Do you ever scroll through the explorer feed on Instagram and you see a photo that straight away catches your eye? A few months ago that happened to me when I saw a picture of the URBAN. What a classy office bag. And it only got better when I found out that BERDINE was a Dutch brand with a strong focus on sustainable fashion. A brand you should definitely know about, so without further ado, enjoy the Q&A with the mastermind behind BERDINE!
Photo courtesy of @Emmamorem
Q&A with BERDINE
Hi Berdine, can you tell us what made you decide to start BERDINE?
It was definitely a combination of factors.
First of all I don’t like working behind the computer all day, or the strict routine of working on fixed times. I’m at my best without any restrictions or rules. To work when I feel inspired (which is often 60+ hours a week), and to relax when I need it. So the need to start something for myself was always there.
Another factor was my passion. For as long as I can remember, I felt drawn to creativity and design. But I also thought that it would be hard for me to make a living out of it. So I tried several ‘logical’ educations, but they never made me feel fulfilled. When I got a burnout a few years ago, I decided it was time to do something different and I applied for fashion school. I figured if I was passionate enough, I would be able to succeed. Once in fashion school, the love for minimalism grew.
Then when I graduated, I worked as a designer for several big fashion companies. I thought it was a great way to learn all about fashion and to and gain experience. Instead, I was confronted with fast-fashion and extreme wastage, and I really didn’t like that. It triggered something inside me. That’s the point where I wanted to learn about sustainability.
Focussing on accessories actually came to me by chance. I needed a new bag, but I couldn’t find one that would fit my entire wardrobe. All the bags were designed with bells and whistles, and all I wanted was a bag that would look good with anything. So I made one myself. After that, it was only a matter of time before all the pieces came together.
What is the biggest design influence for BERDINE?
Photo courtesy of @Emmamorem
Most of the times I am visually inspired. It can be very obvious when I’m checking Instagram or Pinterest. But being alone in nature also works magic. The tranquility allows you to totally open up your mind to new ideas. Sometimes I get inspired by a combination of colors, shapes or textures, either in nature or in a city. But music also inspires me a lot. Particularly by the emotions it triggers. Basically it can be anything.
BERDINE is big on sustainability and that products should have a soul, what is the big driver behind this philosophy?
A product with a soul is a product made with love. It’s created from the heart, with deep thought behind it. If you see that value, you will create an emotional connection to that product. That links directly to sustainability. Having that emotional connection to a product, makes that you cherish it. You treat that product with love and it will last much longer.
If I could do one thing differently when I started BERDINE, I would:
Well, I actually believe that every experience is valuable. So anything that didn’t go as planned, is a lesson learned. But if I have to choose, I would say: I would spend less money on FaceBook advertising. When I started this brand, I initially thought that most of my potential costumers would be on Facebook. I also had Instagram, but it wasn’t that big at the time. I cared a lot about the amount of followers I had, because I thought that would translate to the amount of orders I received. So I was really focussed on that quantity. Now I know that it’s much more valuable to have quality followers instead. Quantity isn’t everything.
A lot of people have the ambition to start a brand related to fashion and lifestyle, what would be your number one tip?
Concept is key. When you start a brand, you need to carefully determine the concept of your brand. Why are you starting this brand? Who do you want to reach? What do you want to say to the world? What is the style you’re going for? This concept is basically your guideline for everything you do. So whatever decision you make, make it with this concept in mind. This way there’s clarity for both you and your costumers.
What can we expect from BERDINE in 2019?
One thing I’ve been struggling with is the online world. Even though it brings us a lot of opportunities, sometimes I miss physically talking to people. So one of the things I want to do more in 2019 is meeting up with other creatives. Share experiences, ideas and inspiration over a cup of coffee – or whiskey, depending on the mood. Besides that, I have new ideas on expanding the current collection. I can’t say when I’m going to turn those ideas into reality, but I will definitely move forward with it in 2019.
Accessories should be (finish the sentence)
Photo courtesy of @Jeromeguerzon
Balance. An outfit that consists only of clothes is somehow not finished, not balanced. The right accessory can complete the whole look.
What is one item every man and woman should have in his or her closet?
