Meet The Artisan: Amaranto
Amaranto, a team of two sisters working hard towards their mission to help parents sensitise children to important matters through their conscious, playful, and approachable illustrations. This is how their mission came to be:
Can you tell us a little about the history of your brand? How did it get started, and what motivated you to create it?
My name is Martina Mondelli and I founded Amaranto Collection with my sister Valentina, despite our geographical distance (I live in Cape Town and my sister Valentina lives in Rome, where I come from).
When we started, we never really planned to launch a business. In fact, quite the opposite. I was on the market for some prints to decorate my kids’ room, but I couldn’t find anything that really resonated with me. The more I looked the more I knew I wanted something meaningful and intentional, not just beautiful. I started conceptualising some ideas in my head, and then I reached out to my sister to discuss the design. By the time we had envisioned and finalised the first couple of illustrations, we realised that they were very special and that we could consider selling them. So it is safe to say that our children have definitely been our source of inspiration since the beginning! After about 18 months since launching Amaranto Collection, our kids are still our biggest motivation, because they are going to be the future generation of adults. We firmly believe that raising children who respect and embrace each other’s differences means creating a future generation of sensitive and conscious adults, who will make the world a better place.
Image via Amaranto Collection Instagram, amarantocollection.za
What inspires your brand and your designs? Are there any particular influences or themes that you draw upon in your work?
Our illustrations are great conversation starters that can assist parents in introducing and sensitising children to important conscious topics, such as: diversity, inclusion, gender equality, sustainability, diverse families, self-consciousness, representation. We aim to challenge traditional beliefs and common stereotypes, which is why we like to think of ourselves as ‘creative activists’.
What are some of the challenges you've faced as a local South African brand, and how have you overcome them?
I’d say one of the biggest challenges for small local brands is delivery. South Africa is a very vast country, and unfortunately delivery fees can get quite expensive. In addition to that, if you include having to ship fragile items such as frames like we do, the situation gets even trickier. To overcome the challenge of the delivery fee, we did an extensive research of delivery partners and managed to find a good deal with a local courier company. This allows us to offer a flat shipping fee of R70 nationwide, that becomes FREE for orders over R1000. With regards to the challenge of shipping frames, we managed to secure a great stock of wooden frames with perspex screen (not glass), that are both very kid-friendly and delivery-friendly.
Can you tell us about some of the materials and techniques you use in your designs? How do you choose the materials you work with?
The reason why the word ‘collection’ appears in our business name is because we offer a collection of art. This means people can appreciate different styles and techniques across our range of illustrations, because there are different hands behind each of them. Similarly to when you visit an art museum, where you can find and appreciate different paints from different artists. In terms of material, our posters are printed on off-white textured premium paper, which enhances the details and the beauty of each illustration.
How do you approach sustainability and ethical practices in your brand? Are there any initiatives or practices you've implemented to reduce your environmental impact?
Sustainability is a very dear matter to us, and we are constantly refining our practices to build a business that is as environmentally-friendly as possible. We see the biggest impact in packaging, where we try to reduce the use of single-use plastic and to source biodegradable materials to wrap our products.
Can you share any behind-the-scenes stories or anecdotes about your brand or your products?
Remember when I said I started Amaranto Collection because I wanted to create meaningful prints to decorate my kids’ room? Well, I have two daughters and I really dreamed of a piece in their room that represented sisterhood, both by blood and by soul. I envisioned an illustration with rainbow skins, with sisters sharing secrets and supporting each other. Little I knew I was creating what today is our “Hey sis” poster, one of the most loved pieces from our collection. The anecdote is that, despite “Hey sis” being the very first illustration I ever envisioned in my head (even before deciding to start a business), it was only illustrated and launched to market about 12 months later, when we finally found the right artist to bring it to life. During those 12 months, we illustrated and launched another 8 posters, but we never forgot about that idea.
What do you hope customers will experience or feel when they interact with your brand and products?
Inclusion is our strongest pillar. Whether customers interact with Amaranto Collection online, on our website, through our social media community, or face to face, our biggest goal is for everyone to feel welcome and represented.
How do you see your brand evolving in the future? Are there any new projects or collaborations in the works?
Absolutely! First of all, we just launched a brand new series called “Conscious dictionary”. This series is made of 14 posters, all text-based and with stunning colors that make a great feature wall. Each definition aims to challenge different stereotypes or traditional beliefs, capturing the essence of what we stand for. We are very excited because it’s our first series suitable not only for parents, children and teachers, but for anyone! At the same time, we are working on many other projects that don’t include just new posters and illustrations. We aim for Amaranto Collection to become the go-to hub for conscious products and gifts for children. So we would like to expand into new categories (i.e. books, educational toys, t-shirts, etc). Some of these products may or may not already be in the pipeline…🙂 It’s just a matter of finding enough time in a day to do everything!
What advice would you give to other local South African brands looking to succeed in the industry? OR What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start their own brand or business?
If you have an idea that makes you smile every time you think about it, if you have an idea that doesn’t make you sleep at night because you spend endless hours on Google and social media, researching and reviewing, if you have an idea that excites you and gives you purpose… then go for it. Do never not do it because you think something similar already exists, or because you think you will never be able to overcome the next steps. One day I came across a quote that says “There are people out there less qualified, doing the things you want to do, simply because they decided to believe in themselves”, and I couldn’t agree more. Overthink less and do more. The rest will come.
Finally, Can you share with us some of your favorite products or collections that you have created, and why they are special to you?
My sister and I have conceptualised every single illustration of our collection, so I struggle to pick a favorite poster because they are all very dear to me. However I can pick a special moment related to one of them. It was bedtime for my kids, who back then were almost 5yo and almost 3yo, and I was lying on their bed next to them. The light was off, and we were chatting in the dark for a few minutes like we always do, after reading a story. I was telling them I wanted to design a poster that showcased different families and one of them said : “Different from who, mom?” and I replied: “Well, different from ours for instance.” So we started mentioning the different families we could think of: mom and daughter; two dads and two daughters; two moms and one son; a mom and a dad with no children; a mom and a dad with four children with different skin color from their own; two dads with two children with different skin color from each other; dad with two twin sons; two grandparents with one grandkid; a mom and a son with different skin color… The more we mentioned all possible “combinations”, the more we realised there were so many types of families out there! This is how the idea of our “Family is about love” poster started, and it’s a very special memory for me. “Family is about love” is definitely one of my favorite posters from our collection, and it teaches children that their friends’ families may look different from their own, and this is totally normal and healthy.
Rock Paper Scissors is so proud to be supporting Amaranto's mission with their conscious kids posters- creating space for conversations with children about important topics, one poster at a time.