Businesses evolve. It is one of the most natural things. But being right in the middle of the process of evolving can be quite an experience. It is a strange hybrid-feeling of excitement (because something new is happening) and of a big question mark. While things were moving forward, there was also this absurd voice in my head, constantly asking me if this process could mean I failed.
You will have probably noticed that for the past months, I was quieter – here on thepinklookbook.com and also on my social channels. This was because I have been working on some major milestones for my business Pelagona. In summer 2021, I had the feeling that I needed to take the business a step further. I had started the business with a focus on interior design and already in the first months, I decided to focus on ethically and sustainably produced home décor items. The more partners I found for the business and the more I heard about the stories behind the products and the people making them, the more I knew that I was on the right path. But in that summer in 2021, it felt like I had reached a kind of plateau. The products were great, but I had the feeling that I was ready for something new.
Those who have followed me for a while or who know me in person are most likely aware of my passion for fashion. As long as I can remember, I have always loved clothes. My mum knitted the most beautiful jumpers for me when I was a child and throughout my childhood, I had some pretty cool outfits. (I remember a white-and-pink-striped dress with a tulle petticoat paired with a flower belt and a matching straw hat which I wore at festive occasions.) When I was in primary school, I started sketching fashion designs and even my “mini-thesis” for graduating high school was an analysis of how fashion expressed political views in the Nazi period and in the 1960s. For me, fashion was always more than just blindly shopping for brands. I love going to museums like the V&A in London, browse through fabric archives and learning more about fashion history. I want to understand how certain trends and movements came about and how clothes are made.
Because of my ties to India, naturally, I dove deeper into all the amazing fabrics, garments and techniques of the country. I learned more about Cashmere production, the art of embroidery, block printing, silk, weaving, you name it. It felt like opening a door to a whole other world. At the same time, I learned that many of these techniques and products are on the verge of disappearing. Mass production has made it financially unattractive to work in the field. Many young people move into other industries which offer better money. It just clicked and I thought – why not sharing this beauty, the knowledge about garment production and taking Pelagona into fashion and not helping to preserve the artisanry but also making it possible again for the artisans to live from it?
Looking back and writing this down, it makes a lot of sense. Even though I did not pursue a degree in fashion design or work for a fashion company, I kept following this passion. Even the name of this very website “The Pink Lookbook” is a hint that initially, I had plans to only focus on fashion. (Which I later expanded into further topics such as the interview section or talking about entrepreneurship.) Over the past days I thought a lot about why certain things happen – or do not happen – in life. Last week I wrote about patience and that whenever I forced something to happen, it ended badly. Sometimes, things just seem to fall into place naturally. And similarly, it just felt natural to enter fashion.
Natural, but daunting at the same time. Of course, I did a lot of research upfront. Furthermore, knowing a lot about the industry, I was well aware that it is not the easiest field to enter and to run a business. The fashion calendar asks for a crazy amount of collections, the industry moves fast. But the more I thought about it – my potential customers and products – the more I realized these people are just like me. I do not need six collections per year. I want true craftsmanship. I am willing to save up for a certain item which I will cherish for a long time. And this item should also give credit to all the people who made it and pay them adequately. Why not having a fashion label doing things differently? Forget about the fashion calendar, about “what you are supposed to do as a fashion brand”. I realized that all of this is very closely connected to my mission at Pelagona. So, here we are, let me introduce you to Pelagona’s additional focus: slow fashion.
The idea is simple: Pelagona does not follow short-term trends and we do not overproduce for the sake of following the event calendar of the fashion industry. Instead of mass products in big quantities, Pelagona focuses on selected designs and on handmade high-quality items which are made to last. This process requires a lot of time. Hence, Pelagona produces in small batches to celebrate their uniqueness as well as the traditions which inspired them. Over the next months, Pelagona will slowly drop limited editions of garments and accessories. All of them come with their unique and sustainable approach – for example, a limited edition of jackets made from leftover Indian silk which was used for other garments just went online. Each jacket is glamorous and unique and made by a woman-run atelier which only employs female seamstresses.
It would not be me if this new or additional direction of the business did not come with additional tasks I gave myself. I decided to give the website a face-lift. I dedicated the past weeks and months to a major redesign of the brand, its corporate identity and the website. It was an intense time, a true rollercoaster with a lot of ups and downs, but it definitely pushed me further. I had to move very far out of my comfort zone, learn new things and overcome the fear of the unknown (hello coding). As I mentioned in the beginning of this Postcard, I often asked myself during the process if this new direction meant that I had failed. But the longer I worked on it and the more the individual puzzle pieces came together, I realized that it did not mean failure at all. It just made sense and all the effort and hard work were totally worth it.
I am happy that I can share this with you after these intense and eventful months and I hope you like it as much as I do. Check out the new look of Pelagona and all the new and amazing items we pulled together. And also stay tuned for many more things to come. A big thank you to all the “little helpers” and emotional supporters I had during this process. I could not have done it without you!