Social Impact Fashion & Design | An Interview with “Mifuko” – Sustainable Design Homeware and Accessories brand made in Kenya

Today we sit down with Minna Impiö, co-founder of Mifuko, a brand who works a Helsinki-Nairobi-axis, creating vibrant jewellery, bags and homeware.

By Simona Campli | Sustainability Advocate
Contributor at ETHIKHA | Ghana Fashion & Design Week
2nd July 2015

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How, when and where did you set up Mifuko from its early beginnings?

Mifuko Ltd was founded by Mari Martikainen and me in 2009, both graduates of the University of Industrial Arts and Design, Helsinki. While the designs are done by Finnish artists they are inspired by the colours, textures and vibrancy of Africa.

What is your past before Mifuko and why did you decide to embark in this professional journey?

I´ve been working as a freelancer graphic and textile designer. Due to my husband work we moved to Kenya.

In the concept behind the label can you recognize some key values or specific business model that, in time, have shown to represent also key aspects for business success?

Mifuko is proudly new member of World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). Mifuko is following its 10 principles. We strongly believe that it will have a good impact for the sale also and Fair Trade in general.

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It is very inspiring how transparency and environmental practices are at the core of the way Mifuko works while also caring for the artisans and supporting talented emerging artists. It seems quite a perfect equation! Is there any other project you’re involved in the community you live or work with?

Mifuko has founded an organization called Mifuko Trust. At the moment Mifuko Trust is buying a cow for a self-help group working and living in the rural area of Kenya. The cow will give milk for the families and extra income for the ladies. The group is making baskets for Mifuko.

What are the sustainable practices your brand follows in its daily routine?

Our aim is to design products that last time in their design and quality. Products are finished using basic technologies that are consistent with traditional handcraft skills and which are low in energy consumption.

From where do you get on-going inspiration in your work with Mifuko?

Africa is our inspiration!

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Let’s make it personal, are there any specific events, sounds or places that represented key steps for Mifuko and its growth?

Here is a small story how we became to cooperate. Early in 2009, long bumpy and dusty road brought us to Kenyan countryside under a gigantic mango tree. In the shade a joyful group of ladies dressed in bright purple dresses were waiting for them.

Sun was burning from the top of the sky, while the group now expanded with two, discussed farming and handcraft, and planned together the work that was going to be the first collection of Mifuko baskets.

Which is the main reason in your opinion to build and promote a different and social innovative type of fashion and which are the steps the industry need to reach or complete in order to realize that?

We believe that the awareness of the customers is rising and people will demand ethically made fashion.

Many thanks for your collaboration!

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– Mifuko founders Minna Impiö and Mari Martikainen are both graduates of the University of Industrial Arts and Design in Helsinki, Finland’s southern capital.

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