Monday, October 23, 2023

Featured Exhibitor: atelier mamako




Who are you and what do you do?
atelier mamako is a creative studio co-founded by Jacques Elate Joss and Carmen Elate, lifelong partners, educators and artists based in Minneapolis, MN. Jacques is a Cameroon-born DJ, poet and visual artist. Carmen is a book artist and textile designer. atelier mamako started in our home, where we enjoy making art side by side. We make handmade journals, patches, and patchwork home goods with eclectic and colorful pieces of fabric.



Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?
When we were looking for a name, our inspiration was music and language. mamako comes from a play on the word Makossa, which is the name of the Douala people (Cameroon) dance and music. Soul Makossa is a song by the late Cameroonian jazz musician, Manu Dibango. (mama sa! mamako! mako makossa!) We wanted to show our creativity in cutting fabric just like Manu Dibango cut the word makossa. We also speak French and atelier is the French word for studio.


How did you get started in your business?
We recently decided to turn our artistic practice into a business. We've been partners in life and in the arts for 30-plus years and have always used our home as a studio. As educators, we taught in and through the arts in classrooms, museums, and community programs. We started atelier mamako with the idea that we were going to make art that could support our vision of a world where artists collaborate across borders and make a living out of their craft.


What motivates you to create?
We are excited to expand our practice and conversation around textiles, patterns, and designs. We create fabric collages of colorful patchwork. Our patchwork reveals a space of bold and unpredictable design. We want our art to be functional and beautiful-journals, patches, and home goods. The exploration of the materials, as well as designing our fabrics motivates us.



What do your customers love most about your product(s)?
Our customers enjoy the one-of-a-kind products that we make and the uniqueness of each piece. They value the creativity and vibrancy of our patches and journals. Our customers love the juxtaposition and the mix of elements and the cultural conversations that our work projects. They like the sustainability of our upcycled projects and enjoy integrating our work into their own creativity.

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