What I like about this platform, as I mentioned many times, it's the joy to discover and learn about all these great & amazing conscious brands and the women entrepreneurs behind them who have a passion for ethical fashion and thrives to find solutions to protect our planet and it's nature. Floriana Sandu is a 25 year old Romanian designer and founder of Gnana Studio. A sustainable ready-to-wear handmade clothes, accessories, jewelries and deco pieces company based in Romania. Read my interview with Floriana to learn more about her mission and what Gnana stands for.
Tell us the story behind how your brand came to be?
I had two jobs as an assistant designer when I made the decision to open my own brand. I was working at Ioana Ciolacu for few months and we were talking about my career. She encouraged me to go for my dreams. She's an amazing designer, you should check out her brand, especially her collaboration with Stella McCartney and all her collections.
I am also a vegetarian so choosing not to use any animal products in my clothes came naturally. After working more than 10 years in the industry as a model and knowing it’s insights, I knew the impact of it on people, animals and the planet so, I chose to make something fair for all of us. I’m designing for our beauty, comfort and for the well-being of the planet, not just for the sake of fashion.
Photo Credit: www.gnanastudio.com
You said that you knew what you wanted to do in life at the young age of 4 which was to make people feel beautiful and comfortable by creating art that could be worn. What led you to this realization at such an early stage of your existence?
Being pregnant with me, my mother took this design classes, so I suppose it is in my genes. She was always sewing something when she had spare time and I was around her and her old sewing machine making clothes for my dolls. My grandmothers were also sewers, one of them made Romanian traditional costumes with elaborated embroidery for more than 40 years. I can say I grew up in a very artistic environment that influenced me a lot.
Gnana means "to know". Can you elaborate?
It took me few months to find a name to represent me as a person and the work I do. I practice yoga so I entered in the field of Hindu Philosophy and found Gnana yoga. As the Hindu humanitarian, yogi and mystic Sadhguru sais, Gnana is “the process to sharpen the intellect to a point where it can penetrate through the process of life and show you what is true and what is not true”. That means a constant will to learn and discover the surrounding world and the inner world.
All Gnana's products are cruelty-free and ethically made. Can you share with us the process from the designs, to the fabrics used, to the production of it all?
I get my inspirations from everything that surrounds me. A beautiful landscape, a colorful sunset, the sea foam, beautiful memories, people and the emotions they project. I design versatile pieces for each different emotions such as, for the strength in us, the weaknesses and love. I create pieces that can be worn all day and all night long.
We use lights and natural materials most of them woven locally in a family business named panzatopita.ro and some of them are imported from Italy. Sometimes, I collaborate with specialized ateliers, example, for hand made pleating. We craft the products in our atelier in Bucharest, Romania. I love to sew, paint and create stuff by hand so, our sewing lady and I work together. Everything is designed and hand crafted in our atelier, starting with the clothes and ending with the tags.
Photo Credit: www.gnanastudio.com
How has slow fashion impacted your life?
I grew up with slow fashion. The making of a traditional Romanian costume takes months. I saw the beauty of the process, the emotion you put in it. I consider slow fashion as a part of the creator, it’s something personal, not just a piece of cloth sewn in 40 seconds by a lady from the 3rd world.
Of course, as a teenager, I was crazy about clothes. I was shopping at least once every two weeks. I made a comparison between the traditions in my family and fast fashion and I chose the emotions, the originality and the quality.
Describe your Spring/Summer Collection 2017! What should we look for?
I love Romanian traditions. For many centuries, Romanian women made amazing and elaborated costumes. They worked during the winter and used cotton or linen woven in the villages. I started with the materials and get inspired by human feelings and emotions, but also by the expressions of mother nature. This eco-friendly collection is deeply exploring the brand's values: versatility, naturalness and craftsmanship.
Gnana Spring/Summer collection is light, fresh with little ethnic influences. I used the contrast as artistic process (Romania is the country of contrasts). This line brings hand crafted pieces, light and loose fit beach dresses and trousers combined with safari inspired tailored jackets in digital prints.
The collection is dedicated to nature lovers, to those who dare to be free and creative. Easy to wear and accessorize with a casual but sophisticated twist. Gnana pieces are perfect for relaxed and easy breezy summer days.
