I walk into Una’s house, it’s still her parents house,
after all she’s only 20, but she is planning on moving
out. On the first floor is her parent’s atelier where I
can spot some of their cool art hanging on the walls.
The house just screams art and creativity from the
We go further into the house and get settled
comfortably in Una’s room. I noticed right away
a few really awesome electric guitars, hanging on
one of the walls. Turns out she was in a band but
they are not playing for public at the moment.
HOW DID IT ALL START?
June 2016, right after taking a year in between
high school and uni, I had some clothes laying
around that I wanted to throw away, so I thought
maybe I can still do something with them. I hand
painted them with illustrations and my friends
thought they were so cool that they also wanted
one. So in the very beginning my friends would
give me plain basic shirts on which I would paint.
I noticed that I used a painting I had made,
which was quite inspired by my parents and from
there it became more and more my own designs.
I started asking something like 10 euro per shirt
so I can buy new clothes to paint on, as well as
being able to choose the colours myself. 3 months
later it was going so well that I made it official and
Una’s Original became a company.
YOU GREW UP IN A HOUSE OF ARTISTS,
HOW IS THAT INSPIRING YOU? WERE
YOU ALWAYS INTERESTED IN PAINTING?
I haven’t always been painting but for sure always
have been interested in creating things – movies,
music, photography a little and I love production
the most. And also in my art its not like I paint a
really beautiful and proportional horse but it is
my horse in my style. And of course my parents
are very creative people and we have talked about
painting, what are good proportions and so on.
I have received good advice form them!I also have
my book always with me, where I write down all
of my inspiration. Sometimes it happens at school,
sometimes on the go, and if it’s not with me, then I
would write it down on my phone and come back
to it later. I even got to paint on some Louis Vuitton
bags, which I thought was such a cool experience.
It felt great that people trusted me with such an
expensive thing that I could customise. The process
is so much fun for me! People are scared that you
have this plain white t-shirt and you have the freedom
to paint on it but what if you make the wrong stripe …
I have never felt that I had painted an imperfect stripe.
It was probably supposed to be so the whole time.
THE BUSINESS SIDE…
I definitely learned more about fashion by working
at American Apparel. There were some good quality
things but it was way too overpriced. Especially for
their target group. I learned more about the way
you present yourself and how important it is and
I learned that for example Instagram is a very strong
promotion tool and a very handy one to really
communicate your vision and connect with your
public. I have also worked a little bit with bloggers
mostly with Dutch ones, but I prefer collaborating
with people who I can trust.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MANAGING A
It’s quite exhausting, also because I study and work
part time at De Uitkijk – an arthouse on the
Prinsengracht in Amsterdam. I don’t really have
difficulties maintaining my social life, when I have
made a date and know that I have an hour or two in
between I will for sure use it to work on orders. And
working alone gives me all the freedom of course to
choose designs and colours and I don’t have to keep
in mind someone else’s agenda but my own, so it is
easier to manage my time.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF UNA’S ORIGINAL?
I really would like to have my own store, where I
could potentially work together with friends and
it could be sort of an atelier where we would be
working and a person could visit us and also buy
our clothing. However I also see myself changing
and growing as a person and maybe starting other
projects. Maybe even changing the style of clothes
that I make. That is one of the reasons this project
is still not in action. Another reason is that if I do
change the style of clothes I make, maybe it would
be easier to do that as a one name brand and it
would be harder when having a vision that I build
together with a few brands. Una’s originals is quite
small so I usually work with customised orders, so
I get asked via email, I buy the fabrics and put on
CAN WE BUY YOUR DESIGNS IN A STORE?
I am very curious if people would buy my designs
if they are just hanging in the store and they don’t
know my story – that it is handmade in a small
studio in Noord by someone who really enjoys it.
So I actually made these cute hats and bags that
I gave to the FAC shop to sell, which worked quite
ok, but eventually I think that people find it more
interesting to buy a piece of my collections after
they know a bit of my back story. Anyway we
decided to keep the collaboration going and
one day I found this really cool fabric with zebras
on it, and I thought not only that I want to make
a skirt out of it and wear it, but maybe other
people would want to wear it as well. So right
now you can find these designs at the FAC shop.
Text: Raya Valentine