Cool Businesses

Makimono’s unique scarves sustain artisan weavers in India

Ako Morabia wearing a Makimono scarf imported from India. Photo by Teri Vershel.

When Ako Morabia moved to India with her husband and children, she looked at it as a fantastic opportunity to explore a vast and unknown culture, even with a three year old in tow. “India is so big, and each region is completely different,” Ako explained. “During the four years our family lived in India, we spent every school holiday traveling to a new area to experience the language, climate and people.”

Exploring India’s artisan textile traditions

Ako with a weaver in India. Photo by Ako Morabia

During these trips, Ako became fascinated by the local weavers who produced different textiles in every area they visited. “My mom is a knitter and sewer and I grew up surrounded by yarn and fabric,” Ako said. “I love the tradition of creating things by hand, and I found a rich array of woven and hand-made fabrics everywhere we went in India.”

A move to Palo Alto brings a business idea: Makimono

When Ako and her family relocated to Palo Alto in 2014, she was inspired to find a way to support the local weavers she met in India by importing their handiwork to the United States. “In many small communities in India, the craft of hand weaving is dying because of the rise of factory looms,” she said. “I want to help support indigenous fabric makers by giving them a new market in America that can keep their work going.”

Every Makimono scarf tells a story

A native of Tokyo, Ako named her company Makimono, which loosely translates to ‘wrapped things’ in Japanese, and traveled back to India to bring scarves to the United States. Each scarf comes with a card that includes the weaver’s name and where the scarf was made. “It can take up to 10 people to make one of the scarves I sell through Makimono,” Ako said. “The hand made fabrics are hand- loomed and many are made of natural from locally-grown plants like pomegranate, lilac and indigo.”

Makimoto scarves are hand woven with natural dyes. Photo by Teri Vershel.

The results are both beautiful and practical- lovely to hold and touch, but also an ideal protection against the Bay Area’s often changing weather. Makimono’s scarves make a perfect travel layer or wrap for Palo Alto’s chilly mornings.

Sustaining artisan weavers to continue their craft

Ako traveled to India this past summer to visit the weavers and find more beautiful scarves for Makimono’s collection. “The weavers are both men and women, and they are proud of the handiwork they create,” Ako said. “They are so unassuming about the beautiful things they make, and humble about the extraordinary amount of work that goes into each scarf. Through Makimono, we hope we can help India’s local weavers continue their artisan tradition rather than leaving the small villages to work in a factory.”

photo by Teri Vershel.

How to buy Makimono scarves

Makimono scarves are available for sale online and through select trunk shows.

photo by Teri Vershel

About the author

Victoria Thorp

Victoria Thorp

Victoria is the founder and editor of Palo Alto Pulse and has lived in Palo Alto since 2007. Victoria's diverse professional background includes working as the editor of GreatSchools.org , as a senior writer for KIPP and Teach for America, and as a radio producer for City Visions on KALW (91.7FM San Francisco). She is a graduate of Leadership Palo Alto and a member of the Palo Alto Partners in Education Advisory Board.

She has a BA in English from Tufts University and Masters in Education and Secondary Teaching Credential in English from UCLA.