Women Series | April Edit

Women series is a monthly edit to explore creative entrepreneurship amongst women globally. Through this series, we wish to understand creative journeys, challenges, inspirations and develop a community. For our first series, we have interviewed Andrea Bury, of Abury Foundation Berlin and Tedx Marrakesh ( Sustainable Fashion and Social Business ) and Anahita Kayan of The Space 9/2, Kolkata ( Space and Curation ) 

Andrea Bury

Andrea Bury

1. Tell me about how your creative entrepreneurial journey started. Did you have artistic influences growing up? What education/ training did you receive? 

Funny enough I always thought of myself as a person with two left hands ;). Maybe this is why the skills of the artisans are so fascinating to me. I didn’t have any artistic influences growing up – but having said that – I grew up on the countryside and was always playing outside – imaginary games of pirates, detectives and so on – kind of creative too. Then I studied economics and cultural management. My first jobs were in marketing and communications and in 2001 I started my own communications agency (Calliope – Inspiring Brand Communication). Therefore you could say I was a bit creative – but rather with communication than with my hands! From 2005/6 I started to focus more on sustainability and social business. I thought it is an amazing concept to use business as a force for good and start thinking about how I could be part of this movement.

2. What has been the source of inspiration for you( people, places, cultures etc)?

It is really hard to say – often it is nature and silence. I think nature offers a lot of ideas and i love to be the first one in the morning to swim in the lake or run around it. I also keep counting my steps to clear my mind while running and feel super inspired after. But then again – it is definitely also people – often people from completely different backgrounds who open your mind towards a new way of thinking. This for me is one of the fascinating things to learn – how people look at the world coming from different cultures. I believe in „transformation through experience“ – so I love to throw myself in different experiences and try to learn from them!

3. Could you share the conceiving of Abury? We are curious to know about the process and its development.

In 2007 I moved to Marrakesh with my then husband and we bought a house in the Medina and renovated it only with traditional artisans from the neighbourhood. The idea was to create a think tank that thinks about the challenges of the world. This is how I got involved with crafts and started my fascination with it. I was always a bag lover – so I started to collect vintage bags that I found in the Medina and every time I found one – I got an amazing story with it. After some time some friends asked me if I could find one for them too. And already in the mood of thinking about how I could change something – here the idea was right in front of me! And as I am not a designer, I went to ESMOD – the local fashion school in Berlin – and told them that I would need a designer to work with me and the artisans on quality management, design and to create a collection with the idea to pay fair, preserve crafts and give back again through education projects. And they thought that is great – and this is how it all started. Very organic, one step at a time.

4. What is the step forward for your projects? You are highly involved in the fashion and arts community in Berlin. How does that facilitate your ideas?

I think networking is important in any industry you are working in. I only started to enter the fashion world 6 years ago. So I didn’t know anything about fashion and the market. Connecting with people who are players in the market and who you can ask your most urgent questions is super important - here you get insights and support that you can’t find in books. It helped and helps ABURY a lot and the cool thing is that we can now start to give advice back to the next generation :)!

5. Could you comment on the current landscape of independent brands and lifestyle products that have given rise to a new industry in the global market?

I love the development that more and more small brands are rising that combine great ethics and designs - especially more who are really interested in working with artisans - who also want to tell their stories. So slowly - 5 years after Rana Plaza - the topic of „Who made my clothes?“ - is reaching a really broader audience. My hope is that together we can develop a strength that manages to change the industry from within. I still feel that many consumers don’t know where to find these brands and we need more cooperation and a bigger lobby to promote ethically produced products.

6. Your initiatives are socially responsible. Please advise how small businesses could accommodate some steps to be more sustainable.

I believe that especially small brands can actually lead the way in sustainability. We are much more flexible and if you set up good practices from the beginning it helps you in many ways and it is much easier to follow them through growth as well. We have certified B Corp since 2017. The process was super interesting and very motivating team experience. I can only recommend everyone to go through the questionnaire. even if you don’t want to go through the certification - it is just really helpful to have the guidance in which areas you can actually look into sustainability and what it means. Here you can learn more about it -the questionnaire is open and free

Anahita Kayan

Anahita Kahan

1. Tell me about how your artistic journey started. Did you have artistic influences growing up?  What education/ training did you receive?  

My journey started quite by chance, though I have always been creatively inclined and intrigued by all elements of design and retail. At college, I pursued Economics as it seemed right then (and I still don't think it was a bad decision). A few years after returning to India, I decided to start a digital archival of essays, travel stories, fitness mantras and recipes and I was keen to launch it with something called The Guerrilla Art Project. For this, we invited 6 people from different creative fields to come and interpret an old abandoned space (which is now outside my gallery). This made me realise that I enjoy curating and visual design and I have never looked back since. 

2. What has been the source of inspiration for you( people, places, cultures etc)

Publications, architecture and poetry

3. Could you share the conceiving of The space at 9/2 project? We are curious to know about the process and its development.

The Space At 9/2 was conceived as a platform and 'space' for artists to be themselves and not produce pieces and collections based on market trends or what would work - essentially, it also allowed me to channel my vision, in a way I thought it should be. It has now matured to also work with and consult brands to communicate their true identity through visual, photography and space design. 

4. What is the step forward for your personal projects? 

I don't think I can plan my personal projects. I suddenly have an epiphany of a concept and then I work towards it. 

5. Could you comment on the current landscape of independent art/ curation industry in India? 

Misunderstood and mistreated. Period.