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CLT Made: MILA Shop

Camila Amortegui and Claudia Zapata.
Camila Amortegui and Claudia Zapata. JOSHUA GALLOWAY

What: Handbags of materials sourced from around the world, designed and made locally. Prices range from $50 to $250.

Who: Mother-daughter team Camila Amortegui and Claudia Zapata teamed up in 2013 to offer select pieces made by local artisans of their home country, Colombia. It didn’t take long to find there was interest in Charlotte, and plenty of other artisans offering wares. So Amortegui and her mother started seeking and soon selling more handmade goods from more countries, including Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan and Peru. “We aim to bring high-quality pieces that are made by hand using techniques that have been passed down from artisan to artisan,” says Amortegui. “All of our pieces are ethically sourced, and we primarily work with fair trade organizations and/or vintage pieces. We have our showroom in Matthews, where customers can come to shop by appointment, and an online store (from) where we ship pieces worldwide.”

How: Textiles are first sourced by the duo. Then, they take the materials and combine them, drawing inspiration from the country the materials come from, creating a design and adding embellishments and jewels. A local seamstress sews the bags, and the result is a unique bag that combines pieces from varying countries, tied by (literally!) a common thread.

On inspiration: “We are driven by the materials we use to make our bags,” says Amortegui. “They all have a special story. Some pieces are 50-plus years old, some cloths are all hand dyed and beaded by many artisans. The mixture of different cultures into one bag makes them exclusive and one-of-a-kind. Where will you ever find a bag made from cloths from Mali, pompoms from Thailand and accents from Pakistan, all designed and made in Charlotte?”

Favorite piece: “The messenger bag is one of my favorite pieces from the collection,” says Amortegui. “It’s great for everyday use and consists of Mali mudcloths and vintage pieces from Pakistan.” Also of note: The styles of bags pictured will be coming out in different colors and patterns. Using different materials means bags will not be the same as those pictured.

www.mila-amor.com; 704-492-9192; Matthews showroom is by appointment only.

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