After graduating from Kenyon College, Cambria Foden wore many creative hats, from working in fashion-styling to doing production design in her hometown of Los Angeles. But after five years, feeling unfulfilled career-wise and seeking change, she and her boyfriend went on a wellness retreat in Ecuador. And it really worked, as she recalls: “It took me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to connect with myself on new levels.”
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. The pair caught a city-wide bacterial infection that kept them in the country five days longer than expected. But during their unplanned extra stay, Cambria stumbled into a small shop run by a young woman named Vanessa selling her family’s bags hand-woven from toquillo, a native grass. Cambria saw an opening to share the delicate-but-sturdy designs with a larger audience and, in 2018, launched Unalome (pronounced ooo-nah-low-may, a Sanskrit symbol for finding your path). “This unexpected turn of events created something really positive. Your life path is full of twists and turns but eventually leads you to your most authentic self,” Cambria says. Much like the technique behind Unalome’s bags, the rest is history.