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Behind the brand with Mayamiko

Published: 15-09-2022

This Secondhand September, we’re thrilled to be growing our community of brand partners by welcoming Mayamiko to OWNI’s ecosystem. Mayamiko is a responsible fashion brand fusing modern design and traditional techniques for a joyful, storied wardrobe. If you’re already a Mayamiko customer, your past purchases are waiting in your digital wardrobe to be reworn or resold. Soon-to-be customers can shop pre-loved Mayamiko, including one-of-a-kind gems.

We caught up with founder Paola to go behind the brand…

Meet Paola, the founder of Mayamiko

When did you found Mayamiko?

I started Mayamiko The Label in 2015, although we didn’t get properly going until a little while later. It all started as an experiment to see if we could create a brand that would put people and planet at its core, and also be commercially sustainable. Our main mission was to support women in Malawi, where we produce our main product ranges, and break out of the aid-dependency cycle. Over time we have grown geographically and in size, partnering with artisan groups in places as diverse as Italy, Sri Lanka, Peru, Ethiopia, Zambia, South Africa and more.

What makes Mayamiko different from other fashion brands?

With women empowerment at our heart, our styles are designed for joy and longevity, with clever wraps and ties to adapt to changing bodies. Not only that, our clothes are made by women tailors and makers who support a community of over 100 people, and in 2021 we created around 23,000 hours of dignified and well paid work in Malawi alone.

The work of our sister charity, The Mayamiko Trust, completes our commitment to women empowerment, including training in tailoring and sewing (200+ graduates to date) and entrepreneurship and microfinance (300+ to date) and donating over 2000 kits of reusable menstrual pads. By empowering disadvantaged women to start their own businesses or continue working for the brand, Mayamiko is able to lift women out of poverty and towards a better future.

What does circularity mean to you?

Growing up in Italy with two grandparents who were tailors, the concept of waste or linear use was never part of my world view. So it feels like it’s always been there for me and for Mayamiko, and now it’s coming more to the fore, which is great.

Circularity is also something that our teams in Malawi have always practised: nothing gets wasted, everything is useful and everything has value. We have really taken this to heart, starting from designing for maximum fabric usage, but also intelligently constructing garments so they can easily be taken apart, mended, transformed or recycled.

We weave circularity into everything we do, from our zero-waste design approach, made-to-order model, recyclable and compostable packaging, zero marketing, and use of environmentally sound fabrics, to embracing circularly through rental and resale partnerships, which are constantly evolving.

Why is Mayamiko joining OWNI?

We are excited to launch our resale store to give our community a chance to benefit from reselling their Mayamikos. We know our clothes are built to last, so this is a great way for them to change hands and last even longer! It’s also exciting to join a community of likeminded brands who are as committed to putting people and planet first.

What are you selling on OWNI?

We have a few one-offs and last in stock and we might add a couple of press samples soon. This is a great chance to grab a bargain, so buy them while you can!