Mar y Sol Bags: Handmade, Fair Trade Crochet Products

I love fair trade crochet, which refers to crochet that is done by artisans who are treated fairly and given a living wage so that they can use their creative skills to earn money.

As you may know, crochet cannot be done by machine, so any crochet item we buy was made by hand by someone somewhere in the world. 

The crafters who make crochet products that are sold in stores are sometimes exploited and paid very little for their work. That’s why I am so excited when I can find fair trade brands like Mar y Sol that sell crochet products.

About Mar y Sol

Mar y Sol was founded by Laurel Brandstetter and designer Elizabeth Randlett. It launched in 2003 when Laurel acted on a dream to work with “artisan groups who had a vision of making their products available in the global marketplace”.

She traveled to Madagascar, met with dozens of artisans, and launched the brand. 

A Positive Impact on Artisans and the Community

Mar Y Sol sets out to be a positive force in Madagascar and the world in several ways. The products are all handmade by artisans in Madagascar who are paid fairly for their work, allowing them to support their families and communities. 

In an interview with Mood of Living, Laurel Brandstetter explained that Mar y Sol doesn’t see its artisans as merely a labor force. They work with them as partners for the entire process and are always looking for ways to positively impact the community. 

Environmental Impact

Mar y Sol accessories use natural, sustainable materials including raffia, sisal, and seagrass. The items are dyed with azo-free dyes, and some are dyed with dried tea leaves. 

Mar y Sol Crochet Bags

The brand is rich in crochet bags. Here are some of my favorites.

I think that this bag is a perfect beach bag, with an open weave to prevent sand from staying trapped inside. The handles are made of leather that is tanned by hand in Madagascar by local artisans, just like the other components of the bag.

Mar y Sol Crochet Bag
Photo Credit:

This clutch shown on the Mar y Sol Instagram page comes in several colors. The rows of different stitches on the flap highlight how visually interesting crocheted pieces can be. I like the contrast between the criss-cross stitches and the smaller parallel stitches. 

There were several elements that drew me to this crossbody bag. The triangular stitches make such a beautiful pattern and I can appreciate how much work the artisan put into creating it. 

I also love the leather crossbody strap and drawstring with the tassels at the end of the drawstring. All of the little details in this bag took a lot of work and craftsmanship. 

Mar y Sol Crochet Hats

The brand also sells handcrafted raffia crochet hats in various shapes and colors.

I love the open weave style of the hat shown below on Mar y Sol’s Instagram. It looks light and summery.

As much as I enjoy the natural color of the raffia in many of Mar y Sol’s products, the dove color of this hat compliments the cowboy style well. This hat is made from crocheted raffia and the band is braided raffia.  

Mar y Sol Sustainable Fashion

Many of the products offered by Mar y Sol are made of crocheted raffia, but they do sell some woven products and other handcrafted items. 

Fast fashion is common in our society, and many fashion items are made quickly and cheaply by machines. 

Crocheted items can’t be made by a machine, which is why it’s important to make sure the artisans who handcraft them receive a fair wage. 

Mar y Sol offers artisans in Madagascar the opportunity to support their families while preserving their traditional crafts. 

Kelsey Mlnarik

Kelsey has been a crafter since childhood and enjoys crochet, sewing, and any craft she can make with her children. She loves learning new techniques and sharing what she learns along the way. Kelsey someday hopes to be someone's crafty grandmother, crocheting afghans and drinking entire pots of coffee.

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