Getting to Know Fernanda Miranda: Founder of Seva Soulmade
The last stop of 3 months in India was Varanasi, the ancient city far up north situated along the Ganges river. Varanasi was magical in so many ways; the colors, the narrow maze-like streets, temples that have lived many lifetimes and of course the delicious food.
One day walking along the Ganga I saw a cute looking cafe at the top of the ghat (stairways down to the river that are used for different purposes) and my friend and I stopped in for a little respite from the chaos of Varanasi. Finding a chill spot where you can watch life go by was a must. Varanasi also known as “Banaras” or “Kashi” is the oldest known continuously inhabited city in the world and is full of mysteries and rituals that are fascinating to observe. It draws many creative and spiritual types of people to its sacred sites.
At this little cafe, named The Green Terrace (sadly since closed due to the pandemic) is where I met Fernanda, a Brazilian expat who had been living in Varanasi. Fernanda is one of those souls I felt instantly connected to. Her warmth and kindness was captivating and she lit up when telling us about her plant based cafe and the small curated eco shop attached that she started with her business partner. Talking about all things travel and India, I didn’t yet know that Fernanda had another incredible talent.
Later that evening across town at a different cafe for dinner, I couldn’t help but notice all these amazing macrame pieces hanging on the walls as well as macrame plant holders. I was amazed at the precision of the knotting and the mere size of some of the pieces. My friend and I couldn't stop talking about the artwork and literally minutes later Fernanda serendipitously walked in. We had no idea that our new friend was the one who handmade all the pieces in there that evening. She told us about her work and the rest was history. I knew immediately that once we had Post Surf up and running, her pieces had to be in the collection.
Our third and final installment of Artisan Collection 001 is hand macrame bags by Fernanda Miranda of Seva SoulMade. All of her work is custom, so you will never see a repeat anywhere else. She designed each of these five styles to represent Post Surf and we were beyond stoked to see the final product. We were able to chat about inspiration, India, and the cafe where we first met so without further ado, meet Fernanda, artisan behind Seva Soulmade.
Tell us a little bit about where you’re from and when did you first learn to macrame?
I was born in Belém, Pará, north of Brazil, a city known as the doors to the Amazon Rainforest. After living for 5 years in Rio de Janeiro, I moved to Portugal, where I attended my first macrame workshop in 2017, by Diana Cunha from Oficina 166 , one of the most talented textile artists of Portugal. Since then, I haven't stopped! Macrame became a very important practice on my self-knowledge path, opening space in my life for many precious moments diving within and also changed the course of my professional career towards an authentic expression of myself.
We love the name of your business! Tell us about the meaning of the word “Seva” and its significance to you?
SEVA is Sanskrit for selfless service as a form of personal and spiritual development. Embodied by the root words "saha" and "eva", which combined mean "together with", SEVA is the bridge between human action and the Gods in the art of serving from our hearts. I was deeply touched by the meaning of this sacred word since the first time I heard it during my visit to Rishikesh in 2018. "Seva" explains exactly how I feel when I am creating as I transmute plain cotton cords into macrame patterns with my own bare hands in what I see as a direct connection to the divine; the infinite power that nurtures us deep down in our souls and gives meaning to material manifestation in this human existence. Of course techniques are needed for carrying out this kind of work, but I believe anyone who is in touch with creativity in genuine self-expression can feel that magic happening inside. There is something in the interaction between our heart and our hands that goes beyond any rational explanation possible when we are creating, capable of transforming the way we look at ourself and the whole world around us.
"There is something in the interaction between our heart and our hands that goes beyond any rational explanation possible when we are creating, capable of transforming the way we look at ourself and the whole world around us."
Outside of your macrame art, you have another exciting business: The Green Terrace - a plant-based cafe and curated shop in Varanasi. Can you give us the background of your journey to being an expat business owner and what was your vision and inspiration for the cafe + what drew you to India ?
Uuuuhhh so much to say here! I heard the call from mama India after going through some personal challenges in 2018. I had decided to invest in macrame professionally and organized a trip to India on collaborative tourism through Workaway , aiming to finally be able to fully explore my creativity working on much more significant pieces. After arriving in Delhi, Varanasi was my first stop and it had my heart since day one, so I just couldn't say no when the opportunity of a longer stay came up.
