Holvi Blog for Makers and Doers

Kuosit: Challenging conventions with colourful patterns

Entrepreneurship · 25/05/16 10:52 · Elena Zozulya

Every day we communicate who we are through our clothing. Consciously or not, we all are involved in one of the world’s biggest industries worth over $3 trillion annually — fashion. A Finnish design startup Kuosit has a mission that is as bold as their distinctive patterns. This young company wants to challenge the fashion industry and society’s conventions by celebrating diversity and freedom of self-expression in their colourful designs. We sat down with Kuosit’s co-founder Ksenia Voy Kheninen to talk about creativity, entrepreneurship and ethical apparel.

Kuosit Holvi

What is the story behind your brand?

It all started in 2014 when I was studying engineering. I could have not imagined I would do something in the field of fashion or design. However, I’ve always been interested in art, doing photography and art films, organising exhibitions and small art events. At one point, I noticed that despite my studies going well I felt miserable all the time, except for the moments when I was doing art and photography. This was when I decided I should switch fields and do something more creative.

So I started studying and working in the field of printing technologies and graphic design. Around that time I met my co-founder Lyosha Maiorov, a talented illustrator from Saint Petersburg, Russia. We met online while participating in the same art project. When I saw his drawings I got completely obsessed with them. I suddenly had this idea of printing his illustrations on a dress and making a short film about this transformation. The idea escalated very quickly and we soon decided to start a company.

My first step to starting a company was dropping out of school. I collected some funds to register a company, found a lawyer, bought equipment to make garments and work with textile. At this point, we realised we didn’t know anything about running a business or manufacturing clothes. We experimented with many different things and learned what works and what doesn’t by making mistakes. For both of us, it was a very steep learning curve both professionally and personally. When I started a business, I was really shy and suffered from social anxiety. I had to overcome a lot of fears to get to the point where we are now. Recently, we added new members to our team whom I met at one of the Girls in Tech events. So things are slowly moving in the right direction.

Kuosit_holvi_4

What’s the passion that drives your company forward?

When I tell people I work in fashion, I see a lot of prejudice against this industry. This is not surprising given that today’s fast fashion is a very cruel unethical industry. When going to startup events, I see so many people solving problems in health and finance, but nobody cares about fashion. Yet everybody does fashion. Considering that it is one of the largest sectors in the world’s economy, people too often underestimate how much it affects our society. Every day each of us makes a statement by choosing to wear or not to wear certain apparel.

At Kuosit, we want to make a difference in the fashion world. We want to involve more people who are not part of this industry. If engineers start designing clothes, the result is going to be something out of the box. We want to show that there is a better way to do fashion. Our bright colourful patterns is our way to empower and liberate people. We want to push the culture forward and break boundaries by standing for the freedom of self-expression, creativity and diversity.

Kuosit_Holvi

What is the creative process behind your patterns?

As our name suggests, [Kuosit means “patterns” in Finnish] we are all about patterns. When we create patterns we don’t try to predict next big trends by religiously following Vogue magazine. Instead we look around and find inspiration in what surrounds us. We use Italian fabrics on which we then print our patterns and use them to make our garments. We also make accessories, for example, notebooks and phone covers.

Kuosit Holvi

Kuosit was selected to participate in the Helsinki Pride 2016 opening runway show with a new clothing collection alongside big Finnish fashion names. Can you tell more about it?

We try to cooperate with different organisations and projects that support our values. The pride parade is a carnival of diversity, so it’s a natural place for us to be. We are going to present a new 15-piece fashion collection at the Helsinki Pride 2016 opening runway show. All garments will be sold at the auction and all raised money will be donated to the organisers of the parade. And this is why we are now looking for supporters to help us raise money to order fabric for the new collection. We are running a crowdfunding campaign until the end of May, so if you want to get involved, please head to our campaign page today and help us make a world a more equal place.

The Pride collection reflects our values and will hopefully attract more attention to the issues of diversity and gender and will start important conversations around these problems. Even in Helsinki where people enjoy the freedom of self-expression unlike in many other parts of the world, we could go even further and show the rest of the world what the Finnish fashion stands for.

kuosit_holvi_2

You mentioned that you met your co-founder and business partner online. Can you share your experience of starting a business with someone you’ve never met in person?

Actually, we only met in person for the first time one month ago! It was a very exciting moment for both of us. Although we haven’t met in person until recently, we have had amazing chemistry when working together online. It is the first time I work with someone in a creative way and it couldn’t be more rewarding to work with the person who fully understands and supports your creative vision. And I was a little afraid that we might not like each other when we meet in person. But it turned out even better than I had hoped for.

Do you have any tips for other entrepreneurs?

Really, the only tip I have — everything is easier than you think and harder than it looks.

 

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