ARTIST INTERVIEW: Marissa Maximo of Anaak
Anaak derives its name from the Filipino dialect Tagalog’s word for “child.” It is a term of endearment bestowed upon founder and designer Marissa Maximo by her mother. It is also perfectly evocative of the feeling her line exudes — just like a child, joyfully open, unabashedly carefree and with a permanent sense of wide-eyed wonder.
Inspired by the inherent ease and approachability of bohème dressing, Anaak is a collection of artfully relaxed pieces developed with a contemporary and streamlined silhouette. While modern in design, Anaak is made using traditional processes in the most sustainable way. Spending years scouring the globe for the purest materials and the highest quality craftsmanship, and referencing the rich cultural history of cherished destinations, they aim to mindfully produce clothing that imbues a stylish ease.
We spoke to Marissa about her creative journey.
Describe the path that led you to the work you do now. Did you take any big risks to get where you are?
I always dreamt of having my own line, but never thought it would actually happen. For over 15 years, I was the design director for large fashion retailers and thought that was my path for the long haul. But it wasn’t until our thoughts and ideas no longer aligned and found myself feeling like a lone wolf, that I decided to pursue a path truer to who I wanted to be as a person, professionally and personally. Leaving behind a highly ranked position, great salary and job security, I took all my savings to launch Anaak. Essentially risking it all for something I truly believed in and where I could help others.
What is the first memory you have of encountering art or the artistic process?
My very first memory was when I was 5 years old. My parents snuck into my bedroom the night of Christmas Eve and placed an easel and drawing set by my bed. I couldn’t wait to wake up in the morning. On Christmas Day, I ran out into the snowy front lawn to set up my easel, pad of newsprint paper and drew the street, hills and houses in front. I’ve never stopped since.
Do you have a daily routine? What is it like?
My daily working routine is banal and grounding. The fashion industry calendar is very fast and can be chaotic and stressful. Traveling for half of the year to work on the collections and visit artisans throughout the world means that I strive to make my time working at home structured – slow and steady. I wake up 6am every morning to email or call my overseas vendors in India, Mongolia and Bolivia to discuss product development and production. Afterwards, I work throughout the day on administrative tasks, business development and design, wrapping up around 4PM. Then, yoga. It is my daily necessity for cleansing off the day. After yoga, I abstain from social media, email and work to fully leave my day behind.
How does practicing your art or craft impact your life or way of thinking?
Practicing my craft gives me direction, a path and way of life. It is an editing filter. It’s no longer about just making things and selling massive quantities like previous work, but it is much more personal. It is my livelihood. I have to believe in what I make and put it out in the world. I choose who I work with and how I want to work with people. I feel the artisans I collaborate with are an immense inspiration and reminder of how rich life can be with very little.
How do you believe your craft has the power to influence the world outside of the artistic community? Is art important in our current moment of conflict and upheaval?
I believe my work with Anaak can raise awareness of social injustices, and help empower women in rural areas throughout the world by providing education, job training and employment. I can utilize my talents, skills and professional experience to help others in a direct way. Anaak recently launched a fundraiser to further develop and support this work – www.gofundme.com/anaak.
Why is it important to you to show and share your work to a larger community?
Sharing my work to a larger community really helps to spread the word and build awareness of Anaak’s mission. Our artisans are remotely located and their skills and traditional textile works are rarely seen outside their village. They rely upon me to share their work with the world at large. The support of the community helps create more work for our women artisans, and it also provides emotional and spiritual support for the work. In being a small company, I most often work on my own and having an opportunity like Echo Park Craft Fair enables me to share with like-minded artists and ultimately grow.
What do you hope to share with those who purchase your art and bring intimately into their lives?
My hope is to share the story, love and work that went into each piece of clothing. From how the fibers were dyed, fabric handwoven or knit, to the stitch and trim details. It’s about sharing the journey the garment has travelled to arrive in their hands. A garment that is timeless, and meant to bring them joy. Make them feel beautiful, and also remind them that they have done a beautiful thing buying and supporting the work of our artisans.