RAGMATE was born from the desires of Martta Leskelä (M.Sc. Econ), an entrepreneur from Oulu, Finland, who wanted to provide employment for female Syrian refugees longing for the chance to lead an independent and happier life. Martta’s heart pulsates with her yearning to help. RAGMATE is the result of her passion and dedication to provide support to the most vulnerable.
The story began in 2015, when Martta envisioned the business idea of employing female Syrian refugees whilst living with her husband and five children in Turkey. The Syrian crises there was clearly visible, and Martta’s conviction to create work for people, one way or another, had been growing for many years. With a long background in Finland of working to raise funds for a humanitarian organisation in developing countries, Martta had the experience to make things happen.
Contacting the UN Refugee Agency opened a path to connections that provided links to those women in Turkey in need of work. Then the concept required the right kind of product – a product that was in itself impressive and desirable, but that also created significant opportunities for employment.
In January 2017 Martta began a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds to provide resources for the women and to launch the online shop. The Ragamuf campaign has aroused tremendous international interest. The products are sold in 20 countries and, among other things, have attracted over 2.9 million views on Facebook, via a video produced by media company, Insider Art. The original chair rug cover was designed by the Finnish designer, Tuula Pöyhönen.
RAGMATE online shop is a step towards establishing continued and increasing work opportunity for female refugees. Under the new RAGMATE brand, the collection has diversified to offer a greater and more versatile range. RAGMATE’s rug collection includes throw rugs, cushion covers, floor rugs and wall rugs. The collection draws inspiration from far and wide, from medieval times to the modern day, from functionality to art. Rugs are a product ideally suited to the image of the company because they represent a beloved tradition across many cultures. RAGMATE honours the lessons of history that show us how the combined knowledge of different cultures can come together to create new and exciting works of art.
The rugs are hand knotted from the textile industry’s excess fabrics. As all RAGMATE rugs are handmade, from start to finish, the slow and labour intensive work creates significant employment.
Step by step the company has travelled the path to the present. The road has taken some turns and thrown up some obstacles, but all has been invaluable experience so that RAGMATE could become the strong and stable enterprise it is today. Love and respect toward people and nature, vision, expertise, quality and excellent customer service, have been the guiding principles of the company.
From this point forward, RAGMATE’s story will be told and narrated by the customers and makers of RAGMATE products. If you want to continue to follow the journey of RAGMATE, then sign up to our newsletter – we’d love to keep in touch!