"Tanora is the celebration of Madagascan ancestral artistry with an Australian modern aesthetic and sustainable conscience."
We recently had the opportunity to chat with Manon, the co-founder of Tanora, an Australian brand dedicated to creating traditionally handcrafted, eco-friendly raffia bags and accessories. Inspired by our incredible beaches here down under, Tanora echoes the natural beauty of the Australian coastal landscape through its products.
Read on to learn more about Manon, and Tanora's commitment to sustainability, and ethical practices.
[TLSE] “Tanora is the celebration of Madagascan ancestral artistry with an Australian modern aesthetic and sustainable conscience.” What does Tanora personally mean to you and your history?
[Manon] My partner and I were both born into Madagascan handicraft, it has been our respective mothers' occupation for years and years.
Tanora means "Youth" in Madagascan; the idea behind the brand is to bring a modern and Aussie vibe to traditional Madagascan handicraft. Handicraft is losing attention amongst youngsters in Madagascar, which seems to be a trend echoed globally across many cultures. Tanora is a way of showing them we can do modern and beautiful, while still keeping it traditional.
All your products are handcrafted in Madagascar using traditional looms, tell us a little about the process behind each creation.
We use traditional looms for our handwoven raffia. It takes a full day to set-up the loom: brushing raffia-like hair to get thin threads, almost like cotton, which are then attached to the loom.
The main technique we use is crochet, which is a global craft, however crocheting natural raffia is not as easy as cotton or wool. It requires dexterity and patience, and some stitches are more complicated than others.
Finally, our most refined and favourite is raffia bobbin lace, which is the most endangered technique.
Maintaining the ‘human side’ and authenticity within the craft of Madagascar raffia is an essential part of your production process, why is this so important to your brand?
Madagascar provides the best quality raffia; the palm tree’s origin is Madagascar and handicraft is a traditional practice of the culture. In a globalised world, raffia trees are often mass cut then raffia is exported raw. Accessories are then machine made, or mass made elsewhere for a cheaper price. This practice is an environmental and social tragedy, as Madagascan artisans are left with no job, and raffia ends up losing its sustainable properties as trees are cut down instead of pruned. Madagascar has been suffering from massive deforestation for decades, and the export of raw raffia only exacerbates this.
Tanora has made a commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. What does this entail for your employees?
90% of our artisans are women, and a large majority of those women are mothers. At the Tanora workshop, we provide a comfortable living wage. In other words, we ensure our artisans are able to afford accommodation, food, are able send their kids to school, and save money on the side. We aim for quality and sustainability, and to do so, we also ensure the working environment is adequate. A large portion of our artisans are home-based, which allows them to stay close to their families while maintaining a regular income.
Tanora’s beautiful vision emerged from a road trip down Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. What are some of your other favourite spots in Australia to gain inspiration from?
My partner and I travelled a lot in Australia - Tasmania is probably the next one on the bucket list.
We really love the Sydney area. In terms of inspiration, we love Palm Beach for its coastal vibe, and Paddington and Surry Hills for urban. Two years ago, we did a road trip to Port Douglas - we loved Noosa and Mission Beach.
For more on Tanora and their amazing handcrafted products, click here.
INTERVIEW | Rebecca Chu
IMAGES | TLSE