With unique, creative, and one-of-a-kind designs, Cala Mari is a brand that can't help but catch the eyes of people that come across her products. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, the brand features “quirky artworks, surreal fashion accessories, off-beat home decor, and one-of-a-kind up cycled clothing for the whimsy, quirky and ever-curious individual”, as appropriately described on her website.
This week, we had the opportunity to sit down with the artist and designer Carla Mallari, the creative mind behind Cala Mari Sari Sari, and talk a little about the brand and her experience working with the Clutch Made Team.
How would you describe yourself as a maker and a designer?
I am always curious and constantly learning. I love working with my hands, and I also love technology. So, if there's a cool new printer that sublimates thread as it's stitched out, I will do my research and find ways to incorporate that into my work.
I've also become more conscious of the amount of stuff we consume and discard. During my makes, I try to find ways to up cycle and reuse materials before considering throwing anything out or seeing if I have a material that could work just as well before considering buying yardage of new fabric. It may seem a little limiting to some, but I think that's where innovation sparks.
Your products are so fun and creative. Where do you get inspiration from?
I get most of my inspiration from art, particularly surrealism, contemporary, and street art. Dali and Magritte first come to mind, then Kaws and Murakami. I love recognizing Space Invader's tile art in the streets, everywhere around the world. Then, of course, there's the internet, which led me to some cool artists I've never heard of. My last "discovery" was a graphic novel by Caza called Kris Kool. It's a wild pop, psychedelic graphic novel, and full of color.
What made you want to work with CM?
I scheduled a call to inquire about your services and gathered some helpful marketing tips from Laura during our brief phone call. Then I learned that you offered courses and thought it could be worth my while.
You have great brand imagery and Instagram posts. How is the business bundle helping you improve your business?
It's not only helped me plan my social media posts, but it's helped me develop my brand image, set a marketing strategy, and overall organize my time to manage my small business.
Is there a story behind your designs?
Not really. (haha) I love using all the colors in the palette and tend to color outside the lines, metaphorically speaking. For example, I'll learn a sewing technique, get the hang of it and eventually break the rules to create my own technique. I play with a lot of machine embroidery, which is traditionally a 2-dimensional craft, but I found a way to create 3-dimensional sculptures with it. To me, it's fun to design, whether it's a sculpture of an eye or my "hand" clutch. The process of problem-solving through designing is exciting. Though, I don't know why I'm drawn to body parts. I guess I'm just familiar with them!
Would you recommend CM's consultations to other brands? Why?
Absolutely! For a small business, the most basic tasks can pile up and quickly become overwhelming, especially if you're running the show on your own. You can easily lose sight of what needs to be done and what needs to be done first. The consultations have definitely brought order to my busy schedule of running a small business. Even though we mainly covered the marketing side, you can take what you've learned from that and apply it to other aspects of your business.
What lesson from the business bundle are you most excited to apply to your brand?
All three are valuable to me, and I have applied them to all aspects of my business, from general operations to design and production. The Design and Tech Pack consultation were insightful as a designer and maker because it allowed me to see my work from another professional's perspective, from aesthetics to the logistics of creating a product.
I now have a system where my marketing ties in with my production schedule, and it doesn't seem as hectic as it used to before taking the courses. So, thank you for inspiring me and supplying me with the right tools to continue my journey!