Viola Sutanto is making a name for herself in the travel goods market—one sustainable bag at a time.
As the founder of MAIKA, she prints whimsical, hand-drawn patterns onto recycled canvas bags and home goods using eco-friendly pigment inks. She also crafts scarves from waste cotton. Her colorful bags, with easy-to-clean linings, vegan-leather trims, and price points under $100, have attracted the attention of Good Morning America, Real Simple magazine, and others and are sold in boutiques and stores worldwide.
Handbags are in Sutanto’s blood: She comes from an Indonesian family of luxury handbag distributors, but she wanted to create an affordable product.
“There should be bags—I call them tools—to help us move through the day with more ease and delight without having to worry about them as an additional, precious accessory that we have to take care of,” she says.
She launched MAIKA—which means “dancing flower” in Japanese—in 2014, initially focusing on wholesale distribution. But in 2018, she optimized her website to accommodate B2C customers as well.
“When the pandemic hit, we had everything in place to scale,” she says. “That year, we grew our e-commerce business by 800%.”
Besides sustainability, MAIKA promotes thoughtful deeds. An organization employing adults with disabilities handles MAIKA’s fulfillment, and a portion of proceeds benefits charitable organizations.
Meanwhile, Sutanto strives to consistently communicate the idea of the “dancing flower,” which she says personifies the brand’s spirit. “It’s joyful when people hold our products in their hands,” she says. “They feel delighted.”