Why Mia Malia?


Kolkata, January 2012:  Malia was brought to the local women’s shelter of the missionaries of charity after being found naked at the main train station, covered in cigarette burns and bruises. The frightened young girl with the black short hair had no expression in her face and did not even dare to talk. Nobody knew where she came from or what had happened to her. 
Over the next weeks we became friends – slowly first, then faster. She was smiling more often and integrated well in the group. Seeing how Malia built up strength and found joy again after all she assumably has been through, impressed me deeply.

Malia & the women in Kolkata with founder Sabine Baresch

But hers is not the only story. She was just one of the many women at the shelter with painful backgrounds and histories. And yet, what stuck out most was not the scars and bruises but the energy and lust for life of the women there.

Volunteering in Kolkata was and still is one of the most defining times of my life. Malia and all the other women in the shelter taught me a lot about enjoying life, being strong and carrying on no matter what. When coming up with the idea of founding my own fashion brand more than four years later, I knew immediately I wanted to have it connected to India and the amazing women in this country.

MIA MALIA’s aim now is to empower rural Indian women by providing them a fair chance to work and earn their own living under proper working conditions. With every item you purchase, you are directly enabling our women artisans to raise themselves and their children to a life of self-respect and strength.

Sabine Baresch, Founder of MIA MALIA



Why women's empowerment?

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  • Indian women - especially outside the 3 big cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore - are one of the most marginalized populations in the world. Even today, they face discrimination, almost no possibilities for education or work, and unpoliced violence in their daily lives.

  • Educating and empowering women may well be the highest-return investment for the developing world, according to Laurence Summers, former Chief Economist of the World Bank.

  • Greater work opportunities for women directly raise economic productivity and national GDP growth.

  • Women tend to invest 90 percent of their earnings back into the health, nutrition and education of their families. Increasing women’s financial capabilities helps long-term prosperity for households, families and communities. Investing in women directly helps future generations.  


The tradition of dhurrie weaving

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For centuries, dhurries, the flat-woven rugs, have been a highly popular floor covering across all of India. Being typically handwoven on big looms in the artisan’s home through a method that dates back to the ancient India, this artistic heritage has been passed on within families for generations. But the charm of the dhurrie not only lies in its traditional beauty and painstaking workmanship: as a legacy of love, they were traditionally woven by young women as a precious part of their dowry. Dhurrie weaving is still an important source of income for the rural population in the northern parts of India.

The dhurries used for MIA MALIA bags are manufactured with the highest quality material – the cotton is sourced from India itself, is then hand-spun and hand-dyed before being woven into the delicate rugs. The weaving of one rug usually takes around 20 days with two women working on it at the same time. As the rug’s quality depends on the thread counts per meter, our artisans use the highest possible number of threads in order to make the dhurries most durable and beautiful.