Born in Vigo, Galicia, on the north-west coast of Spain, exchange student Raquel Alonso Miranda was surprised by how many cultural similarities she shared with the Savonians — a subgroup of Finnish people who descend from the inhabitants of the historical region of Savonia.
“The Galicians and Savo people of middle Finland have similar traditions of craftsmanship and gastronomy,” explains Raquel. “There are even similarities in the way we speak!”
It was here, whilst studying clothing and textile design, that Raquel first developed a strong interest in Scandinavian design, in particular its inherent functionality.
“In Finland I was introduced to the principles of functional design and the work of Alvar Aalto,” a Finnish architect and furniture designer who pioneered innovative techniques for bending wood.
A brief goodbye
Imbued with new interests and a fondness for all things Finnish, upon returning to Spain, Raquel channelled this into her final postgraduate project — a collection of minimalist and functional bags. She named her project Moi moi.
“Moi moi means ‘bye bye’ in Finnish,” she explains. “It was the first Finnish word that I learnt.”
Three years later, upon completing an internship at a design company back in Finland, Raquel felt inspired to revisit the set of MoiMoi sketches she had prepared for her final postgraduate project.
Around the same time, she met and shared her work with Kalle Järveläinen, a Finnish graphic designer, and they agreed to combine their skills and transform those very first sketches into a business.
Raquel and Kalle officially founded MoiMoi in July 2010. While Raquel designs all of the company’s bags based on a combination of natural materials, minimalist geometry and functionality, Kalle is in charge of their digital branding, which is refreshingly candid.
Dedication to quality
MoiMoi design their bags in Helsinki and produce them using traditional vegetable-tanned leather and leathercrafting methods in Spain.
“We were recommended an experienced factory in Menorca, and when we visited them, we immediately recognised their dedication to leathercrafting and making durable products — it was the perfect match!” enthuses Raquel.
“Our mission is to produce locally and support smaller companies,” says Kalle. “We will always keep our production inside the EU to ensure we know everyone involved in the production chain.”
A decision was made early on to work exclusively with vegetable-tanned leather: “Since we started using leather, it was very clear to us that it had to be vegetable-tanned,” says Raquel. “It comes down to our core belief in traditional craftsmanship, sustainability and use of the highest quality materials.”
“There are far fewer suppliers specialising in vegetable-tanned leather than chrome-tanned,” adds Kalle. “When we were recommended a reputable Spanish supplier, we decided to visit them and found exactly what we were looking for.”
By choosing to use vegetable-tanned leather, MoiMoi ensure that each of their bags will develop its own rich patina. “Our philosophy is to buy fewer and better-quality goods that last a long time,” says Kalle. “Our bags age beautifully, making each one of them unique.”
Robust yet elegant
Raquel and Kalle believe that MoiMoi appeals to those with a taste for clean, elegant lines without sacrificing functionality.
“We make designs that are robust yet elegant and minimalistic — suitable for urban life, like ours in Helsinki,” says Raquel.
She adds, “Our practical and timeless goods are made to last and grow with you, carrying all the stories of your life,” and more.