I would sit next to my grandmother for hours watching her create gorgeous textiles, changing colored threads on needles, moving in repetition, stitching and crocheting her way to completion. When I heard about Hibiscus Linens, I quickly started following its stitchin’ leader Mariana Barran on Instagram (@hibiscuslinens) and would daydream about attending one of her classes. Last month I finally carved out the time.
Just off Bartlett St., Mariana’s larger-than-life spirit occupies a small space used as a showroom and workshop where she runs Hibiscus Linens. Although Mariana started sewing in second grade, it wasn’t until fairly recently that she realized her hobby could be her career. About four years ago, she relocated from Australia to Houston and shares, “I started dating my now-husband, and a girl who worked with him, from Montgomery, Alabama, sent me an invitation to her baby shower. I thought it was very nice because she had never met me and invited me. So I hand-crocheted her two baby blankets and sent them to her. She didn’t send me a thank you note; she called me and was like ‘This is beautiful – where did you get these?’ And I said I made them. And she said, ‘What do you mean you made them? You need to sell these.’ She was the one that made me realize that people didn’t know how to do it.”
It was this unknown girl who set Barran on the path she’s on today. Hibiscus Linens started three years ago with a private collection, and as people became more and more aware, Mariana kept hearing the same response: “This is such a lost art, you need to teach it.” So she approached Biscuit (the home store), with the idea of hosting a class. “Thirty-two people signed up for that first class and that’s when I knew people WANTED to learn,” she says. Barran continued honing her skill, teaching classes that paired well with each store, like French monogramming at Back Row Home, Otomi at Birch & Mercantile and eventually the request for classes grew, leading to Hibiscus Linen’s space. Classes range in size from 4–8 students. She also travels to seven or eight different cities each year, training about 300 new craftspeople.
Most companies use old-school techniques to create their textiles that no one knows and they won’t share their art. Hibiscus not only sells and creates her own collections, but Barran teaches these old-world techniques, making them modern again. Mariana loves seeing everyone adapt her teachings to their needs. “This girl is working on cocktail napkins using ducks, and another is working on bee hive blankets for a pair of twins. Once the techniques are out there, they can become whatever people need them to be.”
To learn about her classes, visit her website www.hibiscuslinens.com.