Luxury is Handmade
The entire process is intensely human, from careful selection of plant and animal fibers, to hand dyeing yarn with natural pigments, throwing clay and weaving textiles on traditional looms.
Diverse by Design
From our innovative designs to our passionate people, we believe diversity is critical to our success and the cornerstone of any company that claims to be a business for good.
We respect and celebrate the cultural heritage of our sources of inspiration. We combine luxurious natural materials with contemporary artisanship to create timeless pieces that you’ll treasure.
Sustainability & Transparency
Foundational yes, but not something we seek external recognition or accolades for. We proudly share the provenance and composition of materials used in every piece. Our products are made with natural materials that biodegrade and renew. We seek out craft collectives with expertise in plant-based dyes to color fibers without harmful chemicals. Our company’s diversity data is continually tracked, updated and published. Read more about our commitment to sustainability here.
Our Company News
Identity. Power. Status. More than just a tool for hair care, an intricately carved Chokwe comb is a representation of all the above. Usually depicting figures or representing village life, these combs date back to the 19th century and were worn as hair ornaments as part of traditional attire.
As Nikki Fox writes for Odele Beauty: “Black hair has a uniquely meaningful history as a symbol of survival, resistance, and celebration.” The comb carries such significance because hair has always been closely intertwined with identity in African-American culture – it is an undeniable symbol of pride, personal power, and spiritual meaning.
The rich historical significance is what led MADE x HANDS to choose the Chokwe comb as a motif in its debut pillow collection. “It’s such a symbol of pride in African-American culture,” says Bryan Turpin, Co-Founder and CEO of MADE x HANDS. “We value the history and provenance of things, so once I learned about these combs, I instantly knew I wanted to do something with them.”
Bryan’s own exposure and education in African art and culture began in early childhood, when he first encountered his grandfather’s art collection. In the 1980s, his grandfather had traveled to several countries, including a few in Africa, and filled his house with pieces he had collected on these trips.
The Chokwe pillow collection is the first of six, marking only the beginning of the MADE x HANDS line with much more to come. Each pillow features a different comb design that’s hand-embroidered on the front and back. Named after words in the Bantu language that reflect the spirit of each comb, the pillows are a celebration of African pride and culture.
And of course, every pillow has a story. It begins life as silk fibers harvested from Eri silkworms, also known as peace silk because the extraction process only begins after the moth has left the cocoon. The spinning process is done on a household fly or throw shuttle loom, before the yarn is dyed with natural pigments derived from plants, vegetables and minerals – a process that has been used for thousands of years.
Finally, the dyed yarn is hand-woven into fabric. The combination of the Eri silk and natural dyes creates beautiful, subtle striations in color that no machine or synthetic dye can replicate. Then skilled embroiderers, who have years of experience in their craft, put the finishing touches to each pillow with precise hand-embroidery.
The carving of these Chokwe combs by Bantu artists is a centuries-old art form we celebrate today. Each handmade pillow is more than a home accessory, it's art with cultural heritage. And as with any work of art, Bryan hopes that the stories behind the pillow will inspire dynamic dialogue about identity, provenance and craftsmanship. “A pair of our Chokwe throw pillows changes your couch into a conversation,” he says.
Shop the Chokwe Comb Pillow Collection here.
Launching today in public beta, MADE x HANDS aims to inspire interiors that are exquisitely handmade and intentionally inclusive. The company’s contemporary designs celebrate the cultural contributions of the Asian and African diasporas while helping revive the ancient art of natural dyeing. MADE x HANDS’ debut collection of throw pillows, rugs and blankets are all made by hand using luxurious, sustainable materials such as cashmere, wool and silk.
Bryan Turpin, African-American and raised in the U.S, and Samita Malik, a native of India, founded the business in Bangalore. Already partners in life, they combined their corporate experience with their cultural curiosity and passion for travel. The couple have lived in five countries and visited almost four dozen more; along the way, acquiring a strong appreciation for traditional textiles, foreign art and antiques.
Rewriting the Narrative
In the conception stage of MADE x HANDS, Bryan already knew what message he wanted the brand to deliver to the world – one of authenticity and inclusivity.
“When we first researched this category [of home décor], we noticed a disconnect in how décor from Asia and Africa was being presented to Western audiences – it’s essentially whitewashed,” he says. “We reflexively refute the colonization of decor and interior design by Eurocentric gate-keepers.”
In turning this narrative on its head, the MADE x HANDS collection is decidedly different, almost defiantly so. Crafted to be conversation starters, the pieces are richly colored and tantalizingly textured, a refreshing contrast to the monotony of muted tones and plain patterns masquerading as modern in the industry today.
Distinct by Design
The first debut product category is throw pillows, featuring a series of signature MADE x HANDS patterns and colors. One highlight, the Chokwe comb collection, is inspired by antique hair ornaments that were originally carved by artists along the Congo River. Each pillow is woven by hand, with hand-embroidered Chokwe comb designs on either sustainable silk or crisp linen.
