Our Story

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

For the love of craftsmanship

Anna Suoheimo, the CEO and founder of SERA HELSINKI, lived in Ethiopia for five years. 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. She started designing rugs which would become SERA HELSINKI’s first collection with Finnish nature as the inspiration.

explore our rugs

Giving back

Anna wanted to create products that could give back to the country she loved. She started working with eight women who had been knotting rugs their whole lives. The beginning was difficult as the artisans lacked the skills required in making design rugs, such as using a tape measure. Anna herself didn’t speak Amharic and found a helpful partner from her driver and friend Abraham Hailemariam who acted as a translator. The initial steps of SERA HELSINKI involved lots of trial and error, but together they were able to create a process and minimalistic designs that our artisans could bring to life.

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Empowerment as a starting point

Anna officially founded SERA HELSINKI in 2016 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. SERA HELSINKI wants to show that these people are talented members of their communities and can create beautiful, sought-after products.

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It takes a team to succeed

As the founding women started training persons with disabilities in Ethiopia, we realized that the rugs could be made by including people with many types of disabilities, as every rug is a result of teamwork. If one person is sighted, she can lead those that might be visually impaired. Today, we work with hundreds of people with disabilities and the team is growing constantly. Our core team consists of people based in Finland and Ethiopia. With expertise and relentless approach, today we are able to employ over 300 people in Ethiopia.

read more about our process