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Ana Romaní is the creative mind behind Mulatta Rosa, one of the most eye-catching businesses in Cartagena de Indias. Photo: Courtesy
Ana Romaní is the creative mind behind Mulatta Rosa, one of the most eye-catching businesses in Cartagena. Photo: Courtesy Ana Romaní

Mulatta Rosa, innovation behind the traditional Caribbean handicrafts

This woman from Cartagena takes handmade mustard stone weaving to the next level with creations full of color and style.

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Ana Romani, better known in Cartagena, Colombia as Mulatta Rosa, is a woman who has taken a craft tradition beyond imagination with her hands. Wherever she goes, she is easily recognized, as usually wears a crown of showy flowers, large earrings and various bracelets, all made of beads. 

The weaving of beads is a typical Indigenous handicraft practice that consists of joining many colored nuggets with a transparent thread to give them a specific shape, either as an accessory or decoration. 

Ana, who is a public accountant by profession, has been dedicated to the craft for more than six years. Although her path there has been anything but smooth, today she is one of the most recognized artisans in the city thanks to her way of innovating with each product. 

The beginning of her journey as an artisan really came through Barbies, and she dreamed of having her first original doll. When she got it, she dedicated herself to customizing several outfits that caught the attention of her friends, who began to place personalized orders for her. 

"I started making dresses only for the daughters of my classmates, but word of what I was doing began to spread and grew," Ana told AL DÍA News. 

Today, dolls are still an important part of Ana's life, but most of her time is dedicated to Mulatta Rosa, a venture that has brought out her most creative and colorful side through traditional practice. 

"Mulatta Rosa is my full-time trade," mentioned the artisan, who also emphasized the value of her work because it not only allows her to express herself through each piece but also does the same for the clients who wear her products. 

In Cartagena, it is common to see traditional designs made of mustard clay, such as necklaces, earrings or woven bracelets. Ana not only makes these products, but imbues new designs for her earrings and necklaces with her "palenquera" insignia, which reflect the face of the matrons who walk through the historic center of the city selling fruit. 

In addition to accessories that adorn women in different ways, Mulatta Rosa has also entered a more complex artisan market by making handbags, collars and blouses with these small colored stones that attract so much attention. 

"I love being able to show myself as I am in all my splendor and that my products also convey that," the city's Mulatta Rosa told AL DÍA News. 

Her work has become a great reference among other artists, to the point that her designs have been copied to be resold by other people. 

"That someone else copies my designs means that I'm doing well, although I don't like to feel that my effort is for others to steal," mentioned the artist about the lack of respect that exists among those who dedicate themselves to the trade.

Thanks to her unique designs of Cartagena, its culture, colors and styles, the pieces Ana designs are admired at every event she attends. Those who have the pleasure of owning her pieces, take with them a product full of love and Caribbean tradition. 

For those interested in purchasing her products when visiting the 'Heroic City,' Ana is responsive on the page @mulattarosa on Instagram. She also appears an exhibition inspired by Gabo in-person at the Claustro de la Merced of the University of Cartagena and sporadically at the different fairs she attends throughout the year. 

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