Artisan Spotlight: Tensira


Please tell us about Tensira.

Tensira was founded in 2010 by Hamidou Diallo and Tuulia Makinen Diallo, who are business associates and also husband and wife.

Hamidou, Tensira’s manager, originates from Guinea. His mother was an indigo dyer for over 40 years, and she inspired him to one day create a company to promote Guinean handcraft. Hamidou obtained a BBA degree in Finland where he met Tuulia in 2003. Tuulia, the artistic director for Tensira, is originally from Finland. She has a degree in textile merchandising from the Mod’Spe fashion business school in Paris.

The two share a passion for African handcrafts, academic backgrounds in business, and the will to create a long-lasting activity for West African craft communities.

What makes Tensira unique?
Tensira combines modern design and centuries-old Guinean know-how in terms of weaving and dyeing. Our line of indigos is dyed with 100% vegetable indigo dye. Guinean craft is renowned for the excellent quality of the indigo dye. Our bestselling range of mattresses is filled with Kapok, a natural fiber that comes from the fruit of the Kapok tree (also called the silk-cotton tree due to the very silky touch of its fiber).

Tell us about the products you offer.
We offer home linens that are 100% cotton, hand spun, hand woven, and hand dyed. We make cushion covers, throws, bed covers, table linens, curtains, totes, scarves, and a range of mattresses and floor cushions we fill with Kapok. The mattresses are often laid on a daybed.

We combine stripes, checks, and indigos. Stripes and checks are traditionally used for men’s clothing in Guinea, and indigos are used in women’s clothing.

What techniques and materials do you specialize in? 

We have a line of tie-dye fabrics in which the ties are attached manually with the help of a needle and a thread. This centuries-old technique requires exceptional expertise, since in one meter of tie-dye fabric there are 3,600 ties that are separately attached and then detached after dying.

Who is your ideal clientele?
Tensira has more than 120 retailers around the world. We work with big department stores, such as Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche in Paris, as well as smaller high-end boutiques. Customer loyalty is very important to us; we have clients we’ve worked with since the beginning.  

Please tell us about the artisans you work with.
We have own our workshop in Guinea that opened in 2011. We have 40 collaborators, highly qualified artisans who work full time at our workshop weaving, dyeing and sewing. We work also with 60 independent artisans specializing in indigo dyeing and kapok shelling for our range of Kapok mattresses and cushions.

What are your production capabilities?

We have a very stable production capacity that can be easily increased depending on the season. The workshop manager in Guinea is Aliou Diallo, Hamidou’s younger brother. He is an engineer who is in charge of the workshop when we are not there. 

We do offer also custom products.

What else would you like to add?

Tensira will be presenting the new Fall/Winter 2016 collection for the first time at Artisan Resource at NY Now in August. We are excited to exhibit at this show for the first time. We already have excellent clients in the US and are glad to be able to meet more American buyers to present the new collection!

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