INTERVIEW: E/S DESIGN by Elin Skogberg
We are so happy to finally announce our first interview on NIKA! This has been a process to us and we are to thrilled to finally be able to share this new segment with you! We hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!
Name: Elin Skogberg Age: 32
Profession: Designer & CEO of E/S design
Location: Raseborg, Finland
Elin, for those who don’t know you, can you please describe yourself with 3 sentences.
I am an entrepreneur, I am growing my own fashion business. I am really energetic, but I still need my peace and quiet and my creative space. Mother of two.
Explain your perfect morning!
My perfect morning is when I get up before the kids. I make a cup of coffee straight away, eat breakfast, and have some alone time before the whole house wakes up and the day starts. I need that time alone in the morning.
Who’s your role model?
My parents, especially my mom. She has taught me to grab what I want, and not wait for it to happen. If I become something like them, I will be super happy.
When you have an hour for yourself, what do you prioritize to do?
Sit down and breathe. I try to relax and take a break from the phone, maybe make a coffee, and just sit down on the couch and read a magazine. I always find something to do, so for me, when I get a moment alone it is important to sit back, relax, and take deep breaths and refocus.
What is your all-time favorite song?
I do not listen to music too much, but my guilty pleasure is, Sorry with Justin Bieber.
What would you say to your 20-year-old self?
Stop caring so much about the way you look and start focus on what you do.
Since we both grew up in the same small town, I know it can be hard to step outside the comfort zone since everybody knows each other. After you studied fashion and design, how did you get the courage to turn your hobby into a business? While I studied design I knew I wanted to start my own business, I wanted to try it out, although by that time I didn't know how, when, or where to get there. After finishing my degree, I started working as a design assistant and little by little I started to make a plan on how to start my own business. I stumbled upon multifunctional clothing, and I focused on how to choose clothes according to your body type. Instagram was starting to take off by the time so I used that a lot. I posted pictures of the first dresses I made and to my surprise, I got a lot of positive feedback! Everything happened little by little, I did not take a big jump, I fell into it, but still, today sawing is my hobby and I would do it even if I wouldn’t have my company.
All your clothes are designed and made in your studio in Finland. You are also known for the phrase ”Adjust the clothes to fit your body, not your body to fit the clothes”. Where does the inspiration for your designs come from?
My brand and my vision keep on changing, and I am in the middle of all of it right now. For me, it is all about that it is never wrong with the way you look, the problem is with the clothes. We live with a clothing industry where we almost only have standard sizes. I want to design and make clothes that feel and look good. I want to focus on the service and work closely with my customers. I get inspiration from people watching, scrolling on Pinterest, saving colors, and pictures that create the feelings I like. I later put all characteristics together while creating an item. I barely never draw, until I work on the final details of the design. I start with choosing the fabric for the products first and then I design.
When you have a vision and a design of what you want to make, how do you find the fabric providers?
This is definitely the hardest part of working with fashion design and one of my most common nightmares. I use agents that are in direct contact with the factory. It is really hard to find the right fabrics. The advantage I have now is that I order a larger range of fabrics, which is more appealing to the factories, of course. I order fabric that I think has good potential and I start working with them and do quality checks. Working closely with the factories creates a trustworthy relationship so I can have a higher demand and order personal colors for example, especially now when I order more volumes!
The vision of the E/S DESIGN is to contribute to the sustainable, domestic clothing industry and to create clothes that will have a longer lifetime. Why did you choose to focus on slow fashion and why did you decide to produce that way?
To be honest, when I started to study fashion I had no interest in sustainability or slow fashion, but then I learned about the fashion industry and how companies produce and about the minimum wages. I realized if I wanted to work in fashion I had to do things differently and not mass produce. I needed to create something better. When you learn about the fashion industry, you can not ignore it. Since I got knowledge about the fashion industry, and also with the years, my lifestyle is also more sustainable. I recycle and use compost, so to work with slow fashion is a clear option for me.
Fast fashion is the leading way to produce today. You decided not to be a part of Black Friday last year. What’s your opinion on fast fashion retail?
The problem is not that we consume, it is the speed and the amounts of consuming that is the problem and, that is what bothers me. We humans today think we need to consume. The fast-fashion retail industry is constantly trying to speed up consumption, which is horrible. We need to slow down and be awake, take our responsibility, and think over what we buy and why. Usually, when I buy something, it sometimes takes over 4-5 months before I find what I am looking for because I am not in a rush. The problem is that the industry is creating the urgency in us that we feel that we need it straight away, but you don't actually need it at all. I rarely do sales, that it just a way of the fashion industry to trick us once again. I have also learned that when I slow down and not buy that much, I am happier.