This probably sounds like an obvious answer, but good basics are essential. And with good basics I mean a good pair of jeans, a basic white tee, black pants, a formal jacket. You can never go wrong with blacks, whites, grey tones and stripes. If you have good basics, you can freestyle around it. So if you want to go crazy on colors or shapes, you are free do to so! But at least your foundation is steady. But me personally, if I have to choose one item, I could never live without black jeans.
What is the biggest no-no in regards to accessories?
The biggest no-no in accessories, fashion and generally in life, is a greedy attitude. ‘I want more and more, and I want it for less’. This attitude simply harms our planet. If you buy a good quality item that’s relatively expensive, you are more likely to treat it better. And I know it sounds corny, but less really is more. The fewer items you own, the more carefully you choose them, and the more you learn to love them. And on top of that it’s very healthy to declutter your life, get rid of all the mess. It creates peace of mind.
If you can give one key accessory tip, what would it be?
Photos courtesy of @Chloealyshea
This one also goes for accessories, fashion and lifestyle: find your personal style. Be critical about this. If you are loyal to your personal style, you will buy items that will last. These items match your personality, and will therefore always suit you. Because your personality doesn’t change like seasons do.
What do you use Instagram for?
Instagram is my playground! I use it as my business card, my look book, my diary. It allows me to have personal contact with my costumers and it’s an incredible way to meet other creatives to share ideas and inspiration with. Just a few months ago I came across an amazing photographer from Seattle. I got this crazy idea to fly there for a shoot, and she was just as excited as I was. So I flew over there, did a shoot with her, and we ended up with gorgeous photos! Plus I gained a friend. She’s coming to the Netherlands this year.
How has Instagram impacted BERDINE?
Instagram impacted me in the way that it’s always in the back of my mind. Whenever there’s something interesting happening in my business or personal life, I want to share it with my followers. I want to involve them as much as I can, so that they will become part of my journey. I think it’s very important to be approachable and transparent, that’s what makes them feel connected to the brand.
What is your point of view on Influencer marketing?
I’m having a love-hate relationship with influencer marketing. I believe that influencers can create amazing content, if you select the right person. They give you a piece of their creativity, and add value to the products you sell. I’ve done some collaborations with influencers last year, and I loved working with all of them! I think the reason for that is that it was all very informal, but very personal. I genuinely appreciate their style and they genuinely like my brand. I love collaborations like that.
But I think the term ‘influencer’ can also be widely misused. Not only do we have a great abundance of fake accounts with fake followers, there’s also a lot of ‘influencers’ who drastically overrate themselves. It’s like: “So here’s a picture of me in a Gucci skirt, please send me free stuff”. I bet every brand has received messages like this. It’s extremely important to carefully select the people you want to work with. Do research on their content, engagement and followers.
What would be your number one Instagram tip as a brand?
Photo courtesy of @Chloealyshea
Uniformity. When creating the concept of your brand, you must create a corporate identity. With that you determine your style. That style needs to drip off of everything you create online and offline. So make sure that your posts are in line with your identity, but also be surprising every now and then…
Name three Instagram accounts that inspire you:
This girl rocks. Not only is she a model for her own blog, she’s also a good photographer. Her sense for fashion and style is awesome, and her outfits always look effortlessly cool. Her style is minimalistic, almost unisex, and always edgy. It doesn’t ever get boring. We did a collaboration last year, and she created some amazing content for me.
The feed of this interior design agency is just perfect. I really appreciate their feed, because it’s so uniform. And even with some surprising elements every now and then, it still has that uniformity. I basically feel calm and content just by looking at their feed. I think their sense of style is incredible.
George is one of the most talented photographers I know. Each of his photos is art. Everything melts together: perfect lighting, perfect pose, perfect feeling, perfect aesthetic… He’s experimental with textures, materials, but also with composition and posing. And it just always works. Masterpieces every time. Besides his amazing talent I really appreciate his authentic cheeky-ness and honesty. He shows real character. All in all he inspires me in a lot of different ways.
Photo courtesy of @bienphilty
It’s not often we get such a good insight in the thoughts that went in to the creation of a brand and it’s collection so I hope you enjoyed the Q&A with Berdine from BERDINE and be sure to give @Berdine.shop a follow on Instagram for more inspiration. Our next guest in the series will be the “Tom Hardy” and multi talented Luke Martin a.k.a. Perpetualpaces