Lene Nortoft, Danish Fashion Designer, Social Entrepreneur

Lene Nortoft

Welcome to the theTextStyle

Where are you from?

I am from a small village at the west of Jylland close to Tarm and Skjern.

What is your background?

I have a MA from Aarhus and Copenhagen University of Middle Eastern Studies / Anthropology. For a decade I have worked in private businesses with sales and marketing. When I was young I was volunteering in the fair trade movement and kept this interest close to my heart throughout the years.

When did you start designing clothing with African fabrics?

Recently I got the chance to travel to Ghana and when a small artisan in Accra was complaining of struggling with having enough customers I decided to take action and use my online sales skills to help him out. We now have a collaboration of designs. And I have since then expanded my team of artisans there.

What was the project that you enjoyed the most?

I enjoy every minute of this adventure. Fashion is such an accomplishing creative endeavour. You get to play with colours, shapes, culture and trends in society. All of which makes my heart tick. On top of that I have met the most incredible and talented people both here in Aarhus and in Accra, Ghana.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a designer in the 21st Century?

The biggest challenge today for a designer, I think, is fast fashion. It is built to make a huge company function. The way it produces and encourages an unrealistically high consumption is not sustainable for the workers in the producing countries or our planet. But it takes time for people to decide to pay more and buy less. And to choose ethically made products. I am optimistic though. What we do in theTEXTstyle is, we make sure the manufacturers are paid a good salary, and also we are using the small left-over pieces in other designs. To have zero waste. We are looking for organic cotton and will use it as soon as it is available in African print.

Why did you decide to join Aarhus Makers?

Aarhus Makers is very much in line with slow fashion with a focus on small artisans and creative people, who don’t have the advantages of a big business. Together we are stronger - and when it is built as a coop platform also - we really are all together in making it a success for everybody. And for our customers we make it easier to find our often quite unique creations. Hopefully everybody will enjoy the beautiful artistic products.

What piece of advice would you give to anybody that wants to become a maker?

My advice to someone who wants to start making their own designs? Get started - don’t think too long about it. Just do your best, develop along the way and start networking with like-minded people. Always keep a positive spirit and be patient.

Rebekka Koefoed, a mixed media Artist

Rebekka Koefoed, a mixed media artist

My motto: Nil desperandum (never despair / never give up)  

Where are you from?

Jeg er ÆGTE, indfødt Århusianer - født på Trøjborg for 52 år siden (1965)

I am a true native Aarhusianer - I was born in Trøjborg 52 years ago (1956)

What is your background?

Har efterhånden et længere CV – men den røde tråd er alsidig, kreativt skabende og håndværkspræget.

Jeg er oprindeligt, uddannet dekoratør / visuel merchandiser hos Salling Århus.

Throughout the years I’ve built a rather lengthy resumé, but the red thread is versatility, creativity and craftsmanship.

Originally, I trained as a Decorator / Visual Merchandiser at Salling, Århus.  

What was the project that you enjoyed the most?

synes egentlig at jeg nyder de fleste projekter… men for at nævne et par stykker:

At få tildelt residency i Berlin i en måned – at få arbejdsro og tid til fordybelse – luksus!

Da jeg (og en go’ kollega) etablerede pop-up Galleri F, i et tom butikslokale i Frederiksgade

At sidde i bestyrelsen i kunstnersammenslutningen ÅBNE DØRE og artmoneyNORD

…og meget mere!

I really enjoy most of the projects that I do, but to name a few:

I got a residency in Berlin for a month - getting time to work and contemplate - that’s luxury!

When a colleague and I, created pop-up Gallery F, in an empty shop in Frederiksgade.

To be on the board of the artist associations ÅBNE DØRE and ArtmoneyNord.

… and lots more!

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a painter/artist in the 21st Century?

