Behind The Brand: Malaika Linens

We love brands with heart and purpose! Today we are very excited to introduce Goya Gallagher, Co-Founder of Malaika Linens! We first connected through Instagram, and we couldn't be more excited to be launching with several of their beautiful designs. 
We had the chance to sit down with Goya and learn more about her inspiration behind the brand and its work to help women learn a valuable skill and improve their economic standing.
Their model grew from a simple idea: many women, regardless of age, background or literacy, can learn to sew. Today, dozens of underprivileged Egyptian women and refugees, travel to Malaika's self-funded school to learn embroidery techniques.
Read on to learn more about this special brand and to shop their beautiful hand-crafted designs!
Credit: Malaika Linens
HH: To get started, can you tell us a little about Malaika Linens and what inspired you to start the brand?
GG: I moved to Egypt in 1992, straight out of college, on what seemed like a great adventure. I fell in love with Egypt, with is layered history and all its contrasts, from a dense and bustling Cairo to the serenity of Aswan and the expanse of the desert.  A few years later my childhood friend from my native Ecuador, came to visit and also fell under the spell of Egypt. We decided to start a business together and put our creative minds to work. Egyptian cotton, famous worldwide, but not branded in Egypt seemed like a good place to start. In 2004, Malaika began by making hand embroidered bed linen and has since moved onto table linen, pottery and glass in an effort to engage with as many Egyptian crafts as possible.
Credit: Malaika Linens
HH: Where are you based? 
GG: In Cairo, we have a factory in the outskirts of the city with over 150 employees. Most of our embroidery is made by the students of Threads of Hope, an embroidery school founded by Malaika, teaching women the art of embroidery and giving them an opportunity to then work from home. We also work with artisans all over the country, from the potters in the oasis of Fayoum, glass blowers in Old Cairo, weavers in the south of Egypt and for the latest collection, embroiderers from Nubia.
Credit: Malaika Linens
HH: One of our favorite parts about your product is the exceptional quality and craftsmanship. Can you tell us a bit more about the process and how your pieces are made? 
GG: We have a huge respect for artisans and their ability to have kept crafts alive from one generation to the next, for sometimes thousands of years. For the cushions in our latest collection, we worked with weavers in the South of Egypt in a village that was renown for its textiles in Ancient times. The craft remains much the same and they produce beautifully textured fabric on wooden looms that many artisans have in their homes. We strongly believe in working closely with artisans and it is a collaborative experience where we aim for excellence.
HH: What is it about your designs that make them so special?
GG: There is a timeless quality about products made by hand and we hope Malaika products are cherished for a lifetime. Our products hope to tell the stories of its makers and of Egypt with its rich history and culture.
HH: When you're not working on the collection what might we find you doing?
GG: Traveling! In the winter and spring months I’ll escape to Upper Egypt and will never tire of the journey sailing between Luxor and Aswan. It’s the best form of recharging and an endless source of inspiration. I also try to get to Providence, Rhode Island twice a year to see my two daughters who are there in college. I’m taking a few classes online plus Arabic lessons because although I can speak, I cannot read or write.
We cannot wait to see what you think of these unique pieces! Shop the collection here and be sure to follow them on Instagram @malaikalinens. For more information about their embroidery school, follow @threadsofhopecairo on Instagram.