Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Maureen Dunn

December 9, 2016

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Maureen Dunn, creator of our Colorblock Teal Necklace and Altered Eclipse Necklace.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist/maker?

I’ve always liked being creative – making my own beaded jewelry and selling it at art fairs in high school, doing collages, and doodling all the time for fun. The process of making any kind of art makes me feel relaxed and focused. I went to college to be a filmmaker and I thought that was the way I’d be creative, but then a trip to India after college totally changed my direction. If someone would have told me 20 years ago that I’d be an ethical clothing and jewelry designer my mouth would have dropped open…who knew?

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist/maker?

Seeing someone random on the street wearing a dress or piece of jewelry you designed feels really special. At work we call it “Spot a Mata.” There’s also this feeling of connection and coming full circle, this idea that we get to know the ladies that made that item and the positive impact it has had on their families and communities, and then we get to know the woman here that wears it. A funny “Spot a Mata” happened a few years ago, when my dog, who was a puppy then, got loose in our neighborhood in Chicago. I was running around the streets frantically looking for her and turned the corner on a busy street to see this woman was sitting holding her. And she was wearing a vintage Mata dress, from when I first started the line! I hadn’t seen that dress on anybody for like 3 years. It felt like some nice karma. 🙂

What does your typical day in the studio look like?

A lot of meetings. Since I work in marketing and design I meet with both teams quite frequently. I do much of my creative design thinking at night, after my son is in bed, or when I’m running. My favorite days at work are when fabric or jewelry samples come in from our partner co-ops in India and Nepal. It feels like Christmas opening those packages! We work about a year and a half out for each collection, so I’m always thinking about three collections at once: the one that we’re just starting to design, the one that we’re about to place our orders in, and the one we’re currently selling. Like right now, I’m living in 2017. 2016 is OVER (ha) – at least for design. For marketing it’s still going strong.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

I keep a little pair of miniature sandals made out of clay that my Aunt Mary made me my right on my desk. She lives in Berlin and has been an artist her whole life and she inspires me. The sandals are perfectly crafted and detailed but are so small. I love anything mini, and I’m attracted to everyday object art.

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?

Well, my son, who is 3 and a half, sees Mata products a lot – especially my earrings! I wear Mata earrings almost every day, and he says “Mama, your earrings are so beautiful.” I’m training my boy well. 🙂

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strong pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” – Rumi

I have that quote right by my desk on a greeting card. I truly believe that – do the things that just come naturally to you, and try to put yourself in work environments that put you at ease and let you be your true self.



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