About Our Story


Malai started as a research project of two people: Susmith - a product designer and maker from Kerala (a province in the South of India);  Zuzana - a material researcher and designer from Slovakia. 


They met in Mumbai in 2015, by which time Zuzana had already been working for over three years on bacterial cellulose as a material.  She was keen to explore the potential in India for employing a traditional bacterial-cellulose growth process used in the Philippines, where ‘Nata de Coco’ (the Filipino version of this substance) is an important part of the food industry.

 

Malai founders - Zuzana Gombosova

 

The name of Susmith’s home region can be literally translated as ‘the land of coconuts’, which given the circumstances, was a good sign!

In 2017 they moved to a coconut-cultivating region in Southern India and began working full-time to develop Malai and to consider in what context this new material could be applied.  They chose to target it towards the sustainable fashion market, because of its aesthetic appeal and with a view that fashion is the second most polluting industry, beaten only by oil. 

Today Malai consists of a team of 10 people working in production, r&d, marketing, sales and design. It collaborates with an array of experts from microbiology, material science,  chemistry, mechanical engineering and business development.