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Article: Artisans With Flair In Tropical Cartagena


Artisans With Flair In Tropical Cartagena


Last month, I traveled to Cartagena for a wedding. The humidity was heavy and intense, but the trip delivered an abundance of distractions from the heat through delicious ceviche, incredible scents, and beautiful handmade accessories. Wandering through the neighborhoods of the old city on a walking tour, the inspiration for Love In the Time of Cholera became more and more evident.

Here are some of my favorite stops and stores in Cartagena...

When it comes to Colombian perfume, I discovered NNT Lab - Slow Perfumery. My favorite scents were Santal Wood & Bergamote.

Another notable fragrance store was LOTO DEL SUR. I absolutely loved this store. All of the beauty products were natural, non-toxic, and were such unique blends (including a Colombian coffee and chocolate body scrub). Sadly, they don't ship to the US - so if you visit Cartagena - you absolutely must go. You can visit their website and see how incredible it is. 


Michú bags at St. Dom

When it came to seeing an array of gorgeous Colombian pieces- my favorite store was St. Dom. On top of Silvia Tcherassi & Agua Bendita, the store featured incredible handmade pieces by Priah Heritage (pieces all made in Colombia) and unique and colorful handbags from Michú (bags are made from fique / a hemp-like fiber).

And, aren't their fans so chic? 

fans at Agua De Leon

A few other notable spots: 

Agua De Leon - for beautiful Colombian jewelry, designers, and accessories. They have a lovely restaurant as well. At this shop, I fell in love with handbags by Verdi. The materials are completely unique and unlike anything I've ever experienced. This one was hand-woven in a mochila pineapple weave - each handbag can take up to 15 days to be knitted with metal threads. The company sells rugs and other items and has 45 in-house artisans at its atelier in Bogotá. Imagine a purse made of metal - that feels silky and is light - but is SO detailed.

My favorite find (and gift) from Agua De Leon was a pair of earrings by designer Ana Carolina Valencia - featuring raw Colombian emeralds (my birthstone). Aren't they just exquisite? She has the most gorgeous pieces.

Raw Colombian Emerald Earrings By Ana Carolina Valencia

Sāncte Cartagena - effortless linen pieces (like this dress) - and the fabric quality is excellent 

Soloi- for menswear, women, kids, and unisex pieces- very sharp cuts and colors

Silvia Tcherassi boutique,  Artesanías de Colombia

When it came to decor and design, the baskets and woven tabletop items were incredible (including placemats, handbags, and more). 

Three favorite spots for home decor (and baskets) in Cartagena: 

Artesenías de Colombia - this government-run company has supported Colombian artisans and their craft since 1964, you can read more about their mission (and see more of their products) here. In fact, they launched a program in 2015 to foster sustainable relationships between the fashion industry and more than 2,000 artisans across the country. You can learn more in The New York Times.

El Centro Artesano -  This boutique might have been my favorite for home decor. It was a collection of rooms and flowed like a gallery - filled with baskets, placemats, and other finds. It has a cafe as well. 

Casa Chiqui - a mix of fun furniture, jewelry, and other items. Definitely check it out - they have a selection of items on their website as well. 


breakfast at Casa Pestagua-  fresh tropical fruit and juice each morning

If you are looking for a spot to stay in Cartagena, definitely make it Casa Pestagua. It's a small boutique hotel (a renovated 17th century mansion) and has an ideal location. The staff is lovely and they truly make you feel right at home. 

And, order any and all things watermelon in Cartagena- you won't regret it.

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