Online boutique Mapachas focuses on eco-friendly goods

When Heather Soussou-Brady got laid off from her job in the steel industry during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, she got to work crafting handmade fabric masks and selling them at local craft markets. Inspired by the support for small businesses she saw and knowing that being pregnant with twins might make attending future markets difficult, the Lakewood resident two weeks ago launched a new venture: Mapachas, an online boutique packed with eco-friendly housewares, apparel, and more.

Heather Soussou-Brady recently launched Mapachas, an online boutique packed with eco-friendly housewares, apparel, and more.“I always had a bigger picture in mind and after going to the markets, I was like, it would be really cool if we could offer a website that all these people could be a part of,” says Soussou-Brady. “It's giving all these makers that are super talented an outlet and a place that they can put their products in and not have to worry about all the little stuff.”

Mapachas doesn’t solely carry locally-made products (although a large portion of them are local), but aims for what Soussou-Brady calls “conscious consumerism”—focusing on goods that are mostly sourced from the U.S. and are fair trade, eco-friendly, cruelty-free, or ethically sourced in some way. Even the Mapachas packaging is biodegradable and the thank-you notes that come with each order are plantable, containing wildflower seeds.

The result is a mix of goods—including Ohio-made baby onesies by Little Apple Apparel, soaps and candles by Lakewood-based Rebel Alchemy, reusable beeswax food wraps (to replace plastic wrap), and reclaimed-wood serving utensils made by Guatemalan artisans who bolster their communities by using the proceeds to create educational programs for their children. 

“It’s important because nowadays everything is throw away and buy again,” says Soussou-Brady. “Working with the community this past year, I've realized how important it is to get back to basics and shop locally and really think about what you're wasting. Because we really only do have this one planet.”

Mapachas aims for “conscious consumerism”—focusing on goods that are mostly sourced from the U.S including local products.Unlike a lot of eco-friendly boutiques, Mapachas (which is Swahili for “twins”) has fairly low price points too—with handcrafted, wheel-thrown stoneware planters for $20 and made-in-the-USA leggings for $32. The price points were a conscious decision, according to Soussou-Brady.

“I wanted to keep it where it was kind of mid-grade, where people can shop and not have to break the bank,” she says. “Because shopping consciously and with intention doesn't have to be expensive.”

Even though Soussou-Brady just launched the website, and she is still in the beginning stages of seeing what works with her new business, she’s already looking to the future. Drawing on years spent working in retail prior to her steel industry job, she’s looking forward to growing Mapachas into a physical store—ideally in Lakewood.

“I already have dreams of opening up a brick and mortar,” she says. “I've always wanted to own my own shop. Having a community-based boutique would be so cool, where we could have all of our local makers and vendors all year round.”

Read more articles by Ilona Westfall.

Ilona Westfall is a Cleveland-based freelance writer. When she's not penning articles for a variety of Ohio publications, she's roller skating with Burning River Roller Derby, rolling d20s with her D&D group, or getting muddy in the woods. Follow her on twitter @IlonaWestfall.