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.