For this edition we’re meeting maker Megan Granger from Charlotte, North Carolina business Moko & Company. Moko & Co. makes vibrant, colorful, graphic and beautifully patterned bags and towels of all sorts. They even specialize in custom welcome gift bags for special events. Find out how she got the courage to start her business, and take a peek at her delightful screen printed products.
1| How do you describe your work to people who don’t know anything about crafting/art?
I explain that I design patterns and screen print them onto fabric then I sew them up into different pouches, clutches, and carry-its. Another facet of my business is wedding welcome bags that I design and screen print. I sell these through etsy and my website to brides/grooms to use as hotel gift bags. I also design and sell my totes through local retail shops as they are customizable based on location. I print state silhouettes with the heart over any city onto totes and tea towels. I also can add text and custom color combinations, which is fun for stores and their customers.
2| I see you make pillows as well. Any new product ideas in store?
I’ve been playing around with hand painted fabric and a combination of screen printed fabric with hand painted elements. I’ve also been brainstorming and sketching out new tote bag designs.
3| Why do you make/design things?
I’ve been making/designing since I was in high school when my sister and I started Moko & Company. Our mom was always very crafty and always making and sewing so we followed her lead. Our process and products have definitely evolved since high school, but I guess you could say it’s always been a part of who we are to create.
4| What do you love about your job?
I love working with customers and retail stores to design custom products. Every time I screen print an image or a pattern I still get so excited to see it printed on the fabric or tote bags. I love making customer’s visions come alive and creating one-of-a-kind products that are unique to them and their concept.
5| Was being a working artist always your plan or was there an “aha” moment?
I always worked creatively on the side, it wasn’t until we moved to Charlotte, NC and I attended the Maker’s Summit in Greensville, SC that I realized this interest and passion could be a full time career. The Maker’s Summit gathered like-minded makers and made me feel less alone in my creative journey. I wasn’t the only one with a creative passion that wanted it to be a full time career and that was very comforting to me. I would say that was my “aha”/”I can do this” moment.
6| How do you work, and where?
I work in my home studio where I have my screens, printing table, and slop sink. As orders come in I design proofs and send them to customers. Once proofs are approved, I set my screen and begin printing their orders. All of our totes and fabrics are screen printed. Some of our products have hand printed elements as well
7| What are your inspirations when creating patterns and choosing color pallets?
Whenever I am out and about I always have my eyes open for inspiring imagery and patterns I may stumble upon. I’ll take a photo with my camera and bring it back to my studio to sketch out some ideas and concepts that I turn into patterns. Some of my patterns I design by hand and transfer directly to my screen for screen printing. Sometimes I will scan them and manipulate them on the computer first. I love the limitations of screen printing fabrics because it forces me to choose colors wisely since I am limited to one or two inks. I’ll test out different color combinations of ink and fabric and then print the patterns using my favorite ones. Once I see the patterns printed in the color ways, I’ll choose which ones I want to proceed with and use for my products.
8| If you could swap lives with another artist, who would that person be?
I greatly admire Lotta Jansdotter. I was lucky enough to attend a workshop in her Brooklyn studio and I loved her space, her attitude, and her design style.
9| What makes a handmade object valuable?
Handmade is extremely valuable because you not only receive a quality product, you receive a product with a story behind it. When products are made by hand they have a certain aesthetic to them that you can’t recreate through digital printing or machine made products. They have little quirks here and there that add charm. I love the handmade look of our tote bags. The ink we use is different than that of a commercial printer and you can really tell the difference. The ink is more absorbed by our totes and they become married together creating a really neat look.
10| Using that definition, what’s the most valuable object you own?
The most valuable object I own is a quilt I got up in Vermont at a little quilting shop. It is made with such love and care, the stitching is impeccable, and you can tell a lot of thought when behind the design and fabric choices.
11| What is the hardest part about owning your own business?
The hardest part about owning my own business is making sure I’m not spreading myself too thin. It’s definitely important to prioritize and be organized to ensure everything I need to get done is getting done. Since I run a home-based business, it’s also a challenge to stop working because there is always “one more thing I could do.” I try very hard to take time for myself especially on the weekends and reboot.
12| Give us three more non-crafting-related details about you or your life.
I’ve lived in Charlotte, NC for three years. We moved from up north and absolutely love it. We love the city of Charlotte and how much it is growing and thriving. We also love exploring the new area and driving to different cities and states to explore. We’ve been to Hilton Head, SC; Charleston, SC; Savannah, GA; West Palm Beach, FL; Asheville, NC; those are a few of our favorites! We love that we can drive all of these places from Charlotte. Next on the list is Nashville!
If you’d like to see more of Megan’s work, check her out on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter. Or, of course, you can come on down to the East end of Mass Ave. and visit us here at Homespun Modern Handmade! We’d love to see ya.