At blive et (aner) -kendt navn -  at både skille sig ud, men også at blive taget seriøst, indenfor kunstverdenen – vi er rigtigt mange om buddet (også bare i ”lille” Aarhus). Der kommer hele tiden nye, spændende og dygtige folk til og jeg synes vi konstant bliver bombarderet med disse nyheder, skiftende trends/døgnfluer, fra alle sider - og denne trend- og zapper-kulturen gør, at det kan være svært at holde fast i længden, at være med helt fremme.. og samtidig give plads til at gå i dybden.

The challenge is to become a recognised name - to stand out and to be taken seriously within the art community - there are many of us (even in a “small” city like Aarhus). There’s a constant influx of new, exciting and talented people coming to the industry, and I also feel we are bombarded by news of ever-changing trends and fads from all directions - this constant focus on change and trends means that it’s difficult to stay current in the long-run, all the while still leaving time to truly get in depth with the work .   

Why did you decide to join Aarhus Makers?  

Jeg synes Aahus Makers tegner til at blive en supergod platform for os, lokale MAKERS – et seriøst og kvalificeret fællesskab, hvor der er lagt op til at trække på hinandens erfaringer, evner og netværk…at løfte i flok – at give og at få!

Selv, mangler jeg simpelthen evner og hjælp til bl.a.: markedsføring, salg og promovering. Fremtidige samarbejdspartnere kunne også være en berigende ”sidegevinst”!

– så at være en del af dette fællesskab, OG være med fra start, glæder mig – og jeg er meget spændt på og åben overfor HVAD Aarhus Makers kan komme til at betyde for MIG!

I believe Aarhus Makers is shaping up to be a great platform for us - the local “Makers” - a serious and qualified community, where we can draw upon each others strengths, experience, skills and network… we are stronger together - and to give is to receive!

Personally, I really need help with marketing, sales and general visibility. Also, future partners and collaborations could be a really pleasant perk!

So, to be a part of this community, AND to be onboard from the very beginning really excites me - also, I’m eager and open to see WHAT Aarhus Makers could eventually mean for ME!   

What piece of advice would you give to anybody that wants to become a painter?

MAL/SKAB dét du brænder for – gå ikke på kompromis med din ”stil”, hold fast i DIG selv. Bliv ved med at udvikle dig og vær nysgerrig. Spørg, undersøg…Giv dig selv udfordringer – søg antagelse, optagelse whatever - mos på… Vær forberedt på at ”dét” ikke kommer let alt sammen, æd de bitre nej’er, men tro på ja’et!

Sørg for at komme ind I en eller anden form for fællesskab med ligesindede, f.eks et fællesatelier  – dér er der altid meget godt at hente: et større netværk, go’ sparring, muligheder for lave større fællesprojekter osv

Nil desperandum (fortvivl ikke/giv aldrig op)

PAINT/CREATE exactly what you are passionate about - do not compromise your “style” and stay true to YOU. Keep evolving and be curious. Ask, investigate… set yourself challenges - and keep steaming ahead… be prepared that “It” doesn’t come easy - meet all the rejections head-on, but believe that one day you will get a “yes”!

Make sure you join a community of like-minded people - like a shared studio - there’s always so much to gain: a bigger network, someone to spar with, potential for collaboration and much more.

Nil desperandum (never despair / never give up)  

Karolina Pleczyńska a passionate Interior Designer and Painter

Karolina Pleczyńska

An interior designer

Where are you from?

Poznan, a beautiful city in Poland.

What is your background?

I have a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from Poznan University of Technology . I have completed 2 semesters of this degree  at Politecnico di Milano.

When did you start career as Interior Designer/Painter?

I have always been in love with interior design and have always been doing little side projects  for my  friends and family, but my professional career has started in March 2016 with internships in two great interior design studios in Poznan. Afterwards I chose one of them and worked in there for another year.

My first professional experience as a painter was  when I participated in an exhibition here in Aarhus that took place in August 2017. I have attended various art courses since I was 4 years old, but that was the first time I have painted something not for a grade.

What was the project that you enjoyed the most?

