writer: Ona Rihu
Pictures: Elina Cerell, Iluut
iluut is a transparent, ethical and mother earth friendly brand built by three strong women with a shared passion - to make a change. Every piece of fabric is traceable, each factory they use is carefully selected and the clothes are made to last. The materials are mostly biodegradable, natural fibres that feel amazing on the skin.
When I got contacted by Elina Cerell, founder, to do a photoshoot for iluut I was beyond excited. To be able to work for a brand that stands behind the same values is truly a luxury. Playing dress-up with beautiful sustainable clothes is like a special kind of heaven for me! Anyhow, over lunch Elina told me a little about her personal background and motivation behind the brand. That conversation really inspired me and I just had to see those words in writing so they could inspire other people as well. So, here's the story:
Where did you come up with the idea of creating a brand of your own?
As a young child my mom always dressed me up very beautifully and her jewellery box was my favourite thing to explore. She's an aesthetician and I become one too. In my early twenties I loved to read catwalk magazines and fashion blogs because they were so full of visual inspiration. But at the same time I saw statistics about the other side of fashion industry: how polluting it is and how many workers suffered the bad working conditions. I started wondering if there could be another way of doing fashion business.
I've been blessed with a great work place, the best marketing agency in Finland (yes, it has been dominated as the best agency already twice in a row). Working there has taught me a lot! One of the biggest lessons has been that anything is doable if you just work hard finding a way to do it. I started thinking about it more and more, whether I could find likeminded people to create something sustainable for the women living in Europe. I made my first YouTube video with the help of my mom and husband. Then I bought a little targeted marketing for the video in the most appreciated European fashion cities. I shortly explained my dream and asked if anyone would love to join the project. I was amazed when super talented print designer Silvia, who has been creating designs for example for Zara, Kenzo (just to name a few) sent me an e-mail. She told me she loved designing prints but would love to do it in a different way. We started having Skype calls and brainstorming about our future sustainable brand. At the same time I went through hundreds of fashion design portfolios and was so lucky to find a newly graduate Vj living in London. Her sense of minimalistic style caught my attention. After our first Skype call to my surprise she sent me a moodboard of how our brand could look like. I was so happy! I knew I found my team and after having a little workshop in Portugal, we decided we should really do this together.
Then I faced the biggest tragedy in my life. Our eldest daughter, Amanda (the name means "loved"), died totally unexpectedly just two days before the due date. I was thinking how on earth could I continue living with empty arms and huge sorrow. One week after her death I told the girls about what happened and said I would love to do something beautiful that would honor her memory. We decided together to start the company and donate 5 % of each product's margin to a school that would be named after Amanda. That way the children in some developing country would receive a concrete action of love and our daughter's memory could live on in a such a beautiful way.
This is how iluut started. :) iluut by the way comes from the Finish word "tuuli" which means "wind", the wind of change that we would love to see in the fashion industry and how we all consume. The warm summer wind is blowing and we just launched our summer dress collection which is in pre-sale, limited time only. It ends on 16.5. Thank you for modelling for this photoshoot, we really truly loved working with you Ona! Dear reader, she looks stunning on the pictures, doesn't she?
can you tell me a little about the amanda school project?
Oh, sure I'd love to! <3 The school will be built in Ghana by the organisation called Pencils of Promise. I was so inspired by the book of the founder Adam Braun where he shared the story how the organisation was built! They work transparently and share quarterly reports how the donations are used. Also, I love how a professional photographer travels to their schools and shows in social media how the schools and students are doing.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become a conscious entrepreneur?
Do it together with other likeminded people because together we are stronger. Even tough consumer barometers state that people want to consume ethically, it doesn't show in the actual buying behaviour completely yet. BUT it's increasing all the time which makes me super happy! So the more people involved, the more people will hear about conscious choice and step by step the effect increases. We learned this when we did our first crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo. Follow your vision and work hard for it.
And lastly, where do you find inspiration?
Such a great question! And my answer is pretty wide: EVERYWHERE!
My biggest inspiration at the moment is our one year old daughter. She is so full of joy and love! As a mother I would love to do my very best that we could live a better planet for her. Sounds a bit juicy, but it's so true. iluut is all about creating beautiful things consciously and that's something I would love to teach our daughter. I want to be a mom who leads by showing example. :)
It's funny but my brain seems to work in a visual mood all the time. Where ever I go, I always see the small beautiful things and often think how beautiful picture would be captured there and there... So it's super inspirational to walk in the nature, explore new cities, eat delicious ice cream, see people smiling, visit flower shops etc. And I know my team mates are exactly the same! It's so cool!
Also, last year I got to know an inspirational lady who quickly became a dear friend. Our children are the same age and as they take a nap, we take pictures. It's so great to design beautiful set ups and celebrate the beauty of life that way! Small beautiful things around us can create so much wellbeing for everyone and I think seeing people happy is worth of all effort.