Our Team

Lia Valerio—Founder and President looshwebsite1

Lia founded Malia Designs in 2005 to bridge the gap between isolated producers in the developing world and Western consumers. Following her service in the Peace Corps, Lia traveled extensively throughout Southeast Asia and witnessed the horrors of Human Trafficking firsthand while in Cambodia. Lia is extremely moved and motivated by the women whose lives Malia Designs most impacts—our Cambodian artisan partners. Her talent for keeping A LOT of balls up in the air at all times is one to be reckoned with, and her infectious laugh is contagious, so considered yourself warned!

Lucia Ruth—Director of Marketinglooshwebsite1

Lucia is our Director of Marketing aka our West Coast branch as she is located in sunny San Diego. Lucia is passionate about sharing the story and vision of Malia Designs and oversees our numerous social media efforts as well as the Malia Designs website. She tends to be extremely caffeinated, so beware if you get her started on any of her favorite topics, such as social justice, empowerment for women, her Jack Russell rescue dogs or Mad Men. Lucia joined the Malia Designs team in late 2011 and is excited about her expanding role and inspired by her recent journey to Cambodia.

Mary Oglesby—Office Managerlooshwebsite1

Mary officially joined the Malia Designs team in July 2014 but has been a big supporter of our mission and wearer of our goods for many, many years. She owns a lot of handbags. A lot. Her passion for social movements is witnessed through her work over the years with Fabretto, an organization that provides educational and health services in Nicaragua. She keeps us well organized and our customers stocked in Malia Designs bags. Mary is excited to be a part of the fight against Human Trafficking through Fair Trade.


Shifra Whiteman—Textile Designershifrawebsite

Shifra is our snazzy textile designer. She is a NYC native who has found her home in the Midwest. Shifra has an obsession with patterns, as well as social justice. Over the last 4 years she has been designing for various fair trade companies which allows her to marry her two loves – design and creating social impact! Shifra officially joined the Malia Designs team in the mid 2014, is permanently giddy about designing future seasons and sprinkling her creative input through various aspects of Malia Designs. She also LOVES puns and cycling around Chicago on her yellow bike named “Ella”.

Bunthoeun San (BT) – General Manager, Cambodiashifrawebsite

BT is our all around go to guy on the ground in Phnom Penh, Cambodia! He’s been with Malia Designs since the beginning and we wouldn’t be what we are today without him. He works closely with our Fair Trade producer groups in Cambodia and the team State side keeping the wheels of Malia Designs churning round and round. BT’s warmth, kindness and since of humor are known by all. And by all, I mean the entirety of Phnom Penh, as DJ Tom playing the hits on the radio!