Makwa Studio owner Maggie Thompson has a mission. She’s joining the conversation, and helping to change how the Native culture is portrayed and perceived in today’s society.
Maggie, a Fond du Lac Ojibwe, found her calling through design.
“I became interested in how I, as a Native person of mixed heritage, could help shift what was being put out in to the world to represent a culture that is about way more than feathers and tipis,” Maggie said.
In 2013 during her senior year of college at the Rhode Island School of Design, Maggie started to observe how the Native culture was being portrayed in mainstream fashion. She then began critiquing the cultural appropriation that she was witnessing as a young artist and designer.
Not long after receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Textiles, Maggie launched Makwa Studio in 2014. She started out creating knitwear such as hats, cowls and scarves due to the harsh winters Minnesotans have to endure.
“I wanted to create timeless, cozy pieces that people would appreciate and wear proudly,” Maggie said. “I design all of the patterns and strive to use high quality wool yarns.”
You can find these knitwear items as well as hoodie scarves at Holidazzle Nov. 25-27, Dec. 15-18, 22 & 23. Holidazzle’s full calendar run this year is Thursdays through Sundays from Friday, November 25 through Friday, December 23. It is open Thursdays from 5-9 pm, Fridays from 5-10 pm, Saturdays from 11 am-10 pm and Sundays from 11 am-7 pm.
“I am excited to be a part of Holidazzle because I love to be out in the community, and to have the chance to meet my supporters and talk with them in person,” Maggie said.
Maggie was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She chose the name “Makwa,” or bear as the title of her business in respect for her family’s relationship to bears as well as fond memories while traveling to the Boundary Waters as a kid.
Each item is designed and hand loomed at Maggie’s studio in the Northrup King Building located in NE Minneapolis. All designs are completely original while she does her best to stay active in the Native community as a Native artist and designer.
“I hope people will have a better understanding of Native art and fashion,” Maggie said. “As well as the process and the time that it takes to produce each item.”
When Maggie started out she was buying single balls of yarn from the Textiles Center to simply make a single hat. Now, she has the ability to support herself part time, maintain a studio, and buy equipment and materials in bulk. This past year Maggie was a recipient for the Jerome Fiber Grant award through the MN Textile Center. With this opportunity she was able to create a small collection of garments which she hopes to bring to Makwa Studio this spring.