Creating South African luxury with FOUND. collection design duo
FOUND. Collection is a proudly South African fashion label established in 2014 by Stellenbosch designers and stylists Lisa Carinus and Gitte Muller.
It's at the "red line" where we meet these two lovely ladies who began their fashion careers as stylists and turned their love for styling into a fashion brand. Knowing the struggles of starting and running a lucrative fashion business we caught up with them to understand how they've managed to make it work and what it takes to do so.
“We have a very similar creative vision and share a passion for beauty, fashion and design. It is from the overflow of this passion and creativity that the FOUND. Collection was born.
Tell us about you and the founding of the brand.
We both worked full-time as florists and events coordinators while starting our business.
We worked full-time for 2 years (Lisa) and 3 years (Gitte) while establishing our business.
We are both married to farmers.
Our brand is all about bringing women clothing that reminds them of how unique and loved they are.
It’s about more than just the garment itself.
What is your brand essence?
Creating few of a kind, bespoke, luxury, proudly South African made garments!
Our slogan is that you will find a good thing at FOUND. Collection!
The local artisans who make each garment stands at the centre of our brand.
They are entrepreneurs who manage their own businesses and create job opportunities in their immediate communities.
These individuals craft each garment with exceptional care.
It is important to us that we support and uplift local entrepreneurs by giving them greater opportunities for growth.
What are some of the struggles affecting brand owners like you which are unique to South Africa?
Finding good and qualified seamstresses who can produce high quality work.
The online influence still needs to gain trust and growth among South African citizens.
What's your creative process?
The textiles mostly guide us to create the perfect garment.
Then we decide which pattern to use and how we need to chance or tweak the pattern.
We then communicate and collaborate closely with our seamstresses.
"The FOUND. Collection range is feminine, timeless and wearable with a trendy edge. Most of our items are few-of-a-kind, carefully selected for the modern woman. The textiles are meticulously sourced and entrusted to a handful of local artisans who craft each garment with exceptional care. It is important to us that we support and uplift local entrepreneurs by giving them greater opportunities for growth."
What are your brand & personal values and where do these two meet?
We met at the University of Stellenbosch but only became friends after we both worked abroad for a few years.
Thereafter we worked at the same floristry company in Stellenbosch named OKASIE, where we realized that we had similar dreams and the same creative vision.
Our brand and personal values are the same. Our faith in and relationship with Jesus Christ stands at the centre of our personal lives and our business.
We do everything because it has a purpose. Not just to make money and build a brand.
Each client and colleague is extremely important and valuable to us.
We believe our brand reaches further than the physical garments.
It’s all about building relationships and
What inspired the name?
It just came up.
We had a few names but were quite confused.
FOUND. with a full-stop at the end was one of them and the day we entered into our graphic designers office with no clear idea of the name she had to start working on,
but on her desk lay a postcard with a black and white background with the word FOUND. (with a full-stop) in gold on her desk. It was an invitation to an event.
When we saw it, we knew it had to be the name.
It reminds us and our clients daily (when they look at the label in their garment), that there is more to life, and that we should start living as though we were FOUND. and not lost.
What do you envision for the future where the brand is concerned?
We believe that we are going places but remind ourselves that it might not work out the way we envision it.
At the moment we work really hard to create a larger online footprint.
Our hope is that we will reach many people and create more jobs and help build our economy.
Our wish is that our country’s children will be educated and overcome poverty and hopelessness.
If this means that we have to go abroad with our brand we’ll be happy to do it!
-What's your Why? (Both as a brand & as designers)
There’s more to life! There’s hope and LOVE that covers everything in this world.
How has the company culture influenced your business growth & what does it look like?
The fact that we both now work for ourselves gives us the freedom to really be creative in our own right.
Building relationships with our clients opens doors and ushers in exciting opportunities!
We have now started collaborating with other fashionistas in bringing our brand to clients who are seeking a personalized touch when shopping.
We call this exclusive shopping experiences! Our online service also has a personalize touch and hopefully clients will feel the love and come back 😊
How's the online business in South Africa?
It is growing slowly but surely. It’s all about trust. People really need to feel safe when spending on something they can’t touch.
It is also hard reaching the right clientele in cyberspace, but the means are there and we are working hard to find it.
Have people warmed up to the idea of e-commerce?
Yes definitely but as I said it’s all about establishing trust.
-What challenges exist about running an online business?
You constantly have to create a hype and keep inspiring people to keep them interested.
There is sooooo much going on visually, that you need to stand out to keep their attention.
Photographer: He Is Visual Photography –www.heisvisual.com