Mazurca – Design Inspired by Nature

You might know that we love people, handcraft and nature. And this is why we probably came across Mazurca. Its creator and designer, Sara, is a Biologist and of course passionate about nature. She founded the brand in 2014 by chance. She knew that the laboratory was not where she wanted to spend her working days. So she quit and went (first without a plan) on a new adventure. Mazurca was born, a slow-fashion brand dedicated to ethical and sustainable buying. Sara values locally produced raw material, mainly linen, and works towards developing fully traceable products. The fabrics are produced in Portugal and hand printed with hand carved linoleum stamps and hand made stencils.

We talked with Sara about her journey and the one of Mazurca and we fell in love with the brand and its products even more.

This is a must-read for everyone seeking a new purpose and true compassion in daily work life. Thank you for inspiring us, Sara!

Where do you come from and where do you live now? I was born and raised in Lisbon. I always lived here, but for the last few years the countryside has been calling me. And I listen! Why did you study Biology? As a child, I would talk to plants and bugs. When growing up, I always spent part of my holidays working as a volunteer at the Lisbon Zoo at the reptile house and this had a big impact on my ideas for the future. I was always fascinated by the nature world and I was really interested in understanding how nature works. At the university I fell in love with genetics and evolution, a field that I later pursued. Why did you choose to change from the laboratory to the creative field of handcraft? What was your motivation? To be completely honest, when I quit my laboratory studies and my pHD, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. I just knew that I wasn't happy with that career and that I needed a dramatic change in my life. At the time, I loved to knit (I still do) and so I dedicated a lot of my time learning as much as I could about textile arts. I felt really happy and comfortable while trying out different things and so it made sense to me to invest in learning this more seriously. I took a course in sewing and pattern making which gave me the tools to be more confident in my experiments. When I first tried to hand print fabric, I thought: "This is my thing! I love it". I never had any training in arts, it was science all my life, and so I really enjoyed the fact that I was "allowed" to make mistakes. I guess that both curiosity and freedom were a real motivation. How did you come up with the idea of of a brand called Mazurca? I was really investing a lot of time in exploring this new world of textiles and so the idea of creating a business didn't take long to arrive. Mazurca is a dance, that I don´t do. Although I love to dance, specially the contemporary style. Pina Bausch is one of the figures I admire the most and she has this piece inspired in Lisbon and Cabo Verde called "Mazurca Fogo". This piece has these two minutes that are absolutely perfect and are always in my mind. Tell us about your brand, the production and products. Mazurca started as a laboratory of my creative bursts but it evolved for a more serious bag brand. We are very concerned about ethical and sustainable buying and so Mazurca works with a social and ecological responsibility. We value locally produced raw material, and work towards developing fully traceable products. All the fabrics we use are produced in Portugal and in the case of the home made linen, we can fully trace, and closely follow its production from seed to cloth. Our project helps to preserve the traditional handcraft of linen production in Portugal. This tradition is almost lost in our country and very few families still produce it with high quality, from seed to cloth.

Our inspiration is clearly the diversity of the natural world or as Charles Darwin elegantly said : "…endless forms most beautiful…". Our drawings are original but not rigorous or scientific. For each bug or leave, we hand carve a linoleum block. We draw what we see in nature or in books and we combine all these forms to give rise to more complex patterns. In a way we like to think we are hand printing an ecosystem. We screen or block print each of our bags by hand using water-based eco-friendly textile inks. As we produce in very small quantities, each bag is cut, sewn and finished individually.

Which was the biggest challenge when changing your work field? To be taken seriously. How do you get inspired? Long walks are always enriching. It takes me a while to be confident about an idea, so I always share it with friends and family, and many times they are part of the creative process. I am very lucky to be surrounded by amazing people. Which is your secret place of happiness in Lisboa? Well it's secret, but I can share that I go for very long walks in the Monsanto woods.