"Calamarie has surpassed my wildest dreams—and has been driven by the many women who have believed in it and nurtured it. It is these women who wear our pieces with pride and joy who make it all possible and who continue to take me to new and unexpected places." - Catalina Lemaitre, Calamarie Founder
It is most rewarding when a dream, a vision, an idea turns into a reality that exceeds the limitations of our own imagination. Back in 2008, I was traveling around the world as a project manager for the U.S. State Department. It was an exciting and demanding job, but I knew that I had more to give if I could find a way to combine the things I am really passionate about. On a trip to my hometown of Cartagena, Colombia, I was inspired by the crafts that I saw there and returned with a new mission—to support and empower these talented women artisans in Colombia, to preserve traditional crafts, and to bring more art and beauty into the world through the creation of a line of natural and eco-friendly fashion accessories.
I pride myself on developing long-term relationships with artisans, promoting fair trade and social responsibility, and helping to build our artisan’s capacity and support their growth. For most of these women artisans, their craft is their sole income. I believe that ethical businesses can have a tremendous impact on the lives of people around the world--many of us don’t realize that every time we make a purchase we are also making a choice about what kind of world we want to live in, because the things we purchase have a huge impact on the planet and are connected to the real people who make them. My hope is that more people will want to shop consciously and support artisans when they understand their story, when they know a little something about where the item came from and what it means.
I named the company in honor of the indigenous people of Cartagena, Colombia, the Calamarie--to pay homage to the traditional arts, culture, and crafts of those local communities across the country. After meeting artisan Mery at a street market in Bogota, we started to collaborate and developed Calamarie’s signature Orange Peel Collection. This was for me a pivotal moment as a woman and a social entrepreneur when I had to decide what kind of life I wanted for myself and what I wanted to build with my life--it really became a question of finding my purpose and bringing beauty and joy to this world. I now travel to Colombia three times a year to work with dozens of talented artisans for the creation of new designs and to oversee production. The rest of the year, I spend sketching new styles and uses for orange peel and all the other fabulous natural materials we work with, going to trade shows, helping our customers with their re-orders, managing our operations, taking care of my gorgeous toddler Tomas and dreaming about the days when I had free time to go to Yoga and cook a meal from scratch.