To celebrate International Women’s Week, we’ve put together a series of interviews with inspirational female creatives. This time we spoke with Sara C. Andersson from the eponymous fashion label SCA ULVEN – one of the seven innovative brands that took part in the ArtRebels Garden of Good showroom at Gallery during Copenhagen Fashion Week 2012.
How did SCA ULVEN get started?
I met my partner, Marte Ulven, when we were studying together at TEKO in Herning, Denmark. As the school is located in the middle of the countryside, there wasn’t that much to do other than focus on work, and somehow the idea of creating something of our own began to grow.
We started out directly after completing our studies. So far we have made four collections and we’re now working on our fifth.
When did you realize that you wanted to have your own label, rather than work for an established fashion brand? What made you take the leap?
I guess the curiosity and the thought of building something of our own was the initial reason. When it comes to the question of timing, when is it ever the right time to start a journey when you know you won’t have an income for years to come and you’ll be working for something that at times feel impossible to achieve? At least at that point in time we had a lot of passion and drive, and that has made all the difference.
What challenges have you faced?
Quite a few. The ultimate challenge is believing in what we are doing and that we are creating something good – it is harder than it seems at times. Secondly, building a business while being creative and having to know about all kinds of rules and regulations is a huge learning curve. We started SCA ULVEN without much industry experience which is definitely not always an advantage as we have to figure everything out on our own instead of just knowing how certain things should be done. In saying that, being a bit naïve also has its advantages!
How are you working towards sustainability?
The basic idea behind SCA ULVEN is to produce high quality garments that withstand usage and trends – clothes that you can cherish.
Since the beginning we have tried to source sustainable fabrics but not been able to use them because of the high costs. Instead we have been working on implementing sustainability through our production process. We work with factories in Lithuania and Portugal, and most of our fabrics come from Italy and Portugal. We have visited factories and met the people we are working with face to face and have established a good working relationship with them. Everything is located in Europe which is easily accessible for us, at least compared to Asia. The CO2 impact caused by freight is also considerably less as the goods are transported over shorter distances. These are the kinds of things that we try to be aware of. In the future we want to work with ecological fabrics.
Has sustainability been a difficult path?
It is a very difficult path. For a small brand, the high costs set up against trying to make a profit because the survival of our business depends on it is certainly not easy.
Who are your biggest female inspirations and why?
My mother, of course. It is a mystery to me how she has managed to work so much throughout her life, raise children and still have time to be a super interesting and a wise woman.
If you weren’t a fashion designer, what would you be doing?
I have always wanted to be a shepherd, in the old school kind of way, you know just trekking across fields and mountains herding livestock. Seems kind of harmonious.
Do you have advice for young creative women following in your footsteps?
Be super excited about the project at hand, work a lot, don’t give up even when you feel like it’s all you can do, have people around to help you. I read somewhere that you should always hire people that are smarter than yourself. That seems like good advice.