When friends + photographers Forrest Aguar and Michelle Norris came to join our Oaxaca trip last November, they brought with them a collection of flowy hand-dyed dresses to photograph. Following the Thread Caravan trip, the three of us traveled around to other parts of the Oaxaca state, dresses in tow. 

We rented a car and drove on a super sketchy road, making our way to the coast. The warm, white sand beaches provided the perfect backdrop for photographing the dresses. Part of the Maridadi Trading collection, the dresses are all hand-dyed by Atlanta-based and self-taught designer Vena Kim. 

Maridadi is hands-down part of the slow fashion movement. We caught up with Vena to hear about her travels, inspiration, and creative process.

1. When did you start Maridadi Trading? 

There was never an official start date, but I'd say somewhere around 2007.

2. What inspired you to start Maridadi Trading? 

I feel inspired by a lot of things, but what inspired me to start this business initially were my travels and adventures throughout my adolescent and young adult life. 

3. How do you get inspired for your creations? 

I am greatly inspired by my travels around the world, but I am also inspired by the everyday and mundane...everything in between -- even food! I spend a lot of time daydreaming about deserted islands and tropical getaways, so that is clearly reflected in my aesthetic.

4. What kind of dyes do you use? 

I use a wide range of dyes. Sometimes synthetic and other times natural dyes -- it just depends on my mood. However, my very favorite is working with indigo, even though it can be difficult to work with at times. 

5. Which dyeing techniques do you use? 

I love to dip dye and tie dye 


6. What sort of fabrics do you normally use? 

I normally use silk and cotton, but lately I have also gravitated towards other natural fabrics such as rayon and wool. 

7. How do you see Maridadi growing in the future? 

I love the fact that my pieces are all one-of-a-kind and completely handmade. I would consider my company a part of the "slow fashion" movement and would love for the products to reach a wider audience around the country and world who understand and really appreciate the uniqueness and handiwork of the product.


8. Where can we purchase your creations? 

I am getting ready to launch my website, which I'm really excited about. People will be able to purchase there. In the meantime you can email me at vena@maridaditrading.com or reach me via Instagram.   

9. Where is your favorite place to travel for textile inspiration? 

My favorite place to travel for textile inspiration is west Africa. Countries like Morocco and Mali inspire me endlessly. 


10. Where are some of your favorite places to travel in general? 

I love Southeast Asia for its exotic adventures, but if I'm looking for a getaway closer to Atlanta, Mexico always hits all the right spots with beautiful landscapes and great food.

11. Do you have your next trip planned?

I am dying to go on a trip to Central America with Thread Caravan in the near future. :)

[photos by Forrest Aguar]

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