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Say hello to the Finnish brand, Mainio. Mainio is pronounced “MIE-nee-o” and means “excellent” in Finnish. We’ve spoken with Outi Mäkinen, the head designer of Mainio to get to know the brand.

How did the idea for Mainio come around?

Johanna Vaissi, the co-founder and CEO of Mainio, had an idea of a new kind of kidswear brand with a strong focus on transparent and sustainable production and bold design. She asked me, Outi, to join the team from the very beginning, and together we created Mainio.

Can you describe the moment when you realised that this is what I’m meant to do?

I have loved drawing, sewing, and fabrics since I was a child. My mom remembers me asking for her to sew fabric pieces together when I was too little to be able to do it myself. So it has been clear to me that I wanted to be a designer since I was a child.
At first, when I started working for the fashion industry, I was more interested in womenswear. It was a real stroke of luck that I ended up designing kidswear. I realized it was so much more fun! You get to be a lot more creative with kidswear, and the feedback from kids is the best part of this career.

Who are the people behind the brand?

Our founder and CEO Johanna Vaissi, me, and our strong Mainio team in Helsinki, Finland.  

Where do you find inspiration? What inspired the latest collection?

My inspiration for the collections comes in most cases from our everyday life. What is important to me at that point usually gives inspiration. For example, the AW19 theme was a forest, which will always be the best place for me to recharge.
The current Early Bird collection is inspired by organic farmsteads. It is an homage to a natural way of life. It has lately become even more important to me to live as natural and chemical-free life as possible. Eating increasingly locally grown organic food is my current goal.
The theme of our upcoming spring and summer 2021 “Nothing but footprints” collection is ocean conservation. This theme is really dear to me. I genuinely believe that none of us is too small to have an impact. Every action matters. Our kids need to understand this as well. Together we can save the sea.

Describe your work with production and sustainability.

  • We want to treat our people and our planet with care and believe that our products are only as fair as the conditions that we give their makers. We know the factories and the makers of our products well. We are constantly in contact with the factories, and before these exceptional times, we have visited them regularly.
  • Our longest-term partner factory is Thai Exports in Tirupur, India. They are SA8000 certified. Mainio´s founders have known and worked with Thai Exports for almost two decades, long before Mainio was born, and we are proud to have grown a friendship with this family-owned factory. Today, we work with talented craftspeople in Finland, Ukraine, Estonia, and Lithuania.
  • All the cotton we use is GOTS certified organic cotton or recycled, and all the merino wool is mulesing-free. GOTS certified cotton is grown without chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides) and GMOs, and all stages of production are free from toxic and harmful chemicals. The certificate also requires safe working conditions and living wages.
  • We always choose the most ecological shipping method and packaging materials possible. Currently, we are working on packaging materials. 

Who’s the typical Mainio customer?

Our typical customers value personality, unique style, and sustainable clothing. 

What’s on your work desk, please describe it for us!

My primary tools are markers, paper, illuminated desk, scanner, and laptop. I draw most of the Mainio characters and patterns first by hand. I also work with fabric swatches and measuring tape a lot!

What are your favorite pieces from the current collection?

I have to say all the merino wool garments since I am so excited that we have finally found a reliable partner who can produce us these excellent, mulesing-free items. There is nothing better than soft merino wool against your skin. If you have not tried these merinos yet, you should – they will not itch!

Describe Mainio using three words!

Curious, sustainable, unique, mischievous. Oops, it’s four words already, we couldn’t decide!
Thank you Mainio and Outi!

Outi Mäkinen

Head Designer at Maino
Family: Husband and two boys, 3 years old and 5 years old
Instagram: @mainio_clothing