GRANDMA HARRIET

  • Jonit Mata
  • 19 Sep, 2014

It was a year ago yesterday that my grandma, Harriet, passed away at age 98. The last 3 years of her life I was lucky enough to spend a great deal of time with her in my hometown of San Diego. At that time my family realized that she was unable to live on her own anymore, but instead of moving her into an assisted living facility, we decided it would be best if we took turns living with her in her own apartment. Thank goodness Mata Traders offered me the flexibility of working from home (my grandma’s home).

Me and grandma in our matching Mata skirts

There are so many aspects of my grandma that I now see in myself: a love of art, a passion for travel, a concern for social justice – she earned a master’s degree in social work from Smith College in 1938! Even in her retirement she kept her mind and spirit active, taking classes at UCSD and learning to paint watercolors. When I would stay with her, every morning I’d read her the New York Times and every afternoon she’d listen to audiobooks – mainly histories and biographies.

The time I spent living with her was always a very calm and relaxing time for me, in large part because I found her apartment to be comfortable, warm, and cheerful. I absolutely loved her style. It was classic and eclectic, not drawn from any one period, but assembled over a lifetime. After she died last year, almost all of her furnishings and possessions were passed down to me, including the chair she nursed my father in, the throw pillows she needlepointed in the 70s, and all of her clip-on earrings. And, I’ve recreated her beautiful apartment here in Chicago.

I wanted to show you some shots of her apartment, but I recently lost my phone and the trillions of pictures I took of her place. I’ve got these old photos that, at some point back, I color-copied and they turned out kinda psychedelic – but I like the effect.

When it came time to shoot our Fall ’14 catalog last winter, it occurred to me that my new apartment would be the perfect backdrop. Our silhouettes are vintage-inspired, right out of my grandma’s style era, and she always loved a bit of color just like we do.

See a little more of the apartment in our F14 catalog Behind the Scenes post. Check out how the catalog turned out, too!

Grandma Harriet and her mother Augusta who went by Gussie

We dedicated our Fall ’14 collection to our grandmothers, and all the Mata staff brought in old photos to put in the catalog. It was so fun and inspiring to hear their stories and see their fashion. So fun, in fact, that we wanted to share the experience with our Mata community. Last week we created an album on our Facebook page entitled Gorgeous Grandmas, and we’ve invited people to send us photos of their grandmas to post there. At the end of the month, the photos with the most ‘likes’ will win a special prize. The photos below are a couple of my favorites in the contest so far.

Do you have an old photo of your grandma as a stylin’ young woman? Send it to Katie[at]matatraders.com and she’ll post it in the Gorgeous Grandmas album.

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