Some may think that Maruja is another way of saying my name, "Maria," but it is not. To understand its meaning and significance in my life, we have to dig deep and take you to Quito, Ecuador. Growing up, my sister and I would travel down south, where we would spend two months of joy with my mother's family. As a first-generation American, I am truly grateful to my parents for allowing me to learn about where my family comes from.
So "Marujita" was my great aunt, and she was the kindest, most devoted to making crafts that brought joy to everyone, she was also an amazing tailor, I actually have a peacoat she had made for my mother back when she was a teenager, and it is phenomenal. I remember being terribly jealous that my cousins got to have her help them out with their art presentations. My uncles bought lots of magazines; she would recycle each inch of paper by cutting and sorting each piece into different categories to use later. The collages she made with these were so beautiful; they really made an impacted in my life. Every year I couldn't wait to see her special room, where I would admire all her hand-knitted sweaters, her intricate crochet, custom made skirts, and blouses. Not to mention, she always had a new token made for us, like warm hand-knitted hats and sweaters for the winter. She was never married, no children, just pure love. She outlived all her immediate family and was the safe keeper of all the children, along with my grandmother.
Here is a picture of Marujita and I in one of our visits to Ecuador in 1989.
She made both the sweater she is wearing and the one I am wearing too.
Maruja NYC was born after her passing in 2010, I used this as a way to preserve the legacy of my Great Aunt, Maria Esther Carrillo, AKA "Marujita" as a way to keep her close, inspiring me to create beautiful things that come from the heart. To this day, she is the reason I will never give up on doing what I love.