Posted on July 14 2015
We live in such a great area. Local artists with so much inspiration. And I am feeling inspired! We recently started carrying Ambatalia products. I have been seriously obsessed ... Have ya noticed?! Molly is so inspiring and her shop is worth the visit! After buying my first Furoshiki I found her Vimeo tutorial and did my own demo for my kids. Ha I really did! It's super fun to use. And makes a really fabulous gift wrap that will impress any domestic diva Remodolista did a Q&A with her (great minds think alike right?!) and dubbed her the "Queen of Green" and I'm feeling it! She was generous enough to give me some of her time in her cute shop and then answer some questions I had. I think it's important to spread the word on the artists and shops we love. Business is what keeps us all going (we so appreciate our awesome customers! Thank you!) and I hope to see another ten years of Knitterly (and Ambatalia) So here is my Q & A with Molly the "Queen of Green":
1. How long have you been Ambatalia? I open the original Ambatalia in 2004 in down town Mill Valley, a fabric store solely focussing on culturally and environmentally sustainable fabric, Featuring Indigo from Japan and Africa, plant dyed wool batting and roving from montana to Windrush farms in petaluma to yarns from Manos Del Uruguay. I had organic cotton wovens from Sally fox and hemp from Romania, China and from the USA. I also sold incredible prints from Japan, liberty of london, indika and Souliado from France and hand loomed silks form Cambodia. I also carried a lot of vintage fabrics and notions form all over the world. I kept the same name as I went into designing textile goods and clothes that work.
2. What does Ambatalia mean? Where did you come up with the name? The Ambatalia woman -- a song from Trinidad is about the mother in the fields harvesting food for her family while the men were out to war. Amba in Sanskrit means mother and to me I simplify it with nurturer and the mother taking care of the planet. My best friend Anna while searching for a name said your store is all about the ambatalia woman. Sometimes we just do what our best friends tell us to do. She knows me better than anyone.
3. You told me you did hair for 20 years prior to changing careers, how did you go from hair to where you are now? Doing hair happened to me and was a wonderful career. I started school during high school and worked in amazing salons in the city and bay area and eventually co-owning a salon in downtown Mill Valley called 13 bernard. I knew that I wasn't doing my passion being a hairdresser even though I thoroughly enjoyed the people I worked with and my customers. I just didn't care so much about hair styling. When I turned forty I decided to express one of my passion by singing in front of all of my friends and family. I practiced 7 songs for a year and sang as a tribute to my father. through that experience I realized that the out come wasn't the important part it was the process and the fact that I over came my fear and did it anyway, that was extremely fulfilling. I then searched for a year to find out what would that be to do My true passion in the world. I came up with sustainable textiles. To me it was purely about the loom, the hand work, the mother working with children around, a place were community gathers and contributes. The beauty, the usefulness of this art and the importance of the peoples health who work in the fields were the cotton was grown was just as important. this idea brought me such joy and excitement for life I haven't been able to stop since.
4. What is your favorite part of having Ambatalia? Finding order in my life through my work which in turn brings me peace, obsessing on designs until their manifested and connecting with people and their ideas.
5. Your fabrics are amazing! Where do you find them? I use only natural fabrics made from linen from the flax plant, hemp and organic cotton/cotton. I have built relationships for many years with my vendors. I choose them for a multitude of reasons and am always searching for the most sustainable fabrics available both from an environment stand point, cultural and quality. I have certain guidelines and also a very specific direction I'm heading in terms of the fabrics I use. I find my fabrics in so many different ways and from different parts of the world including USA, Russia, China, Ireland, India and Turkey. I also use reclaimed fabrics or scrap fabrics from the waste from designers whether its from the cutting floor to the warehouse. There is so much fabric out there unused, its a crime not to use it. I have been working on a plan to feature local fabric hand loomed right here using Sally Fox California cotton. I also am working on using native plants for color inspired by Rebecca burgess, Sasha Duer and Ida Grae.
6. We all love local. It feels good to know the local economy and community are being supported. Are you able to stay local with your products and how they are made? All of my products are made in the San Francisco bay area. I design ambatalia textiles to last, using old fashioned french seems when called for. My designs are simple, usually Japanese inspired and I usually design trying to avoid waste. most of my aprons use the arm cut outs as pockets and things like that. Some patterns are ancient patterns and some are my original designs. Even though I think every thing has been done, there is a lot of room to be authentic.
7. How would you describe your shop? My shop is simple, modern and earthy. I like to use what I have or find for free to build and decorate. I hope people like it. The shelves in my shop are made with braided scrap and old redwood siding from the lumber yard. (This is my favorite thing about Molly's shop. Coolest shelves ever!!)
8. What's your mission statement? Ambatalia hopes to inspire change by offering natural textile goods and clothes that work to support a non-disposable life.
9. You grew up in Mill Valley, (and even love next door to your childhood home?) is it surreal to own a shop in the lumberyard you visited as a kid? To be honest there has been a large part of me that hasn't liked Mill Valley I think it's lacking in diversity in so many ways but have realized its my home and that there are great people here and beauty that is breathtaking. The lumber yard feels like Mill Valley used to feel. Earthy and easy going. Because of the owners Jan and Matt Mathews and who they are, I am in love with the vibe, the inclusiveness, and the over all possibilities. I also am 20 minutes to the most beautiful city in the world with lots of diversity.
11. What are you listening to in your studio? I love music and I would probably have it too loud for most peoples likings. I listen to artist like the goodbye tonyas, Bob Marley, Al green, ricky lee jones, sam smith, john coltrain, Krishna Das, Issa Bagayogo, Gal costa and Mana when peter comes to work with me on Tuesdays.
12. If you had one super power what would it be? I would reorganize how we do things, how we feed people. There is enough food to feed every one on this planet but there are so many people in this world hungry and so much food waste. This applies to wasting all of our resources. Also I wish that people would know that each any every one of us effects each other and all living things. All small things are big deals. 13. Are you working on anything exciting to add to your product line? I'm always working on something exciting, at least for me! I will have a Rebecca Burgess California grown indigo Vat at Ambatalia that will be inspiring on so many levels ( stay tuned) Before people were ever talking about sustainable companies I've always been incredibly inspired by Yvon Chouinard i love that he says its important to break the rules. quality, innovation and simplicity. He is such a big deal.
Thank you Molly, so fun meeting you! Hope you all enjoy reading this and checking out my photos. Happy happy! xx Ash