Photo by Miikka Pirinen
Fair Start Logo

Fair Start by Life Seekers
Handmade products by refugees

Fair Start is a revolutionary design brand – it offers desirable products for curious consumers and enables asylum seeking artists and craftsmen support themselves during their insecure journey. 

With this, what seems like simple idea, a global digital gift shop with meaningful and desirable products, artisan refugees are able to turn their special skills into profit. In a way, Fair Start crossbreeds Etsy, Fair Trade, Uber and Ebay.

The brand was born based on Startup Refugees network’s simple discovery: a growing interest for imported artisan & ethnic jewelry, wooden ware, carpets and decorative items among design enthusiasts meanwhile the skilled craftsmen and artists are, by fortune, actually living around Europe in refugee centers and camps. We didn’t see this as an obstacle but a challenge for us to solve.

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We believe that most of the fear and bias against refugees and immigration are based on the fear of their dependence on us. Our ideology is that everyone should be given a fair start – a chance to support oneself.

All products are designed in workshops by the refugee designers, artists and artisans. The workshops are run and mentored by local design professionals. After the prototypes have been finished the refugees start production at the reception centers. The first two products have now been finished and many more are being developed.

The profit is then shared equally by the refugees who make the products.

All products are unique, as are their makers, and symbolize the new beginnings, untold stories and hopeful journeys that the refugees have been forced to experience to get here safe.
We can make a difference. 

Life Seeker boat


For several years the lifeboat has been a symbol of asylum seekers’ sadness and horror, people losing their lives and loved ones. In the hands of skilled craftsmen the boat has now become a symbol for not asylum seeking but life seeking. In search for hope and a better future.

Life seeker boat has been handmade of Finnish pine bark and birch plywood. It comes in three parts that can be assembled with no effort.

Size L 130mm W 35mm H 130mm (sizes may vary due to hand carving)

Price 15€ (minimum order 20 pcs)

Each package will be signed by the maker.

Not Just A Number Jewelry


Refugees are not statistics. Not Just A Number Jewellery gives true meaning to the numbers: How many children does the maker of this jewellery have? What was the date she or he was forced to leave home? When did she or he arrive? What is your significant number?

Not Just A Number Jewelry has been handmade of 925 silver. On one side side of the plate there is a text LIFE SEEKER and on the other side you can order your important number.

Size 60mm x 10mm (sizes may vary due to hand hammering)

Price 35€ / plate (minimum order 20 pcs)

You can choose out of

Necklace (with cotton thread)
Bracelet (with cotton thread)
Key ring (with metallic ring)

Each package will be signed by the maker.

How to get involved?


We are searching for partners!  

Contact us

Heli Mäenpää
Project Director
+358 50 511 0765

We could not have done this without

Agency Leroy
Fiskarsin Laatupuu Oy
Gimme Ya Wallet
Image Wear
Mauno Catering
Mediapool Finland
Richard McCormick’s
Studio Linnunlaulu

Antti Johannes Peltonen
Hanna Mällinen
Ina Mikkola
Jussi Särkilahti
Lotta Veromaa
Markus Friskberg
Miikka Pirinen
Nino Hynninen
Timo Salli
Ville Tervonen