Maker Monday: An Aspire Exclusive Interview With Rebecca Haskins

Women supporting women, sourcing ecological materials, and respecting different cultural techniques are the three powerful ingredients that make up NOMA Collective. Founded by Rebecca Haskins and fueled by her love for design, NOMA Collective provides easy access to sustainable and handmade home accessories, while also supporting female artisans around the world, all spawning from her work with a small artisan community in Guatemala. From hand-woven hampers to luscious blankets, NOMA Collective shares products that celebrate culture and community. Introducing this week’s Maker Monday, Rebecca Haskins, Founder and Creative Director of NOMA Collective.

NOMA Collective partnered with female artisans in Guatemala this year where they created unique masks on backstrap looms.

Andrew Joseph: What is something you hope to see trending in design in the future?
People seeing themselves as curators rather than consumers. Shopping with their values in mind and with companies who are transparent in their business practices. This relates to environmental best practices but also to sourcing and labor. Investing in quality pieces that they can keep for a lifetime, and not just quality in terms of the products but also in terms of the life of the person who makes them.

Andrew: What would you like remembered about you?
That I was kind; that I lived my life to the fullest and that I made a positive impact on people’s lives.

Andrew: What’s something you always travel with?
My headphones! Music speaks to me. It lifts me up and I can’t go anywhere without them.

Andrew: Are you a good cook? If so, what’s your specialty?
I love cooking British comfort foods like bangers and mash and cottage pie. My husband really misses English food so it makes him happy! I can’t bake to save my life though.

Andrew: Do you get your eight hours a night? – what is your schedule like?
I am an early riser, usually at 6 am. I walk my Golden Retriever then I’m at my desk from 8 am. I wear many different hats so my day could consist of designing, liaising with my artisan partners, planning collection launches, marketing, managing my social media, managing finances, updating my website — the list is endless. I love that every day is so different!

Collectively sitting above are the Sofia Hampers from Senegal. These intricately designed pieces were hand woven by female craftspeople using strips of recycled prayer mats.

Andrew: Who is your dream date (alive or dead) and what would you do?
Frida Kahlo. She was such a brilliant woman and a true inspiration. I would have her take me around the neighborhood in Mexico City where she grew up, Coyoacan, and tell me about her childhood, her life and show me all the places she used to go.

Andrew: What are you most proud of?
When the pandemic hit back in early 2020, the income stream for the women’s weaving cooperative we work with in San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala, dried up overnight. The government had shut its borders to tourists and their orders for textiles ground to a halt. I immediately started working with them to make masks, it was clear to me that this would be a way of bringing them much-needed income during these difficult times while supplying the world with something that all of a sudden everybody needed.

I ran a campaign where all the proceeds from the sales of the masks would go directly to the owner of the cooperative, Rosa, for her to use to support her community. Rosa is a pillar in her community and with the money we raised she would go and buy food and hygiene supplies for the women and their families. In the end, we raised over $5,000 which goes a long way in Guatemala. We were also able to donate many of Rosa’s masks to a charity here in California that supports disadvantaged women.

Andrew: Are you a pet person? Why either way? Dogs or cats?
I am 1000% a dog person. My husband likes cats but (thankfully) I am allergic to them so I managed to persuade him to let me get a dog (it took a year) and now our dog is the apple of his eye– and I think he prefers her to me.

Hanging along the wall are handwoven versatile blankets that were made by a family-run cooperative in Mitla, Mexico. They are 100% cotton dyed with sustainable, non-toxic colors.

Andrew: How would you define your work in three words?
Rewarding, versatile, meaningful.

Andrew: How do you define beauty?
I want my products to look beautiful in people’s homes, but I also want my customers to be able to understand the beauty that is found in the stories of strength and hope from the artisans that make our products. They weave their life stories into every single thread, to me, the passion and pride in their work is truly beautiful.

Andrew: Favorite tea to decompress, and in what mug?
English breakfast tea in a handmade mug I purchased from an artisan market in Oaxaca.

Andrew: What do you find yourself daydreaming about most these days?
Being able to travel again.

Andrew: What’s your go-to playlist for dancing alone in your living room?
I make my own NOMA Studio playlists and right now I am loving Kurangabin and DRAMA.

The finishing touch of this bedding is the long lumbar pillow situated at the front. This intricate pillow was woven together by Mayan women on pedal looms in the mountains of Chiapas in Southern Mexico.

Andrew: What are some creative ways that you have kept yourself busy during quarantine?
When quarantine first hit, my friends and I started having weekly zoom parties every Friday night. There was a different dress-up theme each week and we would play games and my friend would DJ. I never knew it was possible to have so much fun virtually!

Andrew: Where will be the first place you will travel to after COVID-19?
Mexico and Guatemala to visit my artisan partners. It has been a challenge not to be able to go down there and having had to create new collections virtually, but I also recognize how lucky we are these days to have the technology to be able to communicate so well virtually. Oh and also, back to the UK to see my family!

Andrew: Who/what was your biggest supporter or motivator in these unsettling times?
The artisans I work with are my biggest motivator. The pandemic has hit their communities really hard. With tourism drying up in the countries I partner with like Mexico and Guatemala, and orders for textiles grinding to a halt, they have struggled more than ever. There have also been restrictions on travel between communities and villages and so it has been hard to move goods around the counties. For one of the weaving cooperatives I work with in Guatemala, they lost their income almost overnight. I know how important and significant the orders they get from NOMA are and this is what motivates me every single day.

Photography by Charlotte Lea.

About The Maker | NOMA Collective is committed to socially responsible and sustainable home furnishings. Founder and Creative Director Rebecca Haskins of NOMA Collective, partners with artisans from around the world, blending today’s modern style with their time-tested techniques, offering a selection of decor items (including pillows, rugs, blankets, napkins and more) that are consciously designed, ethically sourced, travel inspired, and stylish yet simple.

Inspired by the intersection of the “nomad,” the carefree wanderer who sees their soul reflected in our “collective”, and a selection of artisans, designers and dreamers who rally together from across continents to craft our collections, each NOMA piece celebrates the story behind the product — the people, the culture and the community.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for aspire design and home magazine. See more of his work here.

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