business, gift guideVirginia HartComment

I'm so very excited to tell you about a new company today called Malena. Founded by a dear and brilliant friend, Malena is an online marketplace where you can shop for gorgeous, ethical goods that tell a story and empower people worldwide. I have witnessed countless hours of work, grit, and love poured into this company and can't adequately express how amazed and proud I am at what my friend has accomplished in such a short amount of time, and what she is doing and providing for others through her work. Here is a short video about the Malena story:

I also feel incredibly honored to have had the opportunity to help with the graphic and textile design aspects of Malena these past few months. Some of it came easy, like knowing the perfect font for the logo the second I heard her vision, while other details required trial and error and many laughs and middle-of-the-night email sessions while she was in Ethiopia in order to make last minute changes and perfect the four lines of scarves. Speaking of the scarves, I am obsessed with how they turned out. And to say that each one is made with love is an understatement. Watch this video to see more!

The current shop features goods from Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Guatemala, Cambodia, India, Ecuador, Uganda, and the USA. Although it was nearly impossible to narrow down my favorites from Malena's shop because I honestly adore every single piece, I wanted to share a few that have particularly won me over!


1. These fabric pouches, made in Rwanda, are the perfect little item to have in your purse or on your travels. I fell in love with the hot air balloon fabric and the collective's unique, bright rainbow stitching. Each one has a tiny heart hand-sewn inside of it as well which you know I love!

2. These soaps are made in the Downtown Women's Center in Los Angeles, scented with 100% pure essential oils, and wrapped in recycled book papers from the shelter's donation center. Wouldn't these make such a special hostess gift?

3. This bag, made in Guatemala, might be the prettiest weekender I've ever seen! The perfect, easy "suitcase" for all your summer plans. It also comes in this color!

4. These swirl bowls are woven from natural sisal over grasses and dyed with tea leaves in Rwanda. They come in a few sizes and make such a unique centerpiece or gift.

5. The Scout striped scarf (named after Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird) in lavender is one of my favorites for this season. All scarves are made in Ethiopia!

6. I need a kitchen/dining table so I can use these fun placemats! Made in Rwanda, they have the same special rainbow stitching and heart as the fabric pouches in #1.

7. Yep, I need these sandals made in Kenya. The leather and beadwork are gorgeous!

8. Need a cool wedding gift for someone? This copper trinket box, made in India, is perfect.

9. Woven in the same material as the swirl bowls, these bracelets from Rwanda are a fun, lightweight addition to your arm party.

10. This gold-dipped wine holder is so cool. Wouldn't this make an amazing hostess or wedding gift?

11. The Lisbeth infinity scarf (yep, thank you Stieg Larsson!) is my favorite scarf of all. While I can't pick my favorite out of the three color options to save my life, the black and white one really stands out as one you could wear all the time.

12. Another scarf design, the Maya ombre (named after Maya Angelou!), is soooo soft. I'm all about the softness when it comes to scarves, aren't you? I really love it in this cobalt blue color, but I adore the others too!

13. The Joy line, named in honor of some of the founder's friends and family, is the most luxurious as it's 65% silk. I can't pick a favorite color from this one either, but the metallic grey is calling my name. I love the idea of using one as a blanket when I travel.

14. I have my eye on this banana leaf tray, made in Rwanda, for my art supplies! My friend uses hers to store tea bags which I think is really clever.

15. These beautiful earrings from Rwanda are woven in a similar pattern as the bowls in #4. The best part about these statement baubles is that they're super lightweight.

16. I love a good stackable ring! Check out this brass, twisted ring from Kenya that also comes in midi size if you'd like to wear it higher up on your finger.

17. I think these little elephants are adorable! Made in Rwanda from the same collective as a few of the other items, you'll also find that signature hand-sewn heart behind one of the ears.

...and yes, my handwriting is on the turquoise scarf tags which makes me smile so big!!!

Learn more about Malena HERE and shop all these items (plus more!) HERE! Thanks so much for reading and supporting my friend's incredible company and its powerful cause.

P.S. See the founder's article on Malena in the The Huffington Post here!