Last week I had the pleasure of finally meeting Annegret Affolderbach, the founder of London-based womenswear label, Choolips, in person.
Having featured Choolips designs on the blog before, it was great to meet the amazing woman behind the brand. Annegret's passion for what she's doing – championing high quality craftsmanship; reviving ancient textile traditions; empowering the local artisans and entrepreneurs behind them; operating with small water and carbon footprints – is infectious. She is a rebel, in the best sense of the word, on a mission to make the world a better place. With exquisite style and beautiful stories. Yes, we can have all this!
Enjoy the interview and make sure to check out the fantastic EVOLVE project – a collection without leftovers & lots of friends which, Annegret speaks about below.
What's your passion?
Big question. Exploring and creating inspired by people, friends & family, art, design, fashion, photography, travel, music, food, films and theatre… it's a pretty endless list…
What inspired you to go into fashion and to start Choolips?
I thought it would be a great way to join my passion for textiles and planet and people.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Doing things my way and not conforming.
How have you dealt with/overcome it?
Creating a space in my personal and working life that is my personal den where I can reflect and recharge as much as making sure I retain healthy levels of privacy.
What has your greatest achievement been?
Growing up in East Germany, a very different life, and seeing a revolution change that.
Setting up and growing Choolips.
Where will you be in 10 years?
I want to be surprised by that. My life has been pretty surprising to me so far and I like it that way.
How does Africa inspire you?
Can you actually imagine an answer to that question? As big as the continent itself, as big my inspiration. Boundless possibilities for an explorer like myself.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I am thinking about how we can live well in the places we live in and do well with the things we have already got. An idea of being and creating that might hold answers to some big questions us humans are trying to answer at this point in time.
Anything we should look out for in the coming weeks/months/year?
We just launched EVOLVE, a collection without leftovers and lots of friends. Since the conception of Choolips in 2006, we have accumulated many precious things, amongst these likeminded friends … and leftovers. The leftovers are fabrics from our printing and garment production in Ghana. Some might call it waste. We have collected these leftovers and built exciting collaborate.
We gave each of our collaborators a length of our leftovers and asked them to evolve these into beautiful Choolips products, starting our EVOLVE collection across Lifestyle, Jewellery & Childrenswear. Collaborators include Esotic Jewellery (bracelets, below), Sandstorm Kenya (bags and back packs, above), Yinka Ilori (chairs, below) and Ghanaian seamstresses (childrenswear, below).
We have taken to Kickstarter in order to kickstart our EVOLVE collection. This gives you the opportunity to EVOLVE with us and create our first run of limited edition EVOLVE products with your support.
The bigger we grow, the more powerful our impact forging positive change for planet and people. EVOLVE has two advantages. With every collaboration we double our social and environmental impact across continents AND we expand our product line and amazing brand stories. EVOLVE showcases the power of collaborations between Creatives, Artisans and environmentally conscious and social Entrepreneurs associated with the African continent. Each collaboration brings to life contemporary interpretations of some of Africa’s most exquisite craftsmanship emphasising its rich beauty and the future possibilities that lie within and this is just the beginning!
The future? I'd like to create that before I talk about it. There is something called FFFFlower that I am working on and it's deeply inspiring.
Find out more about EVOLVE and pledge your support here. Engage with Choolips on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And visit the Choolips website to find out more about the brand and browse the beautiful collections.
Images courtesy of Annegret Affolderbach
- Inspired: Choolips Diamond Petals Golden Coast Collection, Spring Summer 2013
- Interview with Furniture Designer Yinka Ilori
- Buy African: Fashion on Sapellé – ethical online store and a Choolips stockist
- Interview with Daphne Kasambala, CEO of Online Ethical Fashion Store, Sapellé
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