Nestled away in the wooded outskirts of Tallahassee is the headquarters of Anhaica momma Marina Mertz. Her workshop is a neatly organized homestyle artist bunk, filled with waxed-canvas, bikes, antique sewing machines, rivets, production tables, tools, screen printing supplies, crystals and comfort. Her bags require meticulous detail and tedious personal attention, and come made with unquestionable love- the kind that no assembly line factory could produce. With high demand for well-crafted and practical bike bags, Marina has mastered this with her own unique style. The number of (wo)man-hours put into each bag is just as rewarding for Marina, as it is the one who'll be wearing it.
We got the chance to visit Marina at her studio and see her in action. She talked to us about her passion for community engagement, thoughtful craftmanship, and the past, present, and future of Anhaica bags.
So thinking about why I started Anhaica always leaves me a bit confused and thinking in circles, I don't think I ever really intended to start a business. I know I had no clue what I was getting into. While finishing up the last semesters of college in Environmental Studies and Urban Planning, I started helping with a gallery space and selling various goodies at First Friday, a monthly event at our local art park. My offerings were eclectic to say the least, handmade lip balm, skirts, notebooks, pillows...I sold to supplement my income and because I loved creating. During this time I started reaching out to my community more, volunteering at the food co-op and the community bike shop. I fell in love with bikes again and fell in love with an amazing man who has more drive, creativity and passion than anyone else I know. Anhaica was born out of that time.
Anhaica allows me to follow my passions with minimal sacrifice, I have a flexible schedule that lets me volunteer at organizations I love and I get to think about bikes and sewing all day!
I am passionate about community and family, growing eating and preserving food, bicycles and the handmade. For me none of those exist without the other. As silly as it sounds, I believe bicycles can save the world. I hope that I am playing my part in creating a world where people are riding bikes, saying hi to neighbors, shopping at community grocery stores, where growing up doesn't mean losing the joy of an afternoon ride, where they see the direct impact that the money they spend has on their community. It might just seem like a bag company but maybe- hopefully a bag could change the way someone thinks, that if they can carry groceries home comfortable they will, if they can go from bike to office they will.
I hope to see Anhaica expanding by having a larger selection of bags, I have so many designs just waiting to be made! I do ship internationally, my bags are way more cultured than I am! It is so exciting to send a bag off to a place you can only dream of visiting one day. I would also love to see Anhaica grow so that it can be a full time job for 2-3 people, I am hopeful that in the future we will be a worker owned business.For me crafting is just about doing what feels right. When I started making bags I knew that I didn't want to work with a lot of synthetic materials, I couldn't find out what was in a lot of commercially available waxed canvas so I knew I needed to make my own, I taught myself how. I experimented with a lot of waxes and oils. I researched and thought a lot about my values. I knew that I wouldn't be ok with GMO monoculture soy wax. What ended up being available for me that fit my values was beeswax. Even though I disagree with commercial bee keeping on a large scale, I was able to find a small local supplier that had a multi-generational business. He doesn't truck his bees around and I know that he loves them. Tupelo honey is only found in this part of the world, so I get it share a little bit of the south with anyone that gets my bags. That just felt right, I knew it was what I needed to be doing with my bags.
Words by Marina Mertz