Our founder and creative director


"I believe in creating clothes that reveal who we are — not only in terms of personal style, but by shining a light on our values and making them visible."

A traveller at heart, I love going to local markets because that’s where I can talk to locals and understand what they value the most. In 2015, during a visit to Ghana for my non profit I spent a lot of time at the Makola Market in Ghana’s capital city, Accra. The saleswomen who traded Wax Prints fabric at that market immediately captured my attention. Their powerful and vibrant disposition of life was reflected in their energy, style, and colorful outfits. The saleswomen at Makola market and their products left a deep impression on me and were the inspiration to embark on this journey. That is why I decided to anchor the connection with the Makola market in the name of the brand: Maakola. In Ghana, I discovered that clothes don’t just look good: they have charm, importance and significance. Each fabric pattern at the Makola market is given a name and a story that weaves it into African life and culture. That resonated with me, because to me, fashion isn’t supposed to be just beautiful; it is more than aesthetics and color. The clothes we wear are a way to explore and connect: with each other, with our own culture as well as other cultures, with the past, and with the future. Each and every one of us should feel good in – and about – what we wear. Ultimately, they’re not just clothes; they’re a reflection of a changing society.

"I founded Maakola to challenge the concept of beauty. From our tailors and customers I learned that a fashion garment isn’t just the sum of the parts but the relationship between the parts and those who make, design, and wear them."

When I started, I didn’t have any background in fashion or retail, but I had a strong entrepreneurial spirit and classic Italian fashion sense. At the beginning of this journey with the help of Cindy Kofie and Priscilla Adjubel I made the first prototypes and started developing Maakola as an international brand made for a global woman whose fashion choices reflect her actions, values, and lifestyle. I want Maakola’s garments to create communities, connect segregated networks, reinforce existing cultures, and create movements bigger than themselves. That makes me first and foremost a social entrepreneur.

Today, Maakola’s international DNA is shaped by a team of talented tailors and craftsmen. From their hands, I can witness how far my creations navigate, which gaps they bridge, and what they become. Clothes, like fibers, can build threads that we can wear or we can build. In my TEDx presentation Threads of Freedom, I tell the story of the powerful journey of a thread, a garment that turns into something bigger than itself.

The people who wear Maakola love the natural fabrics and vivid colors of my creations. Yet, what they really care about are the stories of each piece, and how this connects them to the people and cultures behind the clothes. The products I design are like a living organism. I came up with the blueprint, but it is the people along the journey of the garment that bring it to life and transform its qualities.

"My creations are living organisms that capture hundreds of women’s voices and redefine beauty through the story they tell and the impact they have on people and the planet."

My creations are shaped and kept alive by every person that touches them. Starting with the saleswomen at Makola market who named their fabrics a century ago to the resourceful women who sell the fabrics today, as well as our tailors, team, customers, and ambassadors, every Maakola garment holds a collection of their voices. Our pieces connect generations of strong women from all around the world, shrinking the distance between us. Each piece finds roots in hundreds of women’s voices.
I’m grateful to all the women whose talent, imagination and dedication has inspired us on our journey — and I hope you’ll become a part of the Maakola story too.

Aurora Chiste

CEO and Creative Director, Maakola

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