Story of two friends
Mifuko was founded in 2009 by two Finnish designers, Mari Martikainen and Minna Impiö. Friends since studying Textile Art and Design at the University of Art and Design Helsinki, Mari and Minna are guided by their core values: being unique, joyful and socially responsible.
The idea of Mifuko was born amongst the colourful bustle of a market in Nairobi, Kenya. Minna lived in Kenya at the time, and her close friend Mari was visiting. They had become acquainted while studying textile design at Aalto University. As they wandered around the market they were amazed by the craftsmanship of the artisans selling their goods. Shortly thereafter in 2009, Minna and Mari founded Mifuko with a clear goal: combine Nordic design and traditional African handicraft skills to form a business that directly benefits the people of rural Kenya.
Today Mifuko is a successful Fair Trade company, and our work is ever more urgent. In Kenya, climate change has led to recurring droughts making farming, traditionally the primary source of income and sustenance, an unreliable foundation for a stable livelihood. The income artisans earn from Mifuko helps ensure families are fed and cared for when crops can no longer provide security.
In 2008 I was living in Kenya with my family when Mari came to visit. As we explored the markets in Nairobi, we were inspired by the handcraft skills of the artisans. We had an idea to combine our design skills with traditional techniques found in Kenya to create sustainable design with a personal twist.
I am grateful to have the possibility to build long-term relationships with the artisans and their self-help groups. For me, it is important that through Mifuko, we can create and design in a way that is sustainable and contributes positively to the world.
It’s been a great journey since Minna and I started Mifuko. We met for the first time in 1996 and studied together at what used to be called University of Art and Design Helsinki, now Aalto University.
Working with Mifuko is creative and fun! Our co-operation with different countries and cultures and of course, making a social impact are very important to me. I love continuously developing new designs with Minna and working closely with our talented artisans to test new materials and find new ideas. Materials, techniques and collaboration with producers and designers are my source of inspiration.
Joy of working together
Meeting with artisans is the most rewarding part of our work, seeing the work of hands and hearts. When we visit Kenya, we meet with the artisans to openly discuss where we have succeeded and where we need to improve. We also give the artisans the feedback we get from our customers which is truly rewarding for them. We also encourage artisans to tell us about their wishes and the challenges they face in order to improve our work together.