Sustainable and Flamboyant
Does your New Year's resolutions include cleaning out your wardrobe? Then you might like this: UnikBlends can transform your beloved used clothing and fabrics into amazing eyecatchers! Clothes which hold a special place in your heart, are still in good condition, but which you secretly only hold on to because of all the memories (not necessarily because you still actually wear them) are given a second life as a new skirt, jacket, pencil case or bag. This allows you to create your own style while using pieces of clothing that are dear to you.
In December of 2015, Christy Aikhorin decided to combine her daytime job with running her own business, UnikBlends. She started out, using her own's traditional African fabrics and those of her family members.
“Everybody knows this feeling: your wardrobe is filled with clothes that you really do not want to wear, but are still too good and beautiful to be thrown out. This is why I started restyling my own African pieces of clothing – they were all too precious and beautiful to be thrown out, and I did not wear then that often in the Netherlands”, Christy explains. “Having been born and raised in Nigeria, I absolutely love the elegant and colorful African fabrics.
I miss seeing these bright, bold and beautiful patterned fabrics in the Netherlands. I felt it was time for me to blend in some color into my daily wear, create my own unique look and share this idea with others.
UnikBlends, makes use of recyled high-quality fabrics, such as used “geles”. These are traditional headties worn during weddings and other special occasions in several part of west Africa. Most of them are worn once before they're tucked away, because every event requires a brand new “gele”. I asked my friends and family to bring these fabrics along when they visit the Netherlands or I pick them up when I visit my family and friends. That's how it all began.“
Mix and Match
Nowadays, UnikBends is working together with designers in Den Haag and Amsterdam. All clothing items and accessories are custom made to size and handmade.
UnikBlends has an assortment of items from which you can pick from, which will be made in a fabric of your choosing. You could choose a bag or an outfit you like, choose the fabric you like – or bring your own, and get an entirely unique item. “For example, cushion pillows, made from sustainable sourced fabrics, can be stuffed with old fabrics provided by the customers themselves-”, Christy explains.
“While most customers initially contact me via UnikBlend's website, I involve the buyer in the process as much as possible. This is very important for me: I truly believe there is value in making things yourself, DIY as much as possible – when you create or recompose something with a personal touch or taste, it becomes significant to you. The energy and effort you put makes the item extra special.... The result is entirely custom-made to your liking – and again it's something you won't throw out easily! In this manner, I want to contribute to the creation of sustainable clothing. Not only by giving the textile an extended life, but also by putting in the attention and quality it deserves".
As mentioned before, Christy works a fulltime job beside running her company, as a project engineer. “When I saw many colleagues in my industry lose their job at the height of the economic crisis, I knew it was time to start working out my creative ideas for UnikBlends. I had no experience with running a company, but I soon noticed how, in essence, the skills I needed were not that different from those I had already acquired as a project engineer. It’s an exciting challenge, one where you try to find the best way to combine price and quality, so that you can offer the customer the best service. I really enjoy doing this. I love transforming creative ideas into a sustainable reality!
A while ago, I read the book Body of Work by Pamela Slim. She describes how you should view anything you do in life as work. You might not get paid for every piece of work, but everything you do should be valued as having a goal or impact – it should contribute to something towards someone else, or for yourself. Whether I'm spending time with my husband and children, working for UnikBlends, or working at the office, I carry this idea with me. I founded UnikBlends with this approach: I want to give something to others with my services, make them happy with a new sustainable product.
My company has been growing at a steady pace since its formation in December 2015. Of course, I hope that my company keeps growing in the future, but for now, my mission remains the same.”
I asked Christy about the best way to style her flamboyant African fabrics, so that the typical – and generally modest - Dutch person can combine them in their outfit, giving it that little bit of spark. “You can perfectly well combine neutral tones, like a black outfit, and a bag with an eye-catching African print. A simple dress – or a t-shirt and jeans for the guys – combined with a striking jacket will make a fantastic fashion statement!
Are you curious to know more about UnikBlends? You can find more information on UnikBlends' blog: Sustainable You. Or shop around on their website, where you can view all the African fabrics and products UnikBlends has to offer.
If you have fabric you'd like to use, just send Christy an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You could also combine UnikBlends fabrics with yours. There are lots of options to customize and create your look!