Maika Makes Bags for the Rest of Us
An Oakland maker turns out functional canvas totes and buckets for multitasking people on the go.
Photo courtesy Maika
East Bay Made
Maika makes recycled canvas bags that are equally functional, stylish, and affordable. Hand-designed in Oakland by Viola Sutanto, the line offers everyday totes, crossbodies, duffels, backpacks, pouches, and storage buckets in a variety of eco-friendly pigments — from navy to colorful, graphic prints. Named after Sutanto’s daughter, Maika means “dancing flower” in Japanese. The moniker also conveys the delight and sense of play inherent in each bag’s conception.
A Haas School of Business grad, Sutanto made the jump from banking to design in the early 2000s. She left her Financial District job to attend the California College of Arts and got her start designing letterpress stationery and reusable fabric giftwrap inspired by Japanese Furoshiki wrapping cloth. Her love of fabric and interest in sustainable design led her to found Maika in 2014. Making bags runs in the Indonesian native’s family. For the past 40 years, her family’s business in Singapore has produced high-end luxury bags. With her own venture, Sutanto wanted to “create more accessible, multitasking bags for people on the go.”
As a small business, Maika is built on personal relationships. The company has used the same factory in India to manufacture its wares since its inception and works closely with the owner to create exacting standards and hone its signature color palette. Maika also partners with a Chicago fulfillment house that employs disabled adults through a training/housing program, as part of its ethos of giving back. One percent of proceeds goes to a selected charity each quarter. Sutanto also relies on customer feedback to guide which direction the brand should go.
In the future, Sutanto looks to foster community through workshops and classes. In the meantime, Maika’s color-a-tote and stencil-a-pouch kits offer DIY crafting opportunities for the aspiring designers in all of us. Maika is available at Celery Space and A Priori in Berkeley, Pelago in Oakland, and online at MaikaGoods.com. Prices range from $12.95 to $90.