Mélange Collection began 20 years ago and at its inception began its work globally. Bethany Therrien is the third owner and president of this successful enterprise that has two U.S. employees, and several artisan collectives in Peru, Armenia and Guatemala.
“Mélange Collection’s mission is to blend quality design with artisan craftsmanship. Our core principles are: quality, sustainability and a little bit of fun,” Therrien shared. “I hope that high-quality and whimsical fun is what customers think of when they think of us.”
Therrien explained that the company works with 40 artisans in Guatemala, 182 in Peru and 60 in Armenia to craft its ornaments. “These women have tremendous talent,” she said. “Their ability to make flawless ornaments and have them consistently all look alike is an amazing skill!”
She shared that it has worked with the same artisan groups for years and its name comes from working with “a mixture of different countries and it fits us well – we have a fun mélange.”
Primary product offerings include handmade holiday décor and gifts that include ornaments, stockings, pillows, children’s toys and pillows and Easter items. The artisans even produce knit dresses for Easter celebrations and this year Mélange has added Christmas dresses and sweaters.
“For the past several years, our crochet lambs, especially the white one, have been our best-selling product,” shared Therrien. “They are the perfect size and price point for baby gifts.”
Merchandise is handmade to “make customers smile while keeping a classic look.” Therrien will complement existing product with new items that fill a thematic void in its offerings. “For instance, right now, we don’t have a Santa pillow so I was inspired to develop one for 2021. This was such a fun project — we may end up having two Santa pillows next year,” she explained.
Her biggest goal is to create year-round work for Mélange’s knitters by expanding Easter and children’s offerings so there is no “down-time” throughout the year for the artisan collectives. “We were really close to hitting the goal this year and I think we will be there next year,” she said. This goal is important, as Mélange has worked with the same artisans for years and have developed lasting relationships.
This relationship involves Therrien conceiving initial ideas for merchandise. “I sketch it out to the best of my abilities with color codes about the yarn colors. Each artisan group creates their own patterns from that,” she explained. “I try to visit in person during the development part of each year. But, we found out this year, that we could pretty easily do sample revisions via photos and email exchanges. They all do an amazing job bringing a sketch to life.”
The artisans are much more than the creators of Mélange Collection’s offerings. They are housewives and the business relationship provides the women with an opportunity to work from home and still care for their children. “They are paid by the finished piece so there is a lot of schedule flexibility. I think this model supports women wonderfully and most were able to work even through the recent stay-at-home restrictions,” she shared.
The uniqueness and array of items is astounding and authentic, but even Therrien has some that are near and dear to her heart. “I have favorites for every season! My favorite of what is new for Holiday 2020 are the knit puppy ornaments holding stockings in their mouths. These turned out to have incredible personality,” she enthused.
Mélange Collections is committed to fair trade practices and utilizes its global scope to offer innovative designs as well as personal relationships with the artisans themselves. This symbiotic relationship shines through in the finished product that captures attention as it represents a timeless, handcrafted quality unique in today’s modern world