"Listen to yourself and hear what it is that you really want because it may surprise you. I thought I wanted certain things in my career, but the reality did not match up to what I had expected or wanted of my life. In some ways, I am living a very different life than I set out to, but it's the life I dreamed of."
Marissa Maximo studied painting and textile design before becoming a director of apparel textiles. She has worked as a brand strategist, leading print and color direction and curating artist collaborations and pop-up shops for leading retailers. A solo trip to a secluded corner of India's southern coast afforded her the opportunity to slow down and start thinking about a way to weave her travels and love for artisans into a more tangible and intimate story. And so, Anaak was born: A collection of clean, beautifully feminine pieces made in the most simple, direct and ethical way. Their mission is to empower makers and preserve ancient textile techniques, creating ongoing partnerships with local artisans in India, Bolivia and beyond.
For years, I wanted to start my own line, but I always kept that wish tucked away like a dream. I worked for many years in the fashion industry doing textile and pattern creation and then curating special brand partnerships. I enjoyed my travels and was inspired by my work, but it wasn't until my 40th birthday, while on a solo trip to a secluded corner of India’s coast, that that I had an epiphany: what did it all mean to me? What did I want to do with my life? I had this passion and love for what I do, but I also hankered for it to feel more personal and positively impact lives.
A year later, I launched Anaak.
Listen to yourself and hear what it is that you really want because it may surprise you. I thought I wanted certain things in my career, but the reality did not match up to what I had expected or wanted of my life. In some ways, I am living a very different life than I set out to, but it’s the life I dreamed of.
I have something inside me that pushes forward—sometimes I can’t physically keep up with it! I suppose it’s the creative force because it isn't the external circumstances or rewards that keep me going. Anyone call tell you, fashion is a super tough business and you really have to want it to make it work, let alone survive. You need something more to drive and propel you forward.
Simple, awe-inspiring places off the beaten path speak to me: a secluded beach, remote mountain, desert or forest. I like being stripped of the noise, distractions and anticipation of what’s next. For me, stillness, nothingness and nature enable my thoughts and feelings to rise to the surface, so I can feel more intimate with them.
Traveling 15,000 feet to the Highlands of Bolivia, sourcing natural alpaca fiber and working with a village of hand-knitters and weavers.
I want to do more of what I am doing, just on a larger scale. This photograph shows our handwoven organic cotton fabric be lovingly created. We work through a partnership with a cooperative of women artisans in Central India.
I’d love to travel to more countries in order to meet and work with more artisans. They inspire me endlessly. To be able to positively impact more lives would be an honor.
Another goal is to expand Anaak’s product assortment to include home and lifestyle. I created a custom surfboard last year and it gave me the urge to create other interesting objects. Even though I travel a lot, my home is my sanctuary.
All images used with permission of Marissa Maximo.