Also included in the launch are hand-knotted runners and area rugs. Carpets were highly coveted and one of the earliest textiles traded along the ancient Silk Routes. Each rug’s plush pile is knotted by hand in mulberry silk, bamboo silk or worsted wool. The original designs draw inspiration from ancient architecture, abstract art and tribal traditions across Afghanistan, Egypt and Morocco just to name a few.
The third pillar of products to premier on the site is an exclusive assortment of 100% cashmere throw blankets. After sourcing the finest cashmere from Kashmir, MADE x HANDS weaves its unbelievably soft throws on simple wooden looms, relying on the spectacular skill of artists whose history weaving cashmere goes back generations.
For Bryan and Samita, the work of bringing culture and craft to the forefront of contemporary design is a calling close to their hearts. Bryan’s late grandfather, Dr. Robert Turpin lived in an architect-designed, mid-century modern home that showcased a handmade collection of art from his trips to Africa. For a time, Bryan lived with his grandfather, and being exposed to craft from the continent, left an early imprint on him. Halfway around the world, Samita spent her early childhood in Kashmir, the contested region at the foothills of the Himalayas. In Kashmir, working with cashmere is a way of life. Locals make their livelihoods herding and shearing goats, spinning and dyeing yarn, and weaving beautiful blankets and shawls. She was also exposed to the vast outer reaches of India, as her father’s military career took her family on a trek across the country.
However, it’s more than just a personal journey: with decades of ecommerce and operations experience, the duo is bringing their professional expertise to the forefront as well. Bryan worked in New York, driving demand generation for Amazon’s fashion subsidiary Shopbop and while based in Hong Kong, he built digital marketing capabilities for companies across Asia Pacific. Samita is a digital pioneer in her own right, honing her craft in the insurance space.
A Bright Future
The beta launch of MADE x HANDS forms the foundation for a robust roll-out of collections and categories over time. Each future release will follow the same formula - made by hand, naturally dyed and celebrating the cultural heritage of peoples and places along the ancient Silk Routes.
Aside from a broader and deeper product assortment, the website will expand and evolve into a rich user experience that includes integration with inventory and offline services.
“We want to consistently inspire those who seek out exceptional, original decor for their homes… We want customers to feel seen, and feel like their culture is reflected in the products they buy. MADE x HANDS will be a breath of fresh air in an industry that is stuffy, stagnant and stifled by its lack of diversity. Our tribe values design, sustainability and diversity; and now they have a brand to call their own,” says Bryan.
MADE x HANDS, a luxury home décor brand that makes naturally-dyed, handmade objets d’art inspired by the Asian and African diasporas, has raised USD $200,000 from international private investors in a pre-seed round of financing.
Birthed in Bangalore in early 2020, MADE x HANDS is a contemporary celebration of heritage, culture and ancient traditions that have been passed down through the generations. In a series of signature silhouettes, colors and patterns, the brand seeks to rethink and reshape the interior industry’s perception of diversity in design.
“Home décor is a $600B global market, of which the US and Europe are the majority. When we first researched this category, we noticed a disconnect in how décor from Asia and Africa was being presented to Western audiences – it’s essentially whitewashed,” says Bryan Turpin, CEO and co-founder of MADE x HANDS.
“We reflexively refute the colonization of decor and interior design by Eurocentric gate-keepers,” he adds. In such a world, Bryan notes, contemporary design is synonymous with muted textures, colors, and patterns. By contrast, décor with cultural influences is – consciously or unconsciously – classified as “ethnic” or “traditional,” marginalizing what should otherwise have been authentic heritage.
Instead, MADE x HANDS puts this untold history front and center with its bold and unapologetic vision. The brand’s design choices take inspiration from the ancient Silk Routes, when African and Asian cultures were the global epicenter of ingenuity and influence.
The company’s international investors, based in the United States, Hong Kong, Japan and India, share a firm belief in the same vision.
“Traditional home decor is destined for disruption, particularly in this era of inclusivity and cultural consciousness,” says Angela McCareins, an experienced private investor who backed the brand. “MADE x HANDS was founded by two business executives who are highly attuned to these significant trends and can uniquely capitalize on them. Bryan and Samita are building a diverse, design-driven company that will challenge the status quo.”
The founders are e-commerce and operations veterans Bryan Turpin and Samita Malik, drawing on both their professional and personal experiences to launch the start-up. The duo are certified culture connoisseurs, having lived in five countries and traveled to more than fifty others. The brand is infused with their shared passions and beliefs.
“A major driving force behind the brand is the desire to cultivate conscious consumerism. We want to do our part to combat the growing inequality exacerbated by an over-reliance on machine-made products, and also minimize our impact on the environment. We believe these are values shared by a growing cohort of consumers in the US, Europe and Asia. And home-décor is a segment where much of this wrong can be addressed without requiring a massive change in consumer behavior,” says Samita, co-founder of MADE x HANDS.
