s the hardest thing ever, but when you get it right, it’s the best feeling in the world.” Come back tomorrow for Harper’s edition, ready for a trip to Charleston or anywhere!
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