Call it love at first Instagram. Back in October, we connected with Tytti (what a great name), the founder of Mahla Clothing for a juicy online giveaway featuring one of her up-cycled bumbags packed with Tizz & Tonic goodies (maybe you participated to win?). We decided to band our small brands together because not only is her design work mighty fine, but because she has a steady commitment to working with sustainable textiles. Up-cycled. Re-loved. Organic & dead-stock. The whole sauce.
Tuck into this little interview with the founder of Mahla, find out what she does to create without excess waste... and why she frequents graveyards.
Let's get started. Tell us about you!
My name is Tytti and I’m the owner, designer and multi-tasking person of the brand Mahla Clothing. I’m born and raised in Finland but have been living in Denmark since 2013. I’ve been working with fashion and clothing for over a decade (wow, thinking this makes me feel kinda old! :D).
Can you tell us a bit about Mahla Clothing?
It’s a slow fashion brand, with urban vibe and a twist of the Nordics. Materials used are either organic, natural fibers or recycled, up-cycled or dead-stock. There is a lot of focus in choosing materials that have the lowest possible impact on the environment, and creating unique, high-quality products.
How would you describe the concept behind the brand? How did you get started and where does your passion for sustainability come from?
Sustainable values and ethics have been the brand core values from the very beginning. Mahla’s slogan “Handcrafted with respect for the Earth, animals and people” says it clear and short.
Since a young age I have always enjoyed making clothes and all the handcrafts involved to it. I absolutely love the whole process of creating garments; starting from an idea which is transforming from 2-dimensional shapes into a wearable piece. But while working in the fashion world and clothing production, I started to realize that I found it uncomfortable to work with materials and production methods that we’re not aligned with my own values.
So an idea of creating a brand based 100% on my values started to brew… I launched the brand in 2016. I’ve been into politics, social justice and environmental issues since 'pre-teenager'. So creating a brand based in these was kinda the obvious choice.
For your products, you focus on good quality, environmentally-friendly materials and fair production. Can you tell us how you source/produce your garments in more detail?
The organic fabrics come either from trusted and certified fabric supplies and manufacturers. Natural fibers are my first choice when choosing materials. There are so many amazing options out there, like hemp, organic cotton or linen, Tencel, cupro and modal.
Our production is fully made in the Northern Europe, either at own studio in Denmark or small, female-owned sewing ateljé in Tallinn, Estonia. The ladies working there are so talented, friendly and easy to work with. It’s important to me to know the people who are working in the production and be sure that they are treated with respect. I visit Tallinn several times a year (my favourite time of the year!) and also source a lot of dead-stock materials from a nearby factories there.
I still clearly remember my first meeting with clothing factory dead-stock; those huge piles of fabric made me feel so shocked. I feel that finding a new purpose for dead-stock materials is highly inspiring; while reducing waste material it’s possible to save resources as no new materials are produced, and you can create precious limited edition pieces from something already once was doomed to be leftovers and waste.
You are based in Copenhagen, Denmark. What is the ethical fashion community like there? Has it changed a lot since you started Mahla Clothing?
Yes, lots of changes are happening right now. More shops focusing on sustainable products are popping up. More and more people are waking up and starting to become more interested in sustainability and want to make more conscious choices. I can definitely sense a change in people’s attitudes regarding sustainable fashion; it’s not just some weird hippy-yadayada, but actually a real, interesting topic and a matter should be cared about.
The politics linked to our clothes are often underestimated. We all wear clothes, so what we wear actually matters a lot, and can make a big difference in favour of our society and environment.
What was one of the most important lessons you have learned since starting the company? This could be a personal thing or something you learnt about the industry that might have shocked or surprised you.
- Trust your gut feeling!
- Remember to ask for help; you cannot be an expert in everything! Stronger together.
- Don’t work with assholes, but only nice people you can trust and respect.
We are setting some personal goals for next year to try and have more balance in our lives. How do you find balance and what do you do for fun? :)
Oh damn, that’s the trickiest part of being an entrepreneur! There is work to be done all the time, and I struggle with finding a balance between work and private life as well. Also because your brand is almost like a baby, something you created from pure love and passion, and needs constant nursing, attention and development.
My best relaxing methods are taking long walks with my dog, going to a local public sauna. In general I find being in nature as one of the most effective stress-removers. Though, finding pure nature in a big city like Copenhagen is a bit of a challenge. I’ve found a pretty good solution; going to graveyards. There is calm, silent and plenty of green nature. Might sound gloomy, but I find it very relaxing!
Anything big coming up for Mahla that you want to share?
Yes! I just launched the new collection ! I’m so excited to share it. So stay tuned guys! :)
Editors pick: Phoenix Mini Bum Bag