Tag: Success story

Christina Donskov: “A Model Is a Model Whether She Wears a Size 0 Or a Size 14″

For the great majority of us, when we hear a term “model” we instantly start thinking of a tall skinny lady with the pale face and neutral facial expression. We start thinking of someone extremely thin and, naturally, someone having manly figure rather curvy and feminine. Christina Donskov, 26, is a Danish model who breaks such presuppositions associated with models: “A model is a model whether she wears a size 0 or a size 14”, says she, who herself is working for a model agency in Copenhagen, Denmark. 
Miss Donskov

Models, who are employed to display and advertise commercial products have always been the center of attraction and jealousy. They have also been a point of discussion for many centuries in a row as a number of women claimed they cannot imagine how a piece, shown on a runway, would look on them as models usually look much skinnier and taller than potential customers. It seems that standards of 90-60-90 and 172cm have changed (yay!) and therefore plus size models now have the opportunity to step on a catwalk proudly. “First of all I don’t really like the term “plussize”. It has such a negative vibe to it and it makes being curvy sound so bad”, says Christina Donskov. “Besides that working as a model is a job, and the job is the same whether you are a curvy or a regular sized model. So why even have the term plussize? Perceiving a model as no “regular model” just because she is not a size 0, like me, is just wrong. A model is a model whether she wears a size 0 or a size 14. Besides that a size 0 model does not represent the average woman in any way, and no woman or girl can identify or live up to this unrealistic womanly body ideal. Having said that I do not wish to see the size 0 models disappear, I just wish that the model and fashion industry included and embraced diversity in modeling more. We all have different body shapes, so why not embrace that in the fashion industry as well?” she asks with a smile.

Model

The way of being a model

“Last year, 2012, I modeled in a plus size fashion here in Denmark”, starts Christina. “Prior to that I had not done any modeling, but modeling in this fashion show got me some model jobs here and there. Then in February 2013 I modeled in Carmakoma’s fashion show during Copenhagen Fashion Week produced by PEEPERS DENMARK, and meeting with PEEPERS DENMARK and the CEO Mica Oh was the startpoint to a career in modeling”, explains Christina, admitting that every photoshoot, fashion show, styling and location is interesting for her. “I always find things that inspire me at every photoshoot or fashion show, being the atmosphere or surroundings, just as much as I find inspiration in what I wear and how I am styled. Of course I also have my own personal style, and therefore I sometimes get even more excited when I wear something for a shoot or show that I would love to own myself, are we not all like that? The facts is though, I really love and appreciate the inspiration I get from working as a model. I get inspired by designers, photographers, models, styling, clothes, the surroundings and so on, and getting all these different types of inspiration is something I appreciate very much. It is part of where I get inspired, not only professionally but also personally.”

Inspiration

It is thought that models are “empty good-looking dools” (heard it once from a friend), yet Christina can also break this stereotype pretty easy. Without modeling, she is also a singer and writes her own music. “I study in University of Copenhagen, where I major in musicology, so music makes a big part of my life and I could not life without it”, she explains. She simply seems to be fortunate to be good at both areas that somehow complement each other. “I think that being able to express yourself through art, whether this is music, photography or modeling or some kind of other form, is a very valuable talent”, she agrees with me. “Not only do you use the creative side of your brain, but you also express yourself and embody feelings. I think that being artistic is very valuable and something we need to remember to focus on in today’s society and not turn away from.”

Red lips Christina Donskov

The value of a role model

The need of role model, especially for young individuals, have constantly been emphasized of a number psychologists, claiming that younger generation tend to observe someone’s behavior in order to change their own, as the person serves an example. Christina claims that her goal with the modeling is make women understand that they are beautiful regardless of their size, since majority of women constantly worry about their body shape. ”Modeling is not only a job for me. Modeling is also a way that I hope to inspire other people. I came to realize that being a model also means being a role model and I am truly honored if I can help make a change in the way that women and girls perceive themselves.”

Knowing that the average woman wears size 40 EU/10 US, Christina says that she feels and understands the sharp difference between skinny models, walking on a catwalk, and regular fashion customers. “I hope that being able to see women that look like women, with womanly curves, will help to make a change and reduce the unsatisfied thoughts about one self that fill up so many young girls and women. So yes, modeling means a lot to me, because I wish to show these girls and women that a curvy and womanly body is beautiful, explains Christina.