My initial plan was to open a small studio where I could also have a space for teaching macrame to the housewives of the neighborhood who are forced to stay at home, taking care of the house, children and elderly, mostly because they accept it as their duties as women and are not able to question their role in the patriarchal society they are inserted in. After finding the location on my first search, it took me a short time to realize I wasn’t ready to deal with the implications this kind of social work would have, so I took a step back and allowed everything to happen organically. That's the thing about India, especially Varanasi - if you surrender and flow with the madness, things can happen effortlessly if they are aligned to your purpose. The more you resist the chaos and want to hold on to control, the harder it gets.
Of course I couldn't have done it alone! I had simply the best business partner by my side and a restless team backing me up, plus additional random help by many clients who visited and were touched by our spirit and wanted somehow to participate. Not to mention the always present solid support of my sister and mom, even if at long distance.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we had to close our doors at Shivala Ghat, but the sweet memories and moments we have shared over vegan masala chai and Sri Ganga's blessings will never be forgotten, until comes a new time to materialize this dream once again, anywhere else in the world.
Do you feel that there is a connection between your two businesses (the green terrace and seva soulmade) and/or how do they influence each other?
I took my first steps into organic living around late 2015, when I started to become aware of how our small daily choices can have such a huge impact on our planet. After moving to the countryside of Portugal, I gradually became more conscious about absolutely everything I was consuming and feeding my mind & body with - I stopped watching television, reduced consumption of sugar & alcohol, changed my sources of nutrition, etc. Later I took an Ayurveda course and could finally see that food is medicine, we just need to learn what and how to eat according to our specific needs.
Entering the macrame world made me connect even more to this living organism we call Earth, as I could experience being part of it without leaving harmful waste or damages. The Green Terrace was meant to be an inviting place to present this reality to other people by serving healthy comfort food and sustainable & organic alternatives for daily life.
I strongly believe that as consumers, we can change the world just by choosing wisely which kind of businesses we want to finance. When we buy something, we are saying “I believe in you and support your idea” and we manifest prosperity to whatever is intended by the business owners since money is just a monetization of our time and energy. Consuming is a political act and can also be a collective revolution.
"I strongly believe that as consumers, we can change the world just by choosing wisely which kind of businesses we want to finance. When we buy something, we are saying “I believe in you and support your idea” and we manifest prosperity to whatever is intended by the business owners since money is just a monetization of our time and energy. Consuming is a political act and can also be a collective revolution"
What is your favorite part of your job? How do you source your materials?
Free intuitive creation on pieces that integrate the space is what makes my heart beat faster. A custom curtain to give that privacy to the living room, a shelf wall hanging for displaying, a special bibelot in the entrance hall, etc... This kind of work not only allows me to improve my knotting abilities, but also tunes my sensibility to capture the need of the environment I am in.
My ropes are mostly locally sourced or at least nationally. In fact, one of the reasons Varanasi had me hypnotized was the wide range of organic ropes available in the local market. Such an amazing variety of colors and materials! One of my wildest memories was entering a huge heritage house that was turned into a warehouse with hundreds of different ropes of all kinds inside. The salesman had to climb a pile of bundles to reach the one I wanted on top. Indian style at its best!
What most inspires you to create and where do you draw inspiration from?
Lately I have been very much inspired by the exquisite nature that surrounds us here in the Amazon. Large tropical leaves are starting to be my #2 obsession for wall decoration. Other than that, architecture details, my own previous pieces and many works from amazing artists all over the world are my source for inspiration. Belen Sera , Roth Azulik and Biche are some of the artists that I look up to. I can also count on the amazing community that I built three years ago , Comunidade Macrame , where macrame makers share a lot about the struggles we face in the art-craft world and find mutual support with each other.
Are there any exciting projects that you are currently working on?
I am so happy to be launching my new macrame collection this year in my home country for the first time. It will be presented at the shop that I have been working on side by side with my beloved sister Carol called Prana Tropical ; a place full of organic & ethically sourced Brazilian products inside a cultural heritage building in one of the most charming neighorboods in Belém called Reduto.
Any piece of advice you want to leave with our readers?
It is perfectly natural to live a life others do not understand. Our hearts have reasons that are incomprehensible for the mind. Follow your heart courageously ♡
Shop Post Surf x Seva Soulmade Hand Macrame Bags
Check out Fernanda's instagram to see more of her work