Yasmin Sabet: where to shop in Cartagena

Yasmin Sabet is the Colombian-Egyptian designer behind the accessories and homeware brand, Mola SASA, which works hand-in-hand with Colombian artisans to breathe new life into their techniques and native natural resources. From the intricate and vibrant fabrics hand sewn by the indigenous Kuna communities, to the handwoven textiles lovingly crafted by the people of Cesar, Sabet’s nurturing of these “molas” affords her a unique understanding of Colombian creativity. Here, she shares with us her insider insight for shopping in the stunning city of Cartagena.

So I love walking and I love shopping, which can be a dangerous combination, but it serves me perfectly while in the beautiful city of Cartagena. I live in Bogotá, but Cartagena has a special place in my heart, not least because you can lose hours wandering around the labyrinthine streets, dipping into stunning local boutiques and craft shops. The city has a way of taking you where it wants to, leading your senses from one colourful plaza to the next. I always like to walk from the Santa Teresa hotel through the Plaza de Bolívar towards the Hotel Santa Clara, by the old town walls or through the side streets. One of the first stops is the stunning Museo de la Inquisición (muhca.gov.co), which was built in 1770 and was the former seat of the Catholic church’s Court of the Inquisition. It houses an incredible collection of historical artefacts from pre-Colombian times to the present day. 

Artesanías de Colombia

From the museum, continue down the Calle del Estanco del Tabaco and stop inside Artesanias de Colombia (artesaniasdecolombia.com.co) for a wealth of stunning local artisanal crafts. It does an incredible job of celebrating the hugely talented artisans here, and you’ll be able to find some stunning textiles and decorative objects for your home. A stone’s throw away is Loto del Sur (lotodelsur.com), which creates the most amazing natural soaps, scents, creams and oils. The smell of the store alone is enough to keep you in there.

Then the retail therapy comes thick and fast! Casa Chiqui (en.casachiqui.com) in Getsemani is brilliant for a selection of local items, especially its wonderful “mochilas” which are colourful handwoven bags that it sources from different parts of the country. I love its textile collection as well, plus it also has clothing from around the world that is perfect for resortwear: think tunics, kaftans, that sort of thing. 

St. Dom (stdom.co) on Calle de Santo Domingo is a wonderful concept store of Colombian design only and it is beautifully curated. From ready-to-wear and crafts to books and design objects, it’s a really eclectic representation of modern Colombian design.

For some of the more well-known Colombian brands, I would highly recommend Agua by Agua Bendita (aguabyaguabendita.com), which opened recently near the Hotel Santa Teresa. It has a lovely collection of dresses and bathing suits, as well as sarongs, most of which are handmade.

Silvia Tcherassi (silviatcherassi.com) is an icon of Colombian fashion and one of the country’s most globally recognised style exports, so a visit to her store on Plaza Santa Teresa is a must. She was awarded one of France’s highest honours in 2004 – the Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2008 she opened her first Tcherassi Hotel + Spa in Cartagena (she initially trained as an interior designer before moving into fashion). 

Mercedes Salazar (mercedessalazar.com) is another gem for fun jewellery and small accessories such as bags, while Cano Jewelry (canojewelry.com), which has been family-run since 1970, produces the most amazing jewellery inspired by pre-Colombian pieces. Think ornate gold chokers and Amazonian hoop earrings. 

And if, after all that, you still have some energy left, spend some quiet moments in Abaco (abacolibros.com) on the corner of Calle de la Iglesia. It’s a really great bookstore and café that you can quietly lose yourself in. 

Follow Mola SASA on Instagram: @mola_sasa; molasasa.com

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