Co-founders Ana Neto and Daniela Marques have been friends for over 20 years despite being self-described “polar opposites,” but one thing they for sure have in common is a passion for fashion ― especially well-made leather bags.
The two began the Maria Maleta mission with a simple purpose: to create bags that capture the diverse multitudes of every individual.
They believe that every person has two sides, and seek to create bags that not only reflect versatility but last a lifetime of adapting to every situation with a 100% sustainable process. Sign us up for fire bags with no guilt attached 🤞🏼.
We talked with the co-founders about everything from their lasting bond, how they apply their differences to their design, and their constant commitment to waste-free creation. Scroll down and get ready for your new everyday bag.
1. Maria Maleta began with such a sentimental concept of two people who were soulmate-type friends despite their differences. How does the brand aim to capture that special dynamic?
We want to pass this dynamic through our bags. One woman, one bag, two sides to show ― different sides with different textures that create a beautiful combination, as our friendship.
Different personalities can be a perfect match, we want to demonstrate that difference and diversity are a beautiful combination and can create amazing things, like friendships and/or bags for life.
2. Your products are all about duality - reversible bags that capture both urban life & nature, form & function, etc. What does this concept of balance mean to you personally?
Balance is the key to many things in life. Nowadays, we live surrounded by a lot of information, white noise in social media, where everything happens very fast. Sometimes, it seems that we are missing something and even missing ourselves. For us, there has to be a balance between the time we are living in and the things that are important to us.
Every person has their own needs and balance. With our bags, we want to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve this type of balance.
3. Can you tell us a little about the work process between you two, and how both your personalities show through in the result?
We have been best friends since forever, so the work process is developed with a lot of laughs and discussions. Normally, we like different shapes or colors, and we have to argue until we have a final piece that both of us like. Instead of trying to annul the creative process of the other, we always try to add something new to the ongoing ideas.
Daniela is more rational and minimalist, and Ana is a more sentimental “dreamer.” So, we try to put both personalities in this creative process.
4. Leather is such a timeless material, it lasts for lifetimes and has been embraced by creators since the beginning of time. What is it about handmade leatherwork that has captured passion for centuries?
It’s the beauty of being natural. Leather is a natural material that changes with time, just like us.
You can replace a lot of things in the world, but you cannot replicate the beauty of something natural. Leather is something unique that can ensure a unique piece of art.
5. When founding the brand, you were inspired by classic leather Chelsea boots. What do you think about leather's capability to make iconic pieces like this as significant as they are - to the point where they can inspire a whole creative brand like yours?
We felt inspired by the elastic in Chelsea boots and then we created our clutch. When the products are well made, with quality and good design, you easily become inspired.
This doesn’t happen just with leather products, you have a lot of iconic items that will stay in design industry history forever. We believe that the key is to create products with a purpose and passion. Do not create something just because everyone is doing it.
6. Maria Maleta made its TV debut on HBO’s Apparition. Do you guys plan to continue this kind of journey into other creative fields like television? What do you think the impact on the brand is?
The HBO Apparition experience was a very unexpected thing that happened to us. We received an email asking if we wanted to be a part of the project, we were very excited about it and said “of course.”
It’s very meaningful for us when someone recognizes our work and effort. It is important to receive this type of feedback because these are the kind of things that motivate us and make us go further. For us, as a brand, it’s very important to feel and understand that we are doing our job well. I think the impact is always positive as it gives more credibility to the project.
7. We gotta know the answer to this one: what is your favorite place & occasion for each of you to take a Maria Maleta?
Daniela: A beautiful weekend off in the Portuguese countryside enjoying nature.
Ana: Dinner with friends in a beautiful party full of music and dance.
We’d be down to take a Maria Maleta anywhere, especially with a duo like this.
To meet more designers making their mark, tap [metcha originals].