Shoot for the moon

A motivational speaker and former Ohio politician Leslie C. “Les” Brown once said that one has to shoot for the stars; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. Christina Donskov is obviously the one on the way to the moon due to brilliant “targeting” and planning skills. “I am very goal-oriented and I have an overall vision of what I want in life. Sometimes life throws things at you that you are you are not prepared for. Some of them are good and some are bad, but all you can do is to accept it, learn from it, and make the best out of it”, explains she with the smile and adds the phrase her mom would usually repeat:  “What does not kill you, makes you stronger”.

Swedish Designer Emelie Svensson About Danes: “I Think They Talk A Lot About… Asses When Trying On Clothes. I Like It”

Emelie Svensson is a Swedish designer, who works and lives in two countries: Denmark and Sweden. After being asked to tell a little bit about herself, she humbly answers that she’s a fashion designer graduated with diploma from ESMOD International (l’Ecole Supérieure des Arts et techniques de la Mode) in Paris and Berlin. “34 years old and feeling younger but wiser every day”, she adds with a smile. 

Designer Emelie Svensson

Designer Emelie Svensson

Designers career is generally perceived to be extremely creative, yet very hard and fierce, especially thinking about competition in the industry. How did your career path as a designer started?

My path took it’s own sort of way when trying to get my parents to choose it for me when time came to choose direction for upper secondary education. I didn’t dare to make it myself. They refused of course. My choice was art as topic and Textile & Fashion my second choice. I made it to my second choice due to less accommodation traffic which made me realize after a week that this was it. I belonged here among scissors, threads and pins.

Career path… Why designer? Who inspires you most and how did you decide that design is your path? Did you have any doubts about your choice?

Designer is a profession that includes struggle. The path is not set for you even if you’re considered to be a talent. Your talent is viewed by those who like you but fashion is a matter of taste. You can be loved today and hated tomorrow, all depending on who’s judging you. Therefore it’s very important to trust in what you do and not get confused in making a great success or fame. Then it can easily become failure. Doubts lie within this thin line. I don’t believe in balance in life so I call it to keep sanity. Fashion is madness. Sometimes you feel like a one man band trying to keep all instruments playing in harmony at one time.

I have doubts every day but that’s why I love what I’m doing because I keep doing it.

Inspiration usually comes from people I meet or things I read. My last collections ”Neon in Black” and ”Luminous in Black” where both about light and colors in different aspects from one to another. I’m very interested in shades as a subtle ”reading in between the lines” kind of approach when it comes to transparent materials.

We make decisions all the time everyday that leads us to the next choice and we like to believe that destiny has much to do with how our paths will be but I think we see the connections afterwards. I’ve found a bunch of drawings from me as a child showing my own store with lovely clothing inside. I just didn’t realize it’s been there from the beginning. My grandmother was a seamstress and my mother used to draw clothes for her to make. I guess I took that decision before I even knew it.

Foto by Kinnunen

Foto by Kinnunen

Can you please give some insights on the industry? How fierce is it?

The industry in itself is harsh for young people, especially aspiring models. We have to start taking a greater action into responsibility for them since it’s all about their looks. Who takes care of their inner self at a young age? It can destroy anyone starting destructible habits. When it comes to production level the industry is too harsh for workers. I don’t believe the industry can stay the same after having accidents like the recent one in Bangladesh. We can’t have workers making our clothes in unsafe buildings for a minimal production cost. It need to change.

You currently happen to be living in Denmark… How did it happen? Do you like living here, how is that different from Sweden?

I work and live on both sides. Copenhagen is a very spectacular city when it comes to fashion. Street fashion in Copenhagen always gets my attention and a spin to my mind. Little details that stays with me forever.

Foto by Kinnunen

Foto by Kinnunen

How are Danes different compared to Swedes?

My father was a Dane but we never spoke danish at home so I had to learn the language working with them. I knew as a child already that other grown ups reacted differently in the way my father told jokes that there’s a cultural essence which is not the same although it seems very particular. By learning to twist my tongue in order to speak the language I also know now the finest but very important differences.

Danes are generally more up front with strangers than swedes. In Sweden we’re known for being very polite and we don’t say for example ”How does my ass (røv) look in these pants?” to a sales person. I like that. They talk a lot about their asses.

