Our Story

SERA HELSINKI was born from love for handcrafting and design. It has its roots in Ethiopia, practicality and empowerment.

Anna Suoheimo, the CEO and founder of Sera Helsinki, lived five years in Ethiopia. She  and her children fell in love with the country and its people. Anna loved to work with the local  artisans. The nights of Addis Ababa are cold and together with the artisans she made woolen rugs for her own home. During that time her children were toddlers and spilled everything on the rugs. Anna was amazed that the wool was so easy to keep clean, even a white rug under the dining table. During that time, Anna started drawing the first collection that was inspired by Finnish nature. She also wanted to create products that could give back to the country she loved.  

Anna started working with eight women, who had been knotting rugs their whole lives. The  beginning was difficult as the artisans lacked some of the skills required in making design rugs such as using a tape measure. Anna herself didn’t speak Amharic and found a partner from her driver and friend Abraham Hailemariam who acted as a translator. The beginning steps of Sera Helsinki involved lots of try and error,  but finally we were able to create a process and minimalistic enough designs that are possible for our artisans to bring to life. 

Anna officially founded Sera Helsinki in 2016 and Abraham started his own business in Ethiopia. From the very beginning we knew that we wanted to work with the most vulnerable groups in Ethiopia.  Every fifth person living in extreme poverty has a disability. Disabilities are also highly stigmatized in many African cultures. We wanted to show that these groups are talented members of their communities and are able to create beautiful, sought-after products. As the eight women started training  persons with disabilities in Ethiopia, we came to realise that the rugs can be made by including people with many types of disabilities as every rug is a result of teamwork. If one person has vision, she is able to lead the ones that might be visually impaired. Today, we are working with several hundred of persons with disabilities and the team is growing constantly. 

Our aim is to improve the living standards of the most vulnerable groups in Ethiopia