Business Monday

Mexico-based MAKA: design with an artisanal flair

Founder Maricarmen Castillón, left, and Minni Villalobos, operations manager at MAKA Lifestyle, in the MAKA showroom in South Miami.
Founder Maricarmen Castillón, left, and Minni Villalobos, operations manager at MAKA Lifestyle, in the MAKA showroom in South Miami. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

“I always want people to find something different and unique,” said Maricarmen Castillón, the founder and owner of Mexico City-based MAKA Accessories & Artifacts. “I don’t want to sell items made in China, where they can produce three million of the same design.”

MAKA is derived from the Aztec (Nahuatl) word for “giving” and is also a shortened version of Maricarmen. The company designs and sells luxury furniture and home décor, high-end clothing and accessories, ladies’ jewelry and other products. Castillón, an interior designer and entrepreneur, works with artisans and companies in Mexico, the Netherlands, Turkey and other countries to produce exclusive lines of attractive and unusual products that she sells to other interior designers and design companies, professional decorators, and builders. In addition, MAKA sells some product lines to select boutiques.

Castillón also works directly with architects, designers, builders and clients on home, office and commercial projects.

“We listen to our customers and work closely with them … we get very involved,” Castillón said. “We want to give them the very best feeling possible in their homes and offices.”

MAKA was founded in Mexico City in 1999. Castillón decided to open a showroom and sales office in Miami two years ago to reach new clients in the United States and other countries.

MAKA has three employees in Miami and works with sales people who reach out to potential clients here and throughout the U.S. In Mexico City, MAKA has eight employees, some of whom work with the artisans producing goods for the firm. There is also a customer service center in the Mexican capital.

MAKA develops its own designs and works in partnership with other design companies and artists.

For example, in Mexico, artists paint colorful designs on MAKA handbags and other items, like decorative trays. Artisans from different parts of Mexico also produce purses, wallets and belts.

In Miami, an artist from Wynwood paints designs on MAKA products. “We like to meet local artists and cooperate on projects,” Castillón said. “There is a wonderful creative pool in Wynwood.”

MAKA has also partnered with an important Mexican foundation, Ojos que sienten (Eyes that feel), that helps blind and visually impaired individuals develop a variety of useful, marketable and creative skills. The association says that it has helped more than 500,000 people. One key aspect of the program is teaching the blind how to use their other senses to take photographs. MAKA is producing a limited edition of handbags, each of which has a photo taken by a blind individual attached.

Castillón was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. She studied marketing and international business at ITESM (Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey), where she received an MBA. She also did postgraduate work in France.

Castillón worked with the chamber of commerce of Nuevo León state, where Monterrey is located, helping local industrial companies develop new markets. For over two years, she was a promotions manager for the U.S. Agency for International Development, promoting joint ventures between Mexican and U.S. companies.

“I went to the United States and explained to companies there why they should invest in Mexico,” Castillón said.

Castillón, who always has loved art and design, got started as an entrepreneur by creating a line of gold and silver jewelry in 1997. Two years later, she set up MAKA.

“We’ve developed into a company that offers a curated collection of home décor and lifestyle products,” Castillón said. “MAKA is my dream. I love art and I really love what I do, so I’m always looking for new ideas and opportunities.”


Business: MAKA Accessories & Artifacts, based in Mexico City, designs and sells luxury home décor, furniture, high-end fashion items and jewelry to professional decorators and designers. This woman-owned, small business works with artisans in Mexico and other countries to produce original designs in home furnishings, apparel, wallets, purses and other items for women. MAKA’s customers are professional designers and decorators, as well as select boutiques, and the firm works directly on home, office and commercial projects with designers and clients. MAKA opened its Miami showroom and sales office in 2014 to better reach the United States market and other international markets outside Mexico.

Founder and CEO: Maricarmen Castillón.

Founded: 1999 in Mexico City. Castillón started developing her project earlier in northern Mexico by designing gold and silver jewelry.

Headquarters: Home office: Mexico City; U.S. showroom and sales office: 5802 Sunset Dr., South Miami.

Employees: Three in Miami plus sales staff; eight in Mexico City, plus a customer service center and artisan contractors who produce merchandise.

Customers: Professional designers, decorators, architects, boutique stores.

Website: and, both under construction.

Source: MAKA