The company will use the $200,000 in funding to bring its debut, luxury textile collection to market and expand its artist clusters beyond the Indian subcontinent in tandem with new product and category launches in 2022.
For Bryan Turpin and Samita Malik, both in their forties, life is far from ordinary. The couple has moved to five different countries and traveled to more than fifty, taking their family where the road leads them.
Today, they’re running MADE x HANDS, a luxury home décor brand that brings together unparalleled quality, exquisite handmade craftsmanship, and exclusive designs. Their creations are an ode to the heritage of Asian and African cultures with a modern twist, turning the idea of contemporary design on its head.
Tell us more about the journey that led you to create MADE x HANDS.
For a long time, I’ve been collecting textiles and art on my travels: rugs from Morocco, India and Turkey, blankets from Bhutan and Laos, and art from everywhere (Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Myanmar). Each of these things commemorated my visits and allowed me to keep a piece of the place with me. I used to live in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn and I would fantasize about having a small store on Atlantic Avenue (a street with a cluster of home decor and antique shops) where I could sell what I found while traveling.
When I was living in Hong Kong, I was able to travel and see a lot of Asia. And with each of these trips, one of the most interesting parts was discovering how unique the art was in each place. Sometimes it was a pure interpretation of an artist's local environment or customs, and other times there were strong global influences at play. We’d often buy pieces from these trips and bring them home.
Travel leaves a lasting impression on you, and at the same time, tourism leaves a mark on communities. I visited Bhutan which is relatively rugged, raw and devoid of foreign visitors. However modest their tourism industry is, it's still a major draw for young people, who prefer to leave their villages for tourist work in the capital. As a result, some of the youth are not interested or even present in their villages to learn and master the craft traditions of their parents and grandparents. So when I do purchase local art or a hand woven textile, I feel like I'm helping preserve culture. And with MADE x HANDS, I'm able to amplify that impact.
And that led you to India, where MADE x HANDS was born.
Yes, I went to India right when COVID was starting, in January 2020. I started thinking about what I wanted to do after corporate life, and there was a library in the hotel where we were staying that had a lot of coffee table books on Asian art and textiles. Over hot chocolate, I voraciously flipped through these books; the antique rugs were my favorite because they were so unique compared to what was in the market. The styles, patterns and colors felt so much more soulful compared to what you see home décor companies offering. Although some of these were old, to me they would feel right at home in a contemporary space.
About 45 minutes from our hotel, we toured a rural village where we came across a family weaving a rug on their home loom. I had so many questions: where did this design come from? What materials are these? How was the color achieved? Could I give you a design? How long would it take to makeit? I made the guide and my wife translate all of my questions into Hindi so I could speak to the family.
At this point, although I had traveled around the country over a dozen times before, I was seeing India in this artistic light for the first time. Artistic and approachable. Basically, if you have an idea, there are artists almost hidden away in these small villages who could bring that idea to life.
The flame was lit. I knew I wanted to do something that combined my growing appreciation (slight obsession) for traditional textiles, my understanding of global culture and my lived experience as an African American. Since I was new to home decor, I had to extensively research the landscape. That was when I discovered how few companies had people of color at the helm – I could almost count them on one hand.
Given what I knew to be true, which was that Asian and African cultures created so much of the templates and techniques that go into our home furnishings, the absence of diverse leadership in home decor companies was shocking and shameful, but not surprising.
So MADE x HANDS is so much more than a luxury home decor brand – it’s a beacon for a more inclusive world.
Starting a business during COVID is tough. What was it like for MADE x HANDS?
Of course, with many borders being closed, international travel has been very restricted. But choosing India ended up being very strategic. There is such a rich, handmade history here, local skill combined with artistic influences from Persia and Central Asia. So we’ve been able to travel to artist clusters all over the country to prototype and develop our products.
Hong Kong was a regional hub for Asia, so Samita and I are very used to managing teams across multiple countries. Light work. COVID has accelerated the adoption of digital tools and virtual teams. Because MADE x HANDS was born during this time, our team is organically virtual and international. Across just marketing and product, we have talent in Istanbul, Thessaloniki, Los Angeles, Chicago and multiple cities across India. And so that's been amazing, being able to build a business despite the challenges of a pandemic.
What are your hopes for MADE X HANDS and the impact it will have?
We want to consistently inspire those who seek out exceptional, original decor for their homes. And with our pioneering commitment to natural dyes, natural materials and handmade, MADE x HANDS gives consumers choices that are better for the planet. We also want customers to feel seen, and feel like their culture is reflected in the products they buy. MADE x HANDS will be a breath of fresh air in an industry that is stuffy, stagnant and stifled by it's lack of diversity. Our tribe values design, sustainability and diversity; and now they have a brand to call their own.