The following piece was written by Elsbeth van Paridon and originally published by SIX Magazine — The China Issue. With some additional editing (to cinch in my literary flamboyance) by Founder and Editor-In-Chief Alina Raetsep. It’s all about style with a sustainable mission. Definitely worth a peek-a-boo!
Photo: Atelier of Dreams
On my way to investigate what’s new on the ‘slow’ fashion / design / style scene for SIX Magazine in China, I stomped across The Pearl aka Hong Kong. Admittedly, perhaps not so much “stomped” as the hills of Hong Kong Island are treacherous to the heels, to say the least. I prefer flats to being face *flat* on the ground.
Living in Hong Kong has given many the opportunity to launch their very own brand. Hong Kong is a city favorable to entrepreneurs in the sense that it is easy to start a business here – government grants, co-working spaces and, of course, abundance of like-minded ambitious locals and expats you are likely to meet, just strike up a conversation at a social gathering, which are aplenty here every night or day of the week. Plus, english is spoken everywhere unlike the Mainland. Opportunities flowing from living in a city like Hong Kong are endless. Opportunities that in turn lead to start-ups with a real chance at real success. Even in the (as of yet) niche that is sustainability.
On an immediate disclaimer note to beat the finger-waggers to the pretentious punch:
This piece (spiking the Hong Kong vs. China debate for some) is not political and if it were I’d never equate the great Kong with the great (vast) Mainland. They are, however, “affiliated”, shall we say. Plus, I needed an excuse to get this particular new brand into this particular SIX Magazine edition.
What brand, you ask? Atelier of Dreams, my first stop on this sustainable drive through China and the affiliates. Atelier could be summed up as ‘grandma’s linen with a 2016 twist’. Who are they, what’s the idea here and who’s it all for? Luckily, I was able to get chummy with fellow Dutchie Juliette Brederode, Atelier founder and director, who kindly (I tend to yap away – surprised?) took the time to strip down the brand to its finest frills.
“Atelier of Dreams is a company with products for the home. We started with a first basic collection of 100 % pure washed linens for table and bed. With this collection we were looking for linen with a new, contemporary and trendy look but with the durability of the linen we know of old, like our grandmother’s linen that will stay beautiful and strong for generations to come. In a society where there is so much waste, we love the idea of linen that you can keep for years and years and will stay beautiful and even gets stronger. The linen is our foundation and we complement it with home accessories that we find or design,” Brederode takes it away.
The brand’s founding members felt there was a market for a brand like Atelier of Dreams, a combination of home products and home inspiration. It took them quite some time to find the linen that they felt was un-frayingly right, but once they did, the unique product and members’ respective backgrounds – sourcing and design in a B-to-B environment on one hand and extensive experience in PR and communication within a B-to-C setting on the other – made it a *Dreamy* start-up match.
The inspiration for Atelier comes from what people see and experience around them, both on- and offline, from living in Hong Kong and from traveling beyond those borders.
Brederode’s quest for that particular color palette, that novel look, those niche accessories, is everlasting and ever discovery-filled one. From thought to creation to production; Brederode shows us how the wheels of the process go round and round.
“We already have different collections for bed & table designed. Recently launched we have started with a basic line, and will start producing new lines in the coming year. We follow the pattern of design, experimenting with the different samples of our products. We have worked with different factories to see which fabrics and colors we felt were the best match with Atelier. After some tough decision-making, we started producing our first line with a linen factory in Europe. For those accessories designed by us, for example the ‘Let’s Celebrate Garland’ ones, we work with a supplier in China. Additionally, we pick and choose from what we find around us in Hong Kong. The hand-woven bamboo basket is a good example of this.”
Atelier has an exciting year ahead with its focus set firmly on the sustainable living aspects within their product offering as well as their sustainable production.
Brederode elaborates: “Our idea was to have a collection of pure linen, a material which gets stronger and softer the more you use it. In a society where we so easily throw away our things, we love this material that stays. If you treat it well, of course. We also look at the way we produce our products and try to produce them in a way that makes the world a little better.”
Now, no one knows what the future will bring, but Atelier has already set its sights on the next dream. “For 2016 we want to work on our bed and table linen and further develop our new lines. Another major priority is to develop our line in Nepal working with the NGO CWS Nepal. To create the opportunity for girls who, for example, have been victims of trafficking. Help them create a safe place and the chance to make a living,” Brederode concludes.
From creating products for home to literally creating homes. Dream it, do it.
More and more brands are taking the concept of sustainability to heart, but as far as Hong Kong goes, it remains on a small scale. The ‘sustainable lifestyle’ is gaining more attention and momentum, but it is a slow process as for many businesses sustainability is still not on the primary billing, i.e. not in the top five must-do’s. It’s getting there, though, one thread at a time.