Meet the Designer Behind KUMA: Mari Ojasaar!

It’s impossible to tell the story of KUMA Design without telling the story of Mari, because she was the one, who had a wonderful idea of a feminine bow tie in the shape of a butterfly brooch! Today, we will share an interview with Mari about inspiration, brand building and of course butterflies!

Where do you get inspiration for new KUMA accessories?

My source of inspiration often varies. For example, right now I’m fascinated by interior design. Sometimes I just look at a couch and the way it’s made and I get an idea to use the same design solution for an accessory. The waves of inspiration usually hit me in the most unexpected places and situations. However, I always get new ideas from my travels and exploring new places.

Why butterflies?

Because butterfly is like a little miracle of nature - it emerges from nowhere and is gone in a blink of an eye. But if you get a chance to observe them for a little while, you will start to notice how unique and breathtakingly beautiful they are. I believe that the same fragileness and femininity of butterflies is hidden in all women. Some let it shine out more, some less, but that’s why the KUMA butterfly brooch was created: to help modern day women bring out their feminine side!

Nature is a very close to your heart, how would you describe your connection with nature?

Nature has always fascinated me, but I don’t really have the answer why. If I’d had to guess, I would say that in nature I don’t have to fulfill any roles. It takes you just the way you are, without any expectations. Also, I feel that nature charges my batteries and gives me new energy similar to the way, meeting new people and spending time with inspirational minds makes you feel like you are a better person at the end of the day. My favourite places for unwinding and relaxing are the seaside, bog and different natural sanctuaries.

What are some of your favourite podcasts and Instagram accounts that inspire you?

Recently, I’ve been loving Melissa Ambrosini podcasts! 

For instagram, I’ve been inspired by the following accounts:

Workout chic @rocamoons

Foodie @anettvelsberg 

Jewellery designer @samanthawills

Estonian tea woman @kuu.elina 

and @sandravabarna - her account is always full of inspiring ideas. 

...but I have to say that sometimes I even scroll through our own @kumadesign Instagram for some inspiration...guilty in charge.

KUMA Instagram

What activities or hobbies help you get inspired, when you don’t have any new ideas?

My brain starts to work, whenever I move! For example, whenever I take my dog for a walk, a flow of ideas hits me. Recently, I have also discovered tea ceremonies - drinking tea in silence is a truly meditative experience, that sets your priorities straight and gives you a new boost of energy!

If you could go back in time, when you started to make KUMA butterflies, what advice would you give to yourself?

  1. Find yourself a mentor, who can guide you on your road to success.
  2. Try, try and try again! Don’t wait for an overnight success, because everything takes time - it’s a long road from the first prototype until the moment when you have a well functioning team behind you!
  3. Be brave and work hard - that is more important than any “special” idea!
  4. Get on with it! Even if you don’t have an exact vision of how things are going to be, then just make a start and see where the road takes you.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Mari making brooches

Do you have role models?

Yes, I do! One of the biggest role models lately has been the jewellery designer Samantha Wills!

What are the three things you never leave your house without?

Lately, those two “things” have been my children. :D But whenever I have a chance to wander around on my own, I always have my phone with me so I can listen to  some inspiring podcasts. Also, I never leave the house without at least one KUMA accessory. For example, while I am writing answers for this interview I am sitting in a cafe called NOP in Kadriorg and I am wearing two different KUMA earrings. Why? Because I like to stand out from the crowd and do things a little differently. But more importantly, I always wear my own products to test the durability and quality of the products and figure out how to improve them. I am also currently wearing our “Inspired by Nature” t-shirt inside test it of course :D

Why do you think KUMA has been so successful in Estonia?

 I believe that time was the most important factor for KUMA - we entered the market at a time, when we truly stood out with a unique product. At that time, no one made bow ties for women in the shape of a butterfly. Also, I was very open to learning new skills and gaining new contacts and constantly tried to improve the product as well as the packaging. Another good decision was to invest in a good photographer, which was definitely the right choice for today’s social media area.

Mari Ojasaar

How would you describe your art?

I am the kind of artist, who always wants to do things my own way. My art is strongly influenced by the environment, green thinking and breathing in the same rhythm with the nature. My aspiration is to give back to the nature through my art and encourage people to stand out and experiment!