Hi, I’m Hannah. I came to Oaxaca, Mexico five years ago to work with indigenous women through a microfinance and sustainable tourism non-profit called Fundación En Vía. My passion for artisan goods, slow living, women’s empowerment, Oaxaca’s incredible biodiversity, food culture, and (let’s face it!), mezcal, has brought me back again and again.
Over the last four years, I’ve gotten to dive deep into Zapotec textiles and e-commerce through my role as Creative + Marketing Director with the fair trade brand, MZ. Through this experience — and the time I spent living in Oaxaca and connecting with the local indigenous community — my interest in artisan goods became my passion. Not only for their incredible beauty, but for their ability to improve the financial standing of the maker and connect a consumer to a culture they may otherwise never know. Witnessing firsthand the way commerce can be a positive force for change has forever changed the way I shop, and through the creation of Miha I hope to inspire others to do the same.
This winter I lived in Oaxaca City and spent the weekends exploring the different regions of Oaxaca State and inevitably the artisanal craft they have honed in that area over centuries. From weaving with wool, cotton or palm, throwing pottery, harvesting copal for incense, or hand-dipping beeswax candles ... the variety and beauty of the artisan traditions of this region are breathtaking.
Photo by Soraya Matos
I began creating a collection of goods purchased directly from these artisans. For most products, I had the honor of visiting the maker in their home or workshop and learning about the handmade process. I always pay the price they ask for, trusting in their ability to know how much their work and materials are worth; I don’t haggle or cut deals. It's my hope that through sharing their work with others, I'll be able to continue purchasing from them, offering more sustainable income over the long term.
As often as possible, I'll share the people and the process behind each product, ultimately connecting the end consumer with the maker and their materials. It seems clear to me that the disconnect between the average American and the producer of the goods they purchase has led to widespread environmental and human rights abuses. I believe that being informed about who grew your food or made your clothes will inevitably lead to a more conscious consumer culture, in which more individuals will understand the opportunity for activism that shopping creates.
In addition to working directly with artisans, I enjoy collaborating with Mexican and international designers who work with local artisans to develop a product lines that offer a fresh take on artisanal craft. Infusing traditional techniques with an outside eye results in unique modern designs that also honor their heritage. All the designers or brands that Miha partners with have transparent production practices and healthy relationships with the artisans they work with.
Having curated a collection of beautiful, functional goods centered around an aesthetic featuring natural fibers and desert pastels - and a value system based on ethical production practices - I named the project Miha.
The word Miha comes from the Spanish "mija." Mi + hija literally means my daughter but is commonly used as a term of endearment. The unique spelling is meant to personalize a common term, while retaining the sweet sound of calling out to a loved one.
The Miha logo was created by London-based graphic designer Lauren Coutts. The brand graphic of the agave and moon was brought to life by Vancouver, Canada-based fashion designer and illustrator Daynah Afton Notting. The agave symbolizes Oaxaca, and the moon hovering lovingly around it is in homage to the feminine nature of the brand. Miha works primarily with female designers and artisans and seeks to be inclusive to all genders, ethnicities, ages and nationalities.
Having returned to my beloved home in Portland, Oregon, Miha is a platform built with the intention of sharing all the things I love about Oaxaca with folks in the US and beyond! From handmade goods to the stories behind them, I aim to amplify Oaxacan culture and make its beauty more accessible to all.