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Maria Janeff creates 100% vegan bags and accessories under the label Calliope. We checked in with Maria about her Oakland-based company and her favorite memories of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Join us for our annual Holiday Artisan Fair at the de Young to meet Maria and shop her newest collection.

Calliope

We’re so excited to include you at this year’s Holiday Artisan Fair. What can our guests expect from Calliope?

I am excited to be a part of your show for the first time! All Calliope products are 100% vegan. We are committed to producing cruelty-free products. Our fabrics are thoughtfully sourced. We buy from small manufacturers and we are proud to be a part of the slow fashion movement.  

My two favorite purses right now from my latest collection are the Golden Stripe Hemp Crossbody and the Chandra Crossbody bags. I love the mixture between the sturdy, utilitarian hemp fabric and the gold metallic cotton. The metallic softens the hemp and lends some femininity to an otherwise “plain” fabric. The Chandra Crossbody is my other favorite. This design is so usable! The bag offers quite a bit of room, and with an adjustable strap it can be worn across the body or over the shoulder. The exterior zippered pocket keeps your essentials within reach. I am smitten over the fabric. It hails from India and I love the subtle blues and pinks that accent the graphic black and white pattern. These two bags will be available at the Holiday Artisan Fair.

Where does your company’s name come from? 

In Greek mythology, Calliope was the muse of epic poetry. She is often depicted with a writing tablet and wearing a gold crown. Calliope is also the name of the steam piano (these instruments were on the paddle boats that traveled up and down the Mississippi). I love the meaning and images that my company name evokes. 

How did you learn to make bags? 

After graduating from NYU with and undergraduate liberal arts degree, I went to design school in San Francisco. I studied Fashion Design with an emphasis on Patternmaking. I yearned to know how to construct a garment from the beginning to end. Upon graduation, I worked as a patternmaker and honed my skills. I learned on the job and would sew at my home studio – clothing, bags, pillows etc.

Does being in Oakland, or the Bay Area, influence your work at all?

Yes! I am a native San Franciscan and I feel that my work is reflective of the Bay Area. All of my production happens right here in Oakland. Calliope products are 100% vegan and there is a strong vegan community in the Bay Area.

Do you have a special memory from ever visiting the de Young?

One of my most memorable visits to the de Young in recent years was seeing the David Hockney show. I took both of my children and my mother. What an experience! The breadth of his work was spectacularly displayed. I was so moved and inspired by all of the installations. I will never forget it. Thank you to the de Young for making artists' work accessible to all!

If you weren’t designing, you would be ______.

Living on a farm in Sonoma County with goats, chickens, cows, and horses!

Since this is gift-giving season, what’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Do you have any tips for giving a gift to a special someone?

The best gift I ever received was a pair of beautiful pajamas. They were made by a small production company of the most elegant, organic bamboo fabric. They have lasted for many years and feel wonderful! 

When buying a gift for a special someone I recommend purchasing something unique in that it is not mass produced. It could be a clutch or a scarf or a beauty product, all familiar items, but if there is a story behind the item and it is beautiful and you know where it was made, it will surely be a special gift!

Thanks so much, we’ll see you November 18!

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