September 18, 2014

Handmade Marathon: Megan Jackman of Ragmaw

Editor's Note: I met Megan of Ragmaw earlier this year and instantly fell in love with her product line. I've been wanting to introduce more local creatives here on the Petit Cadeau for quite some time, so this is the beginning of more local features. This interview has some slightly different questions from my usual #handmademarathon, because I also interviewed Megan for a feature on Oh My Handmade over the Summer. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your Ragmaw products.

My name is Megan Natasha Jackman; I am the owner and textile artist behind Ragmaw. I was born and raised in central Newfoundland. I love traveling, drawing, meeting new people and, of course, textile design!

Ragmaw is textile studio that emphasizes natural materials and local production in St. John’s, Newfoundland. We create functional pieces of art, mainly handbags, using techniques such as screen printing, block printing, and traditional leatherwork.  We aim to create rich designs and compelling patterns that reflect coastal landscapes and a free-spirited lifestyle.  

Where does the name Ragmaw come from?

Ragmaw is a Newfoundland word (sometimes said ‘rag-moll’) that referred to children whose clothing were torn, tattered, and often left un-mended. My grandmother remembers the word from her childhood. I liked the word because it is unique and felt a little bit tongue-in-cheek when I decided to use it. Sure, its meaning isn’t dainty but when I was making bags in university, I was using scraps of anything I could find (essentially rags).  And, when my grandmother was raising her children, she would make their clothing herself based on photos from catalogues, to keep them looking sharp! The word is connected to my early bag-making days and it is also a nod to creative resourcefulness.

What/who inspires you?

My business will get bogged down if I create all of my products with only ‘me’ in mind. So, I draw my inspiration from local landscapes, people and cultural cues… with a little bit of myself mixed in there now and again. This keeps my product line relevant and allows a meaningful exchange between myself, as an artist, and the buyer. 

The ‘who’ of my inspiration is my grandmother, always on the other end of the phone line with the words to keep me going. I also have this poem called ‘Don’t Quit’ posted above my sewing machine. It’s on a lovely card that my grandfather gave me once, I read bits of it when I am in a rut and it really helps. And, lastly, I’m really inspired by the women I’ve met locally who have plugged through the struggles of starting up a business to become successful.

If you went on an adventure today, where would it take you?
Oh gosh, where wouldn’t it take me! That’s a tough question but if money were no issue, I would definitely take off to the Northwest Territories for a few weeks, I’ve never been there.

We worked on a custom bag together and I loved that we collaborated to create a unique product that was a combination of both of our tastes and was still easily recognized as a Ragmaw product! What was that process like for you?

It was fun and very rewarding! Ragmaw not about me, it’s about beautiful people accessing art and style that shows off their beauty and uniqueness.

When we were chatting, I was jotting down everything you said you wanted in your bag: geometric prints, neutral color palette. But, also, I was getting a feel for your personality: fun, fresh, and stylish (I got that from your outfit!).  

When I create a custom bag, I need to remove my personal taste but still keep my design eye in the process so that the person can look at the end results and see themselves. It is the best feeling to meet the people who wear my bags… it’s really awesome to see someone on the street wearing a Ragmaw!

What would you suggest to customers thinking about purchasing a Ragmaw product?
I would say they should check out my Facebook page, my website and follow me on Twitter where they can see my new work and get to know me, as an artist, through my videos and blog.  Purchasing a Ragmaw piece is about owning a bag that shows off your beauty and free-spirit. I love wearing my red daisy bag that I made over ten years ago… even now I feel like it’s a tangible piece of my personality that speaks for itself.

It’s really special to know the person who has made your favorite handbag – where and who they are. It’s a connectedness that is harder and harder to find nowadays. I think our best style purchases are made when we choose an item that represents our own unique style and  reminds us of our best self, these purchases are forever-loves.  I want people to purchase their Ragmaw handbag in this way.

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