Tell us where you are from, the early years of your childhood and what influenced your direction towards Fashion?
I was born in Copenhagen. My mother is Danish, my father is African, born in the Ivory Coast but he moved to Paris to study when he was 22. That´s where he met my mother and I was made. I grew up with my mother in Denmark, while my father lived in Paris. He was never very present in my childhood, but I never doubted his love, I always knew where he were and who he was. When I was 7 we moved to Jutland (another part of Denmark). Till this point I was never aware I had another skin tone, or at least it was never an issue. But in Jutland things were different. The first two years I lived there I was almost completely isolated. Only because I looked and talked different. The children around me told me they hated the color of my skin, my hair, my last name (which is my fathers African name) and the fact that I did not really belong. Luckily things changed when I moved to a new school at the age of 9. I tell this because these two years are in many ways the reason for my success today. For years I would go back to this period and remind myself to always keep fighting and show the world that I was something and I could make it despite I had been told the opposite. Besides from the influence of these years I have been attracted to aesthetics as long as I can remember. To lines, colors, structures and shapes. But it wasn´t until I was 17 I dared to speak out load that I dreamed of making a career as a designer. It took me another 5 years to apply to the Royal academy of fine arts.
Where did your inspiration stem from or the mood you wanted to set in the design of your line.
My concrete inspiration always begins with the material, whereas the more intuitive inspiration somehow always go towards Africa. I have only been there once to visit my family and even if it is many years ago I keep going back there in my mind. The colors, the primitive, simple approach to aesthetics is still something that I love, no matter the trends. It´s not necessarily very visible in the finished products, but it´s something that is inside me and defines me both as a designer and a person.
How receptive were individuals to your ideas before they came to fruition?
During my years in the design academy I found it hard to communicate my ideas. I didn´t fit anywhere and always wanted to do things in my own way. However especially one teacher would keep encouraging me even from a very early stage. I´m still to date very grateful for this support as it takes a lot of courage and self-confidence to show someone else your ideas. It´s very personal and there’s always a chance that other don´t like it.
What would you say to those who don’t have the positive reinforcement of family or and friends when pursuing a passion?
If you really have a passion for something I would always recommend you to follow that passion. That said I know for sure I wouldn´t have been able to follow my passion if I hadn´t had my family. My mother was always there to take care of my children when they were small and I would study day and night. My husband and children are still the biggest support.
What does fear mean to you?
In connection to my business I feel fearless. Fear only draws you down and I cannot work if I think too much of all the things that could go wrong. Real fear is something I connect to losing my family of friends. When that feeling hits me there is nothing I can do. That´s why I don´t accept fear in connection to building a business.
Suggestions or advice for those who are afraid to take the first steps in building a business?
First of all you gotta ask yourself if you really feel passionate about your idea? If it hunts you even your dreams, if you cannot imagine your life 30 years from now without having pursued your idea, then do it. I always insist on following my instinct. Of course I discuss ideas and listen to my surroundings, but in the end the idea, the company is yours so it´s you who knows best in most situations.
What is the best piece of advice or life lesson you have learned regarding your work?
Work (very) hard. Focus. Always do your best. Follow your inner voice and be good to people. It´s as simple as it sounds.
How do you define success?
If you are able to go to work with feeling happy every morning I think it´s the most success you can get.
What keeps you motivated?
My family, friends and team´s support, and the personal involvement and feedback I get from my clients. I as nothing without them. I also love to involve my children in my work, bring them to my work trips to Italy and let them see how important the personal relationships are in all connections. Also I love to work with the skilled artisans in Italy. They are such good people in every way and it feels so special to be so close to them and their families after years of ups and downs together. We depend on each other and those relationships gives me so much.
Current music playlist and favorite book?
I often make people around me go crazy because I listen to the same music over and over again. I love Sampha, FKA twigs, Sza, kendrick lamar, Kelela, Chromo, D´angelo, Devonte Hynes, Dezarie, Frank Ocean, Jhene Aiko and Solange. The new R´n´B genre is so refreshing and innovative.
Favorite restaurant and dish you would not want to live without?
As I have a big love for Italian food my favorite restaurant is in Tuscany. Way up in the mountains in a small village there is a hidden little gem. Everything is homemade from the freshest ingredients picked directly from the garden. Besides I love my husbands homemade spring rolls. Sunday lemon chicken or one of my daughter’s amazing cakes.
Do you have a workout/exercise routine? If so, what is your routine?
As I spent so many years working in front of my laptop in a very bad posture I´m now suffering so much in my back that I started doing pilates 1:1. I started from the bottom and it feels like the best I ever did for my body. Besides I do hot yoga which I love. And then I go by my bike everyday, that counts too, right?
Set the mood of your work space; do you listen to music, enjoy silence, turn off your phone etc…
My tiny office is behind my shop so I´m used to working with a lot of interruptions during day. I kind of like it as no days are the same. But what I love the most about my job is my work trips to Italy I do 8 times a year. It´s so inspiring. I have my own office at the factory where I some times isolate myself. Music in my ears and no one asking my anything. At least for 20 minutes at the time. That´s amazing!
Favorite Designer or boutique/store/space
I just discovered Tsemaye Binitie, I don´t think I have ever seen such beautiful clothes. I´m completely in love
What is your favorite life lesson
It´s no lie that if you work really hard and treat people with love and respect, it will all come back to you somehow.
Expanding my shoes collection and hopefully entering the US market during 2016. That´s a goal at least.