After a couple of post-university years roaming the planet, the young British couple, Simon Whitehead and Georgie Hopkins came back to their quiet hometown region in Southwest England. There, they serendipitously found themselves in business selling samples and overstock furniture and textiles. “We used to fill the car with products and drive around and sell them in market stalls,” Simon says, with a smile in his voice as he reminisces. Today, the entrepreneurial couple, co-founders of the furniture and rug purveyor, Myakka, says that, even back then, social justice principles were important to them. Today, that’s evident by the fact that about 93% of their products are sourced with those principles in mind. “Being part of GoodWeave,” Simon says, “adds authenticity to our statement of our ethical philosophy.”
Myakka’s jute, cotton and wool rugs, mostly kilims, offer vibrant, bright designs with both a sensibility and names that evoke exotic travel and an aesthetic of global fusion. There is the wool and cotton, indigo blue “Zanzibar”, reminiscent of a night sky over the Indian Ocean. The cotton “Baku Diamond Chindi” rug in teal, red and orange evokes a sunset on the Caspian Sea. Simon points to the hand tufted “Casablanca Berber Rug”, with its riff on traditional Berber patterns as a family favorite. “I love the twist of color on this traditional Moroccan style patterned rug,” Simon says. One of the couple’s other favorite styles is the hand-braided “Rainbow Braided Round Rug,” made of cotton fabric remnants and jute. “There is something really cheerful about those rugs. They are so vibrant!” And, he adds with obvious pride, that one of them even made its stage debut in a production of Beowulf.
Myakka’s rugs are buoyant, colourful and joyous. Simon and Georgie want that sense of joy transmitted to the craftspeople that make the rugs and the furniture products they also sell. To that end, Simon and Georgie have been involved for years with fair trade organizations for the furniture segment of their business, submitting themselves to an audit for ethical accreditation. The couple is also excited to be working on a tree plantation project with local farmers in India. “The trees provide shade and shelter for their crops and the livestock.”
The creation of beautiful products and a kind global community is a central belief for the couple. “We want to assist and help the craftspeople. Fair trade to us IS trade. GoodWeave has it right!”