Oh that's the most difficult question here :) I have a couple of favorite ones, each due to its own reason but I guess the one that is the most unique is the kids room "Boys 3&5 yrs". I designed it while I was already in Denmark and it was the first time I had a chance to realize the project myself and see what happens after handing out the technical drawings to the construction crew.  Together with my boyfriend we constructed and assembled all the furniture, painted the walls, built the hangers and cut a lot of new shelves using pieces of old closets, spending hours in Godsbanen wood workshop. Not having anyone  to supervise our work was quite a scary experience!

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a painter/artist in the 21st Century?

I think it's the constant obsession of challenging ourselves that went slightly too far in our society. Thinking that what is difficult is automatically better. I have found myself a number of times feeling bad or guilty for doing something I know and I am already good at (thanks to years of mastering it)  instead of reaching for something new, unknown, magically "challenging". The more it doesn't fit my natural predisposition, the better.  For most of my life I haven't even considered using my manual skills as my potential career because it always seemed too easy and not enough. I spent 3.5 years studying Architecture rather than Interior Design just because The Academy of Art didn't seem as challenging as The Technical University.

Something coming easily to us today doesn't mean anymore that we have found a way to use our natural potential and that we have reached a certain level of ability in that particular topic that allows us to actually enjoy what we are doing.  Today it usually means that we are in the cursed "comfort zone", which we should escape from as fast as we can, best into a fresh new topic that might not suit us at all, and it's only advantage might be that it's new.

I think it's already difficult enough to find our true self under the mountains of information that we are flooded by every day, we really do not need  that illusion in the way. The simple, easy thing that is growing in us since forever, that might seem boring and "nothing special" for us, can be something out of this world for someone else. And if it comes easy to you and you like it, it might just mean that you are made for it.

Why did you decide to join Aarhus Makers?

To be honest you were the first ones mentioning "interior design" since I am in Denmark. This profession does not really seem to officially exist here, so once I saw it on your presentation I already knew I will do anything to join! And of course it is also a great opportunity not only to promote my art but also to make some very useful and very enjoyable contacts :)

What piece of advice would you give to anybody that wants to become a painter?

Just do not let the pressure of becoming an Artist with capital "A" get to you. Instead of looking around trying to understand what people expect from you as a painter, look inside of yourself and just transfer whatever you find there.  When it comes to art, I believe that honesty is the key to success!


Ida Marie Lebech, Visual Artist

Where are you from?

I live in the south of Aarhus, in Fløjstrup Mark.

What is your background?

I graduated with a degree in urban and landscape architecture from Aarhus School of Architecture in 2008.

When did you start working in the arts?

I have been always painting. At the time when I was at the architectural school, I developed my own style that seems very characteristic and recognizable in my works and projects. The so-called red thread.

What was the project that you enjoyed the most?

My projects and works vary greatly in scale. I enjoy celebrating the the projects where I collaborate with others, or when I find myself learning, those projects are fun and inspirational.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for an artist in the 21st Century?

There are many challenges to be an artist. They help drive ideas forward. Therefore, if there was no resistance, the art would not be there. We are not more challenged than before, it's just that you have more to navigate in.

Why did you decide to join Aarhus Makers?

Aarhus Makers is a fantastic new initiative that creates a framework for an inspirational and new way to be an artist. The fact that it is an online platform and a close network with others within the field of work, creates a foundation for dynamic development. And that we can jointly spread the knowledge of creative souls in Aarhus is very strong.

What piece of advice would you give to anybody that wants to become an artists/maker?

Do you want to be an artist? Just do it! With all of your heart and who you have around you. Do it!

Kate Demeter - Fashion Designer, passionate about recycling
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Kate Demester

Eco-Fashion Designer

Where are you from?

I am originally from Budapest, Hungary.

What is your background?

I came to Aarhus 5 years ago and started studying at Business Academy Aarhus. I lived here for a year, but I decided to change my education and go for my all time passion: fashion combined with marketing. At that time,this faculty was only available in Copenhagen, so I moved there to study.

Since then, I have lived in England and Hungary as well, but I was wondering about coming back to Aarhus all the time.

