Uupi has been shooting Mifuko's images since 2010 and has grown as a professional alongside us. We asked her to write about this experience from her own point of view and gather some of her favourite images.
I first heard about Mifuko in 2009 when Mari and I were working on the same theatre production. In conversation, Mari had spoken about the plans for Mifuko, which felt fascinating, bold, and appropriate to both my time and my own world of values. Shortly after that production, I started working on a professional qualification in photography which required a product photoshoot. I remembered the Mifuko conversation and contacted Mari and the first product photoshoot was held shortly after.
In 2011, Mari offered me the opportunity to photograph Mifuko's products on site in Kenya. At the time, her business partner Minna and family were living in Nairobi. Countless moments come to mind. The strongest of these was the joyous reception song the women of Machakos village sung, which was heard far away and made me, as the newcomer, feel downright royal. The women shone with joy and pride for the work they do, both weaving Mifuko’s baskets and cultivating the land.
A visit to the slums of Kibera was the powerful experience. As buttons were used in Mifuko's bags at the time, I visited the local blacksmith. A little scary, but it definitely enriched my perspective. Walking with him was safe and his work demo of making aluminium buttons was mind-boggling. In a small corner, which looked more like a stack of discarded goods, buttons were professionally processed from scrap metal collected from the street.
There are many memories to share about the trip to Kenya. Understanding Mifuko’s operations and their significance as well as a small touch of Kenyan culture remains the foundation of our cooperation.
Mifuko's early product family was not only appealing to me as an admirer of design crafts, there was an exceptionally wide range of different products, materials and shapes. Our collaboration has gone smoothly and has always been inspiring as my own freelance activities sought to move in the same direction as Mifuko's development.
While Mifuko's operations has grown and focused on the Kiondo collection, it was clear what to shoot as the images have a clear function. Lifestyle and product images form a whole that fulfils Mifuko's communication needs for different channels as well as the needs of resellers. Shooting days are intense. The location, products and models have been agreed in advance. Visual ideas are created during the day by working together and relying on a common vision.
The use of professional models has taken the descriptions a real leap forward and has also enriched my own work. It is difficult to name my favourite shots from over a ten year period. Model shots in Nairobi in 2011 and shots with Monica at the city theatre that emptied due to corona in 2021, I picked up from so many suddenly. Shown here are a few examples. The cooperation between Mari and Minna is exceptional and their desire to develop the activities of Mifuko and Mifuko Trust is admirable. We have all come a long way from where we started in 2010. It is good to continue with this.