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Being an entrepreneur and small business owner, I love to hear success stories of talented people who started companies, with the goal to make a difference and to to bring something new to the market; people driven by a vision, a passion, a curiosity, and a determination; people with a mission.
Today I would like to introduce you to Ellinor de Val, a Stockholm-based architect and designer with a huge passion for textiles. She created her brand Fouta de Val in 2011. She designs fashionable, multi-use towels called Fouta that she sells in her online shop as well as to retailers around the world.
I wanted to know more about Fouta de Val’s concept, its history and the woman behind the brand.
Q: What inspired you to start your shop?
A: I started the brand aside of my career as an architect. I was travelling in the south of Europe, and saw that many people there used hammam towels. I found that the Tunisian version, the Fouta, was the nicest type of them all.
The history around the Fouta was also very interesting – A multi-use towel that had been used for centuries in everyday life. It was made of soft cotton in the most beautiful colors and could easily be folded into a little piece, -simply genius. I had the idea to mix this amazing handicraft product with Scandinavian aesthetic and color palette.
Q: What sets your shop aside from it’s competitors?
A: We have a close collaboration with our producer, which enables us to do develop our own woven prints. We have a small scale production and work with a soft type of Egyptian cotton of very high quality.
Q: Who or what influences your style? To what do you attribute your wonderful aesthetic?
A: With a background in architecture and fashion, I’m always inspired by the things around me. It can be anything from art, movies, graphic design or places and cities like Stockholm, my hometown, with its changes of the seasons.
I also find inspiration from different parts of the world. Our latest collection was inspired by an old travel journal with pictures of the Kenyan savannah and the Mexican countryside. I just came back from a trip to New York and who knows, maybe that will be the next source of inspiration.
Q: How do you find the pieces/products for your store?
A: I do a lot of research to find new ways of developing the fouta, with new sizes and materials. Right now I’m thinking of expanding with a range of complementary products, but its still very early in the process.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face with running your own store?
A: The biggest challenge is to balance the work with Fouta de Val with my work as an architect. Both demand a lot of energy and creative thinking.
Q: What do you love most about having your own store?
A: I love the variety in the work. I do everything from designing the products, to graphic design, branding etc. I also like the fact that I get to meet and collaborate with a lot of talented creative people, photographers, customers etc.
Q: What are you proud of?
A: I’m proud that I managed to start something like this from zero on my own. I think the products stand out on the market as they have a fair price and still are of very high quality. Our aim is to design foutas with timeless looks that last for more than a season. I would like Fouta de Val to stand for a sustainable way of thinking.
Q: Do you have any special projects in the pipeline or exciting future plans?
A: We have some really exciting collaborations coming up in the near future. We will be represented by one of the worlds leading design platforms, something that we hope will bring a lot of attention to the brand.
Q: What are your favorite pieces/products at the moment?
A: I’m really in love with our latest collection, our geometric print foutas Eliza & Maya. I really think they represent the essence of Fouta de Val, Nordic simplicity mixed with innovative patterns and traditional handicraft. They took a lot of time to develop technically but I’m really happy with the result.
Check out Fouta de Val’s beautiful collection here!