Besides designing and producing beautiful handcrafted shoes and bags, Mioona has always followed another path, exploring traditional handicraft techniques and their development in Africa. Karamaloo, Mioona´s little sister, operates in Africa with a fair and joyful attitude using direct business-to-business contacts with talented handicraft creators.

“It all started with cow dung and building a biogas system for a rehabilitation community as a development study project in Tanzania. After shoveling clay and milking those beautiful animals I got to use my true skills a bit better. I started working with some amazing women learning how to weave raffia, dye and print textiles and develop new types of bags  for them to sell at the local market.

Half a year later I found myself in Uganda researching banana fiber´s potential use in shoe making in collaboration with Texfad Ltd. During the same trip, I heard about the Nile Perch fish skin leather. This led to a serious searching, assisted by my resilient driver and dear friend Asiimwe. It was almost a mission impossible, no leads, no maps and no contacts, but eventually the hard work payed off. On the shores of Lake Victoria on the Ugandan side, I was able to locate that tannery with a huge stock just there waiting for me. Lake Victoria is a water body shared by 3 countries: Uganda,  Kenya and Tanzania. It also happens to be the largest fresh water lake and source of the Nile… Story of another day. So in this lake, there is this humongous and exotic predator fish that was introduced into the lake and has since become one of the most leading employer and means of livelihood for those who live around the lake.When fish fillet is made, the skin is normally wasted and dumped…However, with time people have set up tanneries that are converting the skin into wonderfully colored leather. Having seen this, I became intrigued by this alternative natural material and  that is how the Fisu sneakers finally came into being.

This has lead to new collaborations in Kenya, Senegal and Ghana. And new ventures are being born.”

Mioona currently produces everything from baskets, tablecloths, art pieces to fashion and jewelry, all under the name Karamaloo, which means full moon in the Mandinka language.