Sam & Nala creates connections between artisan-entrepreneurs and you, your furry friend and your home. Together, we design and create inviting and unique global handmade goods that highlight your taste for beautiful and spirited design
Do good, do well
We believe in doing good while doing well, so we like to think it goes without saying that we do our best to engage in fair, collaborative and respectful business with our customers at home and artisan partners worldwide. At the same time, weaving and textile crafts have an important place in history and culture…as we see it, it’s time to elevate what’s long been considered “women’s work” to its rightful place as art.
We collaborate with our partners, within communities abroad, to co-create a plan for sustainability and prosperity. With each purchase from our hand-crafted collection, you, the customer, have the opportunity to catalyze the power of our partner artisans to create meaningful change in their communities. How do we achieve this? By generating a fair, sustainable income that empowers our independent partners to not only feed their families, but to help educate their daughters and sons. This promotes an inspiring and prosperous future for themselves, their family and community.
Each one of our finds has its own story to tell. As part of our commitment to be creative collaborators with our artists and customers, we’re sharing a bit about each product’s background and history.
Along with product descriptions, we’ll highlight the nature of the medium, whether it’s heirloom or a newly-designed pattern weaving, as well as our artist-partner arrangement.
Since her first international trip at 14 years old, clad in pink sweatpants and white Esprit sweatshirt, Jen Melton has never stopped moving, nor has she lost her zeal for travel. While other kids were partying in college and buying new cars, she saved lifeguarding money for a summer trip to England with her best friend. Fancy cars and big televisions are an easy trade for congested airports, darkened train stations, overnight buses, and the soul-filling conversations along the way.
Six years ago Jen started a journey of a different sort. Having sold a business, sold a home and gotten divorced, she was looking for solid ground. A newly-single mom, Jen moved forward: She built a new house with her dad’s help as a fresh start for her and her daughters. Jen’s care and intention went into selecting casual, comfortable and beautiful items to create a home that welcomed all.
Life adjusted to these changes and continued to provide Jen with opportunities to travel. On Christmas in 2018, she found herself alone in Guatemala. On a whim, Jen journeyed into the highlands. Using broken Spanish, she connected with strong, eloquent and talented weavers and craftswomen. Transfixed by the color and designs in the weavings, she learned that each huipil, corte and faja (traditional blouse, skirt and belt) told the story of the woman who hand wove it.
Back in her cozy hotel room in Panajachel, Jen reflected on a lifelong dream to combine her love for entrepreneurship and her desire to contribute to women in developing countries by providing opportunities to feed and educate their children. Her vision: To be mindful in her interactions with makers and pay fair prices to curate a collection of high quality and beautiful items found in her travels. She would share these finds not only with her close friends but also introduce these goods into chic and playful homes across the globe. Her thoughts wandered to the sad little corner of her house with its cheap, flat dog bed, and Jen knew just the place to start. She’d been so meticulous and intentional about selecting details for the rest of her house, but fell short when it came to creating the cozy corner her dogs deserved. Her first product would be high quality, comfy and decorative dog beds, giving the heirloom weavings she’d encountered a second life in homes all over the world.
Jen believes that where non-profits’ reach ends, local entrepreneurship can fill-in and flourish to truly change individuals, families and communities. Her dream was suddenly concrete: Sam & Nala was the starting place for change.
When not enjoying the outdoors and hiking with her dogs, Tiller and Elsa, Jen enjoys exploring unconventional travel locations...unconventionally. Jen remains focused on investing in mutual respect among suppliers, vendors and customers, ensuring that a rising tide raises all ships.
These handmade canvas totes were thoughtfully created for Sam & Nala by the women of Creamos in Guatemala City, using premium upcycled denim from the New Denim Project. Each bag is printed with words we feel are worth sharing.
Bag dimensions-Width- 17 ½”
Height- 16 ½”
Bottom Gusset- 5 ½”
Handle- Hangs 16 ½” from shoulder to top of bag
Overall handle length- 33”
Aside from a fun saying, each bag has a story and requires various skill sets for its construction before it lands in your hands.
To begin this project, we teamed up with the Guatemalan textile group, The New Denim Project, to use their premium upcycled denim from pre-consumer scraps.
Once the material arrives at Creamos, the pattern is made. Fabric is marked and the Cutting Team cuts the necessary fabric. Next, a seamstress on the Sewing Team makes the straps while another makes the body of the tote. A third seamstress sews the straps onto the bag. After that, the bag takes a trip across the room to the screenprinting area where another group of women work their magic. The bag then goes to “Mama Celia,” who is in charge of Quality Control.
When Jen visited Creamos for the first time she was in awe. The location shares a property line with the Guatemala City garbage dump and is run by women with amazing stories of strength and resilience. Creamos’ services foster self-esteem, wellness, leadership and financial independence for women who have historically relied on collecting, recycling, reusing and reselling items scavenged in the garbage dump to make a living.
Since its inception, Creamos' primary goal has been to provide an alternative form of income, resulting in a safer and healthier family environment. Today, Creamos creates opportunities for dignified employment, offers emotional support services, and promotes a community of ongoing education. Creamos continues to open doors for new participants while continuing to support and nurture the 150 active participants in our organization. The women and mothers have become leaders and change-agents within their community and families.