What is your concept? How do you differ from other designers?

Every designer differ from one another depending on your own quirkiness. Unless you’re a copycat which can of course be a successful story. I believe in my own story revealing insights from where I stand in the world. I guess most designers do but for me fashion is more vivid than creating great looks. Fashion is everywhere dressing everybody into appearances. That’s interesting.

I agree with Vivienne Westwood when she says:

”I never look at fashion magazines. I find them incredibly boring. To me, reading a fashion magazine is the last thing I need to do. I’ve got books I need to read. More people should read books”

ES Promo

 

How does your usual day look like?

It seems I have no usual days. It’s all depending what’s yet to be done from yesterday or the day before. I always work even if I’m not actually having my hands on it at the moment.

Your values in life?

I reconsidered my values in life after the death of my father in 2008. He had been sick in Parkinson disease for 12 years so it was expected to come somewhere soon that year as he became very weak. Before I thought of my career to be most important but realized that people you care about and love are the ones to put first on your list before everything else. I’m happy I was done with my fashion education the last years of his life to be with him every day. My mum was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 so I’ve learned to cherish life and be happy in the moments of joy. She was given a clean bill of health in 2011.

An advice for women, who want to have a designers career?

Be strong but humble to those who want to give you a hand on the way up.

Emile Sodyte: Turning Passion Into A Small Business

Everyone has a talent for something and it is totally up to us to discover our own capabilities.  After having discovered what we like and are able to do, we either keep it as a hobby or make our living out of it.  It certainly is best when our hobby can become a source of income, especially if we enjoy doing something so much that we simply cannot separate the line between “hobby” and “job”; it simply blends together. Lithuanian Emile (24), who has decided to earn from her hand-made unique bags, has an opinion about it. “If you want to earn some money from your hobby, don’t wait until someone pushes you to do so, because it might not even happen. Just start doing what you love to do, practice and enjoy”,  she says.

Emile

One-way ticket to Denmark

Emile explains that she did not plan to come to Hans Christian Andersen’s land at all, even though she had heard about the country and  mermaid in Copenhagen.  “At that time, I had a boyfriend who I had dated in Lithuania for a while. He decided to come to Denmark and I simply followed him.  I realized a lot of internationals coming to Denmark have to face such difficulties as finding housing or a job, and for me everything was already done beforehand, therefore I am very thankful for him. Unfortunately, our relationship did not work out, but now I have another boyfriend with whom I am very happy and madly in love”, Emile says.

The creative Lithuanian has always been into art, but she discovered she should find an activity which could give some extra income since she had a debt.  “To be honest, when I got a Danish number for a car, I found myself in big debt. Then I started searching for an activity where I could earn some extra money.  Since I have always been into art, I got interested in making gift wrapper bags.” she explains.  “So I started practising and slowly turned it into my little business”.

Turning hobby into business

Emile is a brave young woman who came to Denmark thinking that she would only stay for a year… “I came to Denmark thinking that I will work for a year, save money for a car and computer and go back to Lithuania”, she explains. “Yet I met a girl who studied tourism in Randers, and got curious about an opportunity to study here. Since I was not interested in tourism, I thought that studying marketing could be an option”.  It was a great surprise for her parents and friends who always thought that the young woman would choose a little more artistic career path. “From my childhood I was a very artistic girl, who was always sewing, painting, or doing some kind of handcraft.  Yet since I chose marketing, I now know how to make my hobbies profitable as I learnt how to market and advertise”, she smiles. “So after I discovered how interesting it is for me to make gift wrapper bags, I started practising and selling them to my friends, who told their friends about them”.

Emiles handmade bags

Emile could be called an artist who can express herself in a number of ways. “Besides making bags, I also sew and paint abstract paintings.  When I saw some sewing machine on sale, I decided to buy one and create some feminine garments”, says she, describing what she has already sewed – a number of elegant dresses, Halloween costumes, and accessories. “I have always been passionate about sewing Halloween costumes. I remember some time ago I organized a theme party, but a couple of my girlfriends didn’t come because they did not have a costume. Since then, I began sewing different kinds of costumes. It feels so good to dedicate your time and then see the whole finished result, even though it takes a long time”, claims Emile, who usually dedicates about 8 hours of work to make one bag, which she sells for 220 kr.

