It was a trip to the Tod’s factory in Italy that spurred Jamie Leilani Pelayo to create Stories + Objects, a website devoted to showcasing the work of artisans from around the globe. Watching the cobblers at work, the founder of the commerce platform and production company (who has worked for the likes of Vogue and Sephora) was inspired to create a way to share similarly beautiful handcrafted objects alongside the stories of how they are made.
The result is a visual treat of a web store that is currently selling just 11 limited edition items (a new object will be added each month), the majority featured with a video of their maker speaking about their work – in his or her native language, with subtitles. The coarse sea salt ($75 for 250g), for example, is collected on Île de Ré by Brice Collonier and packaged in hand-thrown porcelain jars by ceramicist Roberto Carrillo, while the simple Basque espadrilles ($50) are handmade in the Mauléon studio of shoemaker Jean-Jacques Houyou. Not only are his jute, canvas and biodegradable rubber creations timelessly chic, but the story of their assembly and this small artisan business is both fascinating and moving. “It was important to honour each artisan’s true voice,” says Pelayo. “They all create sustainable luxury objects, and I hope that hearing their stories will help keep their traditions alive.”
Other objects include a cigar humidor ($150) designed by Marie Perrin-McGraw and Jacob Van Vranken, crafted in California from Spanish cedar and stone clay, and containing a hand-rolled cigar from the famous Pinar del Río region. Mayan cacao bars ($20), meanwhile, incorporate organic Criollo cacao, Mexican vanilla and Melipona honey from the Yucatán Peninsula; and cultured pearls sourced from the Unesco biosphere reserve of Fakarava in Polynesia are strung singularly onto black rubber string necklaces ($80). The video of the farmers who harvest these pretty orbs was, for me, the site’s most transfixing offering. “I grew up in Midwest America,” explains Pelayo, “so I wanted to make something that transports people and creates a souvenir of the journey.”