Antwerp based Solange Cools lost her heart and soul to 'knitwear'. That passion drove her to create her label Scarves & Stuff by Solange, which holds a fashion line (cardigans, hats, scarves, gloves, ...) as well as an interior collection of coarse-knitted blankets, pillows and bean bags.
"It is quite unique to offer both fashion and interior pieces; that is how I differentiate myself, " she explains.
Solange got the knitting microbe through her grandmother and her mother. "As a child, I saw how they made beautiful, exclusive pieces. It did not take me long to get started too. I enjoyed it very much and my friends were very appreciative of my designs. Two years ago, I scraped my savings together and started a webshop. I consider it as a tribute to my mother and late-grandmother. "
For Solange, everything starts with the search for the right thread. The better it's processed, the better the end result. "That's why I only work with vendors who work according to the trace-your-yarn-label," she says. Concretely, every meter of thread she uses can be traced back to the source.
Solange makes both seasonal collections and bespoke pieces. "I created a basic collection on which I build further year after year. My form of 'slow fashion'. She works with both on trend and natural colours, and uses only high quality natural threads like mohair, alpaca, silk, ... But also people who are looking for a special piece come to me. They form the biggest challenge because it is 100% made to measure. It is time consuming and economically less interesting, but it is very rewarding. "
Her collection is characterised by the 'less is more' principle'. Minimalism in its purest form.
"Because of the relatively high price tag, I think it's very important that my collection retains its timeless character and value. Many people have no clue what it takes to create something from scratch. It annoys me how people often handle clothing disrespectfully. It gives me the shivers, especially if you know that innocent people are often exploited in dire conditions. Fortunately, I know that this does not happen for the production of my raw materials. I want to educate consumers in the artisan aspect of my work and the various steps in the manufacturing process before the pieces hit the store shelves."
Solange describes herself as a very impatient person, except when she is knitting. "I'm working full-time as a HR Project Manager, which regularly stresses me out. But when I go home and settle myself on the sofa and hear the soft ticking of the knitting needles, I'm in a world of my own where nothing can bother me anymore."
Logical follow-up question: why does she not pursue her dream for the full 100%? "I would like to do that, but unfortunately, financial reality forces me to work full-time for the time being. If I were to focus tomorrow on my knit wear only, it would undoubtedly create such financial stress that I would make the wrong decisions, which I want to avoid at all cost. Currently, my mother still helps me with the elaboration of the designs and part of the production. My studio is located at my parents' home, in the attic, where I spend many hours in the evening and during the weekend with my mother. Two creative souls who challenge and inspire each other. I feel good about that. "
Creative night vision
Solange finds her inspiration through observing other people; on her travels, at parties, in magazines and on the internet. "When I sleep, I process all that information and I wake up with a pile of new ideas. As if I get a vision. With this I go over to my mother who is an incredibly strong sounding board for me. She is also very technical and has a very good eye for what works and does not work. "
Solange realises that Scarves & Stuff could grow faster if she could spend her time more wisely. "At the moment, I do everything myself: marketing, PR and sales. I would like to evolve into a reputable fair trade brand that is unique, qualitative and timeless. In addition, I want to continue refreshing the brand to meet the needs of the customers. I would like to employ someone in five years to take on some of my duties. And within ten years a team of five employees so that I can concentrate myself fully on the creation process. That seems to me a healthy business plan! "
You can shop for her fabulous interior collection pieces here.