You arrived in Tanzania with your husband and a couple of suitcases and started at square one. Would you describe yourself as bold?
I am definitely very inquisitive, but not a big risk taker. I have family in Dar es Salaam, so there was always a safety net. So I wouldn’t call that especially bold, to be honest.
Before that, you and your husband backpacked through Thailand and Laos. Do you believe traveling changes the way you think?
When I talk to people who have only ever lived in one place, I notice that their knowledge of other countries is relatively limited, and mainly shaped by the media. Usually in the negative sense. For example, many people have a completely misguided image of Tanzania. We don’t all get malaria, and there are cafés as well. And, apparently, working as a fashion designer is also an option.
You sell highend hairbands. How did you get into that business?
I landed, looked around and saw that what you could get in the way of clothing was very limited, usually poor-quality pieces from India or China - and expensive, too. At some point, my husband told me about the secondhand market right next to his office. I went and was totally amazed. The clothes weren’t shabby; people just didn’t want to wear them anymore. I bought a completely new wardrobe, received dozens of compliments and immediately thought - this could be so much more. That’s when I began to experiment. One day, I came across a hairband. I didn’t know at first whether it was a belt or a scarf, but I liked the shape. And that’s how it started.
Your hairbands are made of recycled materials?
Yes, I use silk and high-quality cotton, fabrics from around the world, and give them a new home. The things I find are not threadbare. They are seconds from department stores or clothes that people didn’t like and gave away. I’d rather not even call it “secondhand.” That implies something abandoned, unloved.