“Even though some people don’t really understand me, I think I see the world in a little different way.  I like being an artist. And I like to be different”.
“Are you still in search for your passion?”, I ask. “I am”, says Emile. “But I know where to find it.”

If you feel like taking a look at gorgeous Emile’s bags and purchasing one, visit her Facebook profile: here

Photo courtesy of Ramona August

Latvian Ieva Zelca: When Lust for Challenges Leads To Getting a Job

A passionate traveler, blogger, marketing coordinator and entrepreneur-to-be, Ieva Zelca (24) looks at her life as one great adventure which will provide her with new challenges that she is craving for. After having left her home country Latvia and having lived in the United Kingdom, France and USA, she calls herself a global citizen who is addicted to traveling. Just because it’s so natural to her, just because it has became her lifestyle.

Photo courtesy of Ramona August

Photo courtesy of Ramona August

Wild Soul

Ieva has probably been born a cosmopolitan. She seems to be able to adapt and get used to new places in a relatively short time.”I knew that I wanted to move around and live abroad since… forever”, she starts laughing. After she finished her high school in Riga, capital of Latvia, she moved to the United Kingdom. Then afterwards to France, back to Great Britain, to Denmark, United States of America and back to Denmark…

“My first aim was to study at France but my French was not articulate enough to take a full education,so I decided to go to England to study International Tourism Management and go on Erasmus Exchange program to France, just to enjoy the country that I’ve been dreaming living in for a long”, she explains. A choice of going to a Business School in France for the second year of education was made and no other options even needed to be considered.  ”I spent the whole year in the South of France. Without a doubt, it was the best studying year ever. It has been a wonderful experience, after which I had to come back to Great Britain to continue my studies”, said Ieva. Unfortunately, not everything went as smooth as it should have. Having finished a degree in International Tourism Management she found that most of her friends from the year above were unemployed for more than half a year “Since the majority of my friends were unable to find jobs a even longer time than half a year, I did not want to waste my time doing nothing. I ended up searching for possibilities to study further and I found a course that I liked: Aalborg University in Copenhagen, Masters in Tourism.”

Road to success

Numerous projects in university has lead Ieva to explore what she likes doing most in her education: marketing, communication and PR. “I was happy I could direct my education at what I wanted to do, so I mostly focused on management, marketing and PR courses that I could take. After finishing the first year we had an option to find an internship, so I decided to try much luck in the Big Apple”, she said.

The application process was long and tiring, yet it paid off as Ieva got a dream internship. “I was very lucky to get an internship in a marketing company in Manhattan. It was pretty much a dream come true… I had fallen in love with New York when I got a bachelor degree finishing trip to US. Certainly a week in New York City was not enough, so I was extremely happy to have gotten another chance to come back”, she said.

Instead of staying for six months, Ieva got an opportunity to stay longer. A couple of days before leaving United States she got an offer to prolong her internship. “I said if you pay me double, I’ll stay”, she starts laughing.

Back to the land of Queen

Ieva said  that going back to Denmark felt worse than she had expected since she was missing New York so much. Having spent last month backpacking across US and Canada and returning to the real life was hard, especially being greeted by the long winter after surfing in sunny California just few weeks ago. “Back then Denmark felt cold and miserable… Especially since I wanted to stay in the US a little longer but my VISA was only valid for one year. Yet there was someone who made my return to Denmark a lot more pleasant, so I decided to give Aarhus a chance”, exclaims Ieva who right after she went to Denmark started applying for different positions in Aarhus and Copenhagen. “In around a month I understood that it’s a no-go. There are so many people who apply after having seen the job offer, and I decided I have to think creatively”, she said. “I looked at companies that have international profile and are fun and interesting having potential to go abroad, where I could help with that. I got interested in Hummel, found the HR manager and suggested to meet”, reveals Ieva. “I met the HR manager, and in about 3 or 4 weeks later she wrote to me that they have a position that I might be interested in. She contacted me on Friday evening, on Monday morning I was meeting one of the managers, on Wednesday I had a meeting with another manager, on Thursday I got a job and on Friday I signed the contract. My advice to graduates who are searching for a job is to find the company that you like, not the job openings that companies have”, she explains.