Now, after my comeback, I study Entrepreneurship and Marketing here.In September, a breakthrough idea  came to my mind,combining being environmentally friendly and fashionable: a repairing service that repairs clothes, bags, and only uses leftover materials including second hand leather, fur, and quality cotton.

When did you start your business?

I am quite new in the business front because I have started Kate Repairs Co. in  late September, 2017. It was a fairly easy process since we talk about a Danish system, but the decision to REALLY go for it, took me years.

What was the project that you enjoyed the most?

All the creative energy starts flowing inside me when I create the bags and when they are ready, everythung gets a meaning. If I repair something, I like the blouses and dresses the most. Also the spark in the eyes of the customers when their most favourite item gets repaired. It is the best feeling, to give something valuable back to them. It is not easy in the 21th century providing something truly valuable. But I also know, that I can get easily get attached to certain clothing items, and if they break, I feel sad and don’t want to get rid of them. That’s why I have this solution along with the environmental/sustainable factor.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for an artist in the 21st Century?

Starting up is difficult. It is not only about the competition or the capital (lack of it); you , as a founder have to be a pro at everything if you want to decrease the expenses. And it might sound purely capitalist, but if you want to make money from art, you have to know a bit from accountancy, law,tax system, etc. It is important not to be naiive or overconfident, but find the balance between value and costs. Also,as an artist, you have to find out your own core capabilities and what you are best at. Online and offline as well.

Why did you decide to join Aarhus Makers?

I look at Aarhus Makers as an opportunity and a great community be a part of. I decided to join because this initiative represents all that I am and want to work for: all for Aarhus, the art, community, helping others and staying local.

What piece of advice would you give to anybody that wants to become an artist/ tailor?

Baby steps are good, and yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Be patient, learn from your mistakes, be even more patient; network and find your inner peace.

Anca Craciun - Artisan and crochet designer

Anca Craciun

Artisan and Crochet Designer

Where are you from?

I am from Romania.

What is your background?

I have an educational background in Finance & Accounting, with a BA in Finance and Banking and two MScs, one in Financial Analysis and one in Management Accounting and Control. My professional background is in Accounting, with over 3 years’ experience as a Junior Accountant and Accounting Assistant. Since I came to Denmark, I worked as a part time cleaning assistant while I was studying and I also did some volunteering – in Lærdansk IT Café and a creative shop in Hasle.

When did you start creating your products?

It was around 6 years ago, after I came to Denmark. Moving from a hectic and often too busy schedule in a crowded, time consuming capital city like Bucharest, to a clam and quiet little village near Aarhus gave me the opportunity to rediscover myself and find what makes me happy.

Even with school and a part time job, I still found the time to experiment with different hobbies. It wasn’t crocheting at first, I started with jewelry making using polymer clay and a lot of different DIY projects. Then came learning how to knit and crochet and eventually deciding on designing and crocheting toys and accessories for babies. I would say it was and still is a process, shaped by everything that happens as time passes.

What was the project that you enjoyed the most?

I must say I usually enjoy all my projects, it would be impossible to do them otherwise because they require a lot of time and work. If I had to pick something, I would say everything I made for my daughter, because I was looking forward to seeing her reaction and how happy she would get.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a painter/artist in the 21st Century?

I would say that mass-production and over-consumption are the biggest challenges, as a lot of people nowadays prioritize quantity over quality and do not think beyond the product they are buying, to see how sustainable it is and how to eventually make a more conscious and ethical purchase. It is unfortunately a mistake we all make, sometimes without even realizing it.

Why did you decide to join Aarhus Makers?

Because I find it to be an interesting project that focuses on promoting creativity and supporting the local community. It creates a common voice of the small local businesses of artists and crafters, providing and environment where people can be motivated and inspired by one another.

What piece of advice would you give to anybody that wants to become an artist?

I would say “set you creativity free”. Even if you didn’t discover your talent yet, do not stop exploring. I see creativity as a therapy, it allows you to rediscover yourself and it opens your mind for new positive thoughts and ideas. The ultimate goal shouldn’t be a material one, but your own happiness and contentment.