Go beyond the present, Future Girl!
The year is 2035 and I am alive. I’m even happy. Most of all because I chose the right moment to stop imagining and start acting. And I did it before the world as we knew it ended. There was no big war or earthquake. Little by little, goods ceased to be exchanged for profit, banks boarded up their doors and life in cities was replaced by small communities that supported each other with autonomous electricity, telecommunication, decentralized electronic money and agricultual systems. I didn’t see this as the end of the world or a big revolution or anything dramatic like that. I just packed my backpack with a canister of clean water, a small sun-powered generator, some simple and durable clothes I designed, and a few apples and I went to the forest outside of the city. There were bonfires here and there and I could hear laughter and bass beats. Satellite dishes were attached to fir trees to transmit the Internet and the sounds of fieldwork and hammering rung out. I was home. Alone, but not lonely. And I looked good. At that moment, I understood my role in this world: to ensure the most important condition of creating new humans – love for one’s self and others. I don’t know if that’s how things will go. Despite my visions, dreams and fears, I have no doubt that the future will come. But, for now, it’s still the present – the year 2017. The best possible year, for it is now. And I am alive.
… I come from the time when punk arrived in Estonia and the Soviet influence was pulling back. I spent a lot of time with my grandfather, who was a sculptor and kept everything that was in his studio. Even the smallest piece of fabric would be used in his artwork. At that time, I started to make clothes for myself, always using my grandaunt’s old dresses or textiles from my mother’s closet (she is a textile designer). Studying fashion design was a natural choice, and I started working as a fashion designer in 1997.
Since 2002, all of my collections have followed the principles of upcycling — a process that brings leftover materials back into the production cycle with the help of design. I was (and still am!) so excited about the possibilities of upcycling that I enrolled in a doctoral program and began working on my dissertation: Trash to Trend: Using Upcycling in Fashion Design. My research opened up the possibilities of implementing upcycling within the fashion industry and mass production. This led to creating a community platform for upcycling designers called Trash to Trend.
Since completing my doctoral studies, I have been applying my research to the real world. In 2012, I began cooperating with Beximco, one of the biggest apparel manufacturers in Bangladesh. In my collections, I implement upcycling in the early stages of the mass production process. This has improved efficiency and reduced environmental impact — each item we produce this way uses on average 70% less water and 88% less energy compared to regularly mass-produced items. The production line using the upcycling method was named Upmade® and certified in December 2014. Beximco is a member of the ILO (International Labour Organisation), meaning they are regularly audited for their employees’ working conditions, salary levels and social guarantees.
- One of the Top Responsible Leaders in Northern Europe by the Nordic Business Report (2017)
- The Order of the White Star, class V (2016)
- One of the Top 20 Women in Business by the Nordic Business Report (2015)
- Runner-up at I:COLLECT Award (2015)
- Runner-up at European Business Awards for the Environment (2014)
- Woman of the Year (Association of Business and Professional Women Estonia 2014)
- Notable Young Estonian (Junior Chamber International Estonia 2014)
- Environmentally Friendly Company (Ministry of the Environment 2013)
- Entrepreneur of the Year of the Civic Society (Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations 2013)