Photo Credit: www.gnanastudio.com
What are some challenges you've encountered, if any, since you've started Gnana Studio? How did you managed to overcome them?
It was a challenge for us to form the perfect team. I’m a perfectionist so I want people around me to be passionate and dedicated to our work. We are learning from each other and try to make better work with every piece we craft.
To ensure sustainable and ethical practices within your company, what are the measures taken?
We try to be really transparent about our work. We go for timeless designs and natural materials, our products are totally cruelty free. In the future we plan to go more eco and recycle old items. All the work is made by hand and produced in small volumes, so we avoid industrialization. The waste is selected and send to a recycling company. Our program is flexible and we promote a quality working environment.
Gnana stands for protecting the biodiversity, respecting human rights, responsible manufacturing process and a clean future of the planet.
Your fashion pieces are for the modern women and men who cares about protecting the nature. What should we do to increase the awareness about environmental issues?
Environmental awareness is very important. It creates connections with the natural world and promotes sustainable activities to protect wildlife and precious natural habitats. We just have to stop, listen and feel a little more to understand the fragility of nature. Environmental education helps people understand the consequences of their activities and identifies remedial solutions.
For example, we can feel the dramatic changes of the climate, make an experiment, think and compare the summers when you were young. Breezy and warm, not extremely hot and stormy like now. Open your TV, if you have one, for sure you’ll see news about natural disasters or the polluted waters of China. We have all the information but sometimes, we just don’t know what to do with it.
Start by educating yourself because education is very important. You’ll learn to respect yourself and the life around you. Don’t waste food, clothes, energy or extra water. Be an example for others, people like to be positive, they will follow. Stay up to date with environmental problems, subscribe to ethical groups and/or programs and follow their agenda. Follow the practices of the industries and make little changes in the way you eat, shop or live. Plant trees and don’t write your name on them, rescue animals but never eat them, wear natural materials, eco furs, not microfibers and animal skins. It will make you feel clean and happy.
Photo Credit: www.gnanastudio.com
Tell us something that you would like our readers to know more about Gnana Studio?
At Gnana everything is made of passion. We’d like to show the world a fashionable and ethical alternative of their daily wardrobe. The clothes we wear tell a lot about our personality and psychical state. The Psychology of the Costume is a great, vast and interesting study field. So why not express through all the ways who we are and what we stand for.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I kind of moved in the atelier. I draw, sew, print and paint for 10 hours a day and after I respond to emails. I have fun going out with my friends and make content for the site and social media. I’m thinking about my work even in my spare time. I love and believe in what I do, this is my life.
In your opinion, what's your perception on women's leadership in the corporate world?
We have a special sense. We are delicate but strong at the same time. We are more creative than men, we like to work with people, care more and have good intuition. I think women with their intelligence and sensitivity can make a change in this dehumanized corporate world.
We haven't talked much about your personal background. Who is Florina Sandu and how would you want people to remember you?
I’m a 25 years old traveler and wanderer. At 15, I started to work in the fashion industry as a model. Loved the feeling and the dynamics of the field so, I wanted to stay in. I studied Fashion Design but never finished school. Instead, I took my degree in Fashion Communication at the Communication and PR University at SNSPA in Bucharest, followed by several courses in Fashion Management.
I love to travel, the feeling of a new place, the people and the energy invested to discover them. I was on 5 of the 7 continents and will never stop. I love sports, life and the simple way of living it. The most important thing for me is happiness and freedom of the mind and movement.
What or who inspires you in life? Why?
I’m a visual and curious person, beauty inspires me. I find beauty in everything so I can say that everything around inspires me. I feel free and creative in the nature, I love it’s textures and expressions. Also, human mind and feelings are a deep and interesting field from which I take inspiration.
What's next for Gnana Studio?
We just finished to work at the first collection from a special project that I have with a dear friend of mine, a capsule line designed exclusively for women, named Gnana Kaipsoul. Also, we’re collaborating with local artists for our future accessories line that we hope to launch soon.
Where can we procure your clothes, deco pieces and accessories?
For the moment, we sell our products only through our website at www.gnanastudio.com. You also can find us in local design markets or pop-up stores like Passepartout Cluj.
Hope you've enjoyed this interview and don't forget to subscribe to our Newsletter. If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to write us. Thank you!