Q&A with SISSEL EDELBO
SISSEL EDELBO is the Aalborg-based up-cycling fashion brand founded by long-time friends, Jeanne Sissel Thomsen and Christina Edelbo Pedersen.
In 2004, both fresh out of high school, the two innovative girls who had known each other since 2000, began to develop an idea to start their own brand; to launch an up-cycled sustainable brand with a business venture that could be a hobby as well as a passion whilst studying. Jeanne went on to study Communications at Aalborg University whilst Christina studied Design at TEKO in Herning. Eventually the hobby morphed into SISSEL EDFELBO, the brand we know today.
Sissel Edelbo is a strong and unique concept. Where did the idea come from?
The idea came on a backpacking trip to India back in 2004. We fell in love with the way Indian women use colors to dress up. It made us think how we could turn the beautiful saris that the women wear into modern Scandinavian styles. From day one, we wanted to recycle the fabrics instead of producing new ones. Every sari tells a unique story about women in India. A story that continues when we recycle them. We find it fascinating to work with fashion in a different way. For us, the satisfaction comes from knowing that we contribute to growth in India. Furthermore, without compromising our style and aesthetics, we put in perspective how people in the western world act as consumers.
What does sustainability mean to you? Is it just a good business idea or have you always been conscious of this particular issue?
The more conscious we become working with sustainable design, the more we aim to become a holistic brand. We view sustainability as much more than just the product. It’s important to us to make all aspects of the production sustainable. Therefore, we challenge our team at SISSEL EDELBO to constantly think about how we can incorporate sustainability into everything we do. To us it’s more than just a great business idea. It’s the core (or essence) of SISSEL EDELBO.
Can you explain the process of finding the saris? Do you go to India yourselves and how often?
All of our styles are made from the vintage saris we buy from women who sell their clothes to earn extra money for the household. We have established a great relationship with our partners in India. We therefore travel to India as often as we can to be a part of the entire process. We like to know who we are working with and how the production is handled.
Is it difficult to evolve and expand your business when going against mass production? What are the limitations of running a company that is based on sustainability?
We see more possibilities than limitations in running a sustainable business and an upcycling fashion brand. Today, consumers are more aware of what they buy, how and where it’s made. Our advantage is that we are able to see beyond figures and profits and actually listen to our costumers’ needs. SISSEL EDELBO is one of the first Danish brands that has chosen to focus 100 percent on recycling materials. We will of course never become a massive brand like BESTSELLER but that has never been the idea with SISSEL EDELBO. We want to do fashion with our heart in it.
What does the future hold for SISSEL EDELBO? Any exciting news you can unveil?
For our SS17 collection, we were really focused on how we could optimize our sustainable brand. We created a collection with a mixture of prints from used left-over fabrics from previous collections. We think using even the smallest piece of fabric that we have lying around is a brilliant way of minimizing waste. Our vision for 2017 is to focus on two new markets, Norway and Holland. We are collaborating with two agencies on this. We are experiencing a greater and greater interest in SISSEL EDELBO internationally and we are excited to venture into these new markets.