You’ll find lots of bags to clutch at in this San Juan boutique
But Concalma, located right near the True Value hardware and the local Walgreens, offered a respite from that sort of mass market production. The saleswoman applied none of the pressure that you often encounter in small boutiques, leaving me free to look around. The store sells a range of reasonably priced, environmentally sustainable bags, totes and clutches made by area artisans; I was immediately drawn to the streamlined messenger bags as well as the more sophisticated clutches. Within minutes, I found myself buying one of each.
The store’s owner and designer, Rhode Island School of Design graduate Matilsha Marxuach, has both a social and a practical mission: promoting fashion while providing local employment. A few years ago, she wanted to launch an industrially manufactured product and participate in the fair trade movemen guess factory t. So she landed on the idea of collaborating with a women’s co op that textile workers in Utuado created when the city’s two major clothing manufacturers went out of business. Now members of the cooperative in the mountainous center of Puert guess factory o Rico work for her. The bags they produce are made of cotton, with nylon liners; all the fabrics come from Puerto Rican suppliers.
Everyone talks about buying local, but as Marxuach explained in an e mail, “To be able to consume locally and responsibly, there must be products like these available to you.” You can also pick up high quality Puerto Rican coffee, as well as some accessories, in her shop.
Many of Concalma’s bags are comfortable, with wide straps, but they aren’t strictly utilitarian. Marxuach has produced a line of products that aims to match the store’s Spanish name, which means “to approach everything with a sense of calm.” Many of the wares, such as the mensajero, or messenger bags, boast a simple elegance and are as functional as they are attractive. The clutches are quirkier, combining a mix of fabrics and fine detailing. All the bags feature a clever juxtaposition of colors. And the prices $35 to $45 fo guess factory r a messenger ba guess factory g, $55 for totes and $35 to $120 for a clutch mean that if you’re really torn, you don’t have to choose just one.