Yet what about that “someone”? “When I was still a teenager, I used to be a swimmer. Once I had a competition in Denmark where I met a Danish boy that I still kept a contact with all the time. We visited each other, went traveling together and became good friends. After I finished education in Great Britain and started studying in Denmark, it had been two years since we last met each other. We only started dating just before I moved to US for my internship so we decided to stay just as friends. But it so happened that during my year away we realized that there was something…  And this made my decision to return to Denmark a lot easier”, she explains smiling.

Optimist by nature

According to the German writer: Ruth E. Renkel, you live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted. It seems that Ieva knows Ruth’s formula of being happy. “I am interested in entrepreneurship and marketing, so I recently came up with my own idea. Since I like spoiling myself and back in Latvia I do everything what I can: massage, nails, get a new hairstyle, I thought that such services in Denmark are a little pricey. I think that in Denmark price is too high for a relatively poor service, at least in my standards”, explains Ieva. “Since I wanted to promote my country and my hometown, I came up with an idea to provide good quality, high-end SPA service packages including flight tickets for cheaper prices in Riga”.

Being back in Denmark, Ieva is taking an advantage of what Aarhus has to offer. Either new winds – or simply her lust for challenges causes her to take part in even more activities. “I have recently applied to volunteer position in Tall Ship Race just for fun”, she shares. ”Currently, I am networking and trying to get more friends in Aarhus.”

“Are you happy now?”, I ask. “Very happy”, she replies smiling mischievously only with her lip corners, probably thinking about the new adventures that are still awaiting in the near future.

Lauren Bowey: Sustainable Products From Australia To Denmark

At the age of twenty Australian Lauren Bowey got a working holiday visa and moved to London, where she started working in animal rights organization PETA. After she met one Danish man, while he was visiting London, she decided to try something new and decided to move to Denmark, where she’s now been living for nearly 5 years.

Lauren (on the left) and her business partner Rebecca

Lauren (on the left) and her business partner Rebecca

Wild soul

“When I moved to Europe, London, I participated in a lot of campaigns and was very active as well as interested in animal rights. Back then, I was an environmental activist and worked as a coordinator in an animal rights organization. I participated in all worthy campaigns, such as ones against bull-fighting activities, anti-fur campaigns and, generally, I was very concerned about this issue”, tells Lauren. “While in London, I met a Danish guy who became my boyfriend and with whom I moved to Denmark. Unfortunately, the relationship did not work out. Yet shortly after I met another man that I fell in love with, Jacob, who has became my husband”, tells her story Lauren.

Entrepreneurship and networking

Being a foreigner in a country without knowing the local language can doubtlessly be difficult, especially when it comes to finding a job. A number of expats face the obstacles in a job market due to the lack of language skills.”I have heard from many expatriates that it is hard to find a job, especially if you do not speak Danish”, says Lauren who also tried living in her homeland together with the husband. “We lived in Australia for a while but finally decided to move back to Denmark. Since I had heard it was difficult to find a job in Denmark without speaking the language, I got an idea to start my own business. I thought that I could connect both countries – Denmark and Australia – and I was excited about having my own business as well as keeping the connection with Australia”, says Lauren.

The Green Suitcase: brands from Australia

“When you get a business idea you imagine making millions right away, but it takes a lot of time and money to establish what you had thought of in the very beginning”, says Lauren. Who, while having ideas of establishing a company, started visiting trade fairs in Australia. ”I tried to establish as many contacts as possible and simply approached companies asking if they would like to have a brand representative in Europe. I established a couple of great contacts with brands that we continue to work with.”

Currently, The Green Suitcase is representing such companies as Apple&Bee, Elk, Messagemark, LoveHate and ALAS: Australian bags, clothing and jewelry. “The ethical as well as environmental values inspired us to choose the products we represent”, claims the entrepreneur.

Success

“I like living in Denmark”, says Lauren. “I love the equality of people here.” And it looks like not only Lauren likes Denmark, but the country is also flourishing due to the activity of positive and energetic people. “This year we participated in Copenhagen Fashion Week, where we had a good time. It was great to meet other companies and network with them as well as find some lovely new stores for our brands. It was a great experience.”

It looks like The Green Suitcase is supporting the sustainable design industry and is becoming more and more popular. “We got very good responses during Copenhagen Fashion week and are looking forward to growing even more”.

You can visit The Green Suitcase showroom at Nansensgade 38, Copenhagen.