When you compliment someone for something they wear they usually answer “I got it really cheap” when they should answer, thank you, It feels super nice and I like the way it looks on me”.
How do you think your company can impact on reducing human waste?
To minimize waste I try to donate the rest materials, but it is hard, for most of the companies it is cheaper for them to buy something new instead of reusing, which is crazy. In my packaging I avoid using plastics, we use papers and yuan only.
You started your online shop 4 years ago, where do you think the next 4 years will take you? Are you planning to have physical stores in the future? If so, where?
Right now E/S design is in the middle of a process. In 4 years I think instead of having a normal webshop I think I will have a community. My customers are very loyal, they love me and I love them back. For me, customer quality is super important! I rather work with fewer customers and provide them better clothes and services. “I don’t enjoy a lot of customers, it makes me stressed” I want fewer customers and give them more value.
A store is very dangerous. Right now I can sell all over Europe but a store is very limited to the location. It definitely would be nice to have clothes available in stores, but it does not need to be my own. Today it is available to come to the studio and fit your clothes and as well order home for free. I want to create an experience that it feels that you are in the store but you can shop online. I am also planning to move to a bigger space, there I might have a showroom combined with a shop that would be open a couple of days a month!
How do you reach your customers - what is your prior marketing strategy?
I have never used the money on marketing. First of all, I am not good at it and I have had the luck the grown organically. I really don't know how it happened. I talked to people and the word spread. I recently announced that I will not reproduce my best seller dress - and that I will only sell the ones I still have fabric for, which was 39 dresses. To my surprise, I sold 35 of them within a week! Just by talking to people on Instagram!
I think the key is to be personal, people want to know who is behind the company. I talk to people on Instagram, on my personal one I am more transparent. I am fun and goofy, but on E/S design I am more business. People want to support me, my advice is to go out with your personality - apologize when something goes wrong and be grateful when it goes well.
I can tell you are hardworking and passionate about your job. What do you think is the percentage of hard work versus luck in finding success in business?
Hard work is definitely the key. You can not keep it up if you do not work hard. Timing is also very important. I had great timing when I launched my webshop. I was the first one who did a slow fashion at that time. I would say it is 20% luck and 80% hard work. You can only use the luck once or twice, then you need to work hard.
What would you say to someone that wants to start their own company?
You need to know and choose if you want to earn money or if you want to work with something you love. For me, the goal is the be creative and create a nice workspace for me. I want a job that works with my family and one that helps me and them. I also want to help people. You need to find what your goal is! All the decisions you decide should be based on that. How can you solve a problem for someone with your goal in mind?
A good business idea is not enough, unfortunately. To take the next step with a company, you need to be able to finance the project. It is easy to get stuck while trying to find ways to finance, How did you finance your project in the early start, did you find support from the government, did you inquire investors, or how did you do it?
I used my saving and got a little loan from my parents. I studied and work with a part-time job. When you have a passion you make it work somehow! Start small and invest more and more. I can not really say that I recommend it, if you can, you might want to take a loan of 5-10 000€ just to get started - but keep in mind, that money needs to make more money. If you feel like you want to start building something and you are using money as an excuse, you have not found your thing yet. Once you find it, you will work your ass off, because you enjoy it so much. I worked my ass off and if you really want it you will always find a way.
What is the best and the worst thing about your job and being your own boss?
The flexibility is the best! Some people think that means “drinking coffee all day” which is not true. Every time I go to work I choose it, I want to do it! “We always want to get what does not have” People sees the easier side, but it is hard work. Some people who are working 9-5 things they want to be an entrepreneur but they do not really, they just want the freedom. The hardest thing is that I need to make every decision. It can make me really frustrated.
A business and a company are always alive and it keeps developing, with the time it changes and gives it new shapes. I know you have a lot of projects ongoing and exciting new projects coming up, anything you would like to share about that?
Business casual clothing - focus more on the service and not on creating clothes. I think fashion is moving more towards custom made items. We already have 3D printers and avatars that can scan your body and probably can shop for you in the future. I have something a lot of fashion brands do not have. I have the knowledge to create the items myself, I do not need factories for that since I produce myself.
Last but not least, what would you like people to know about your company and yourself? What can you offer that they can’t find anywhere else in the fashion market today?
We can offer clothing where you can be a part of the designing and production process. No one in Finland does this - offer the possibility to adjust the clothes to fit the body.
I am just like the rest of the people. I am trying to create something nice for myself and for others. I am doing the best I can. I am just a regular girl. I am struggling, working hard and things go wrong. I am using Instagram and my blog to tell and share my problems to keep it real and transparent. I think people live in a bubble where they think everything goes great for anyway else, but not for themselves. If I can do it you can, as long as you find your niche!
Get in contact with Elin & E/S DESIGN