Designer Interview

By: Fashwire
Dec 30, 2021 02:18 PM

Did you always know you wanted to be a designer? Why or why not?

Yes! I graduated in product design in France. I have been specialized in handicraft design since 1999, while studying then working in Africa. First, I was based in Cameroon, then since 2006, I am based in Morocco, but I have also done a lot of design consulting in Africa. I am a general handicraft designer. I work on any materials and technics: ceramics, weaving, ironwork… artisans use, for any kind of products: tableware, urban furniture, home ware... But in 2011, I initiated my own brand of fashion accessories made of seatbeltS. I also studied visual communication, which is very useful for communicating on my product design activities.


What was your previous work experience before launching your brand?

As a craft designer, I have been designing varied handcrafted products in Africa, from self-employed artisans to medium sized businesses. I also did a lot of vocational training and consulting at the request of NGO’s and institutions, to initiate artisans and craft managers to creativity, marketing, quality, and to help them promote their activities. Just before launching Alinfini, I had initiated for 3 years for an upcycling program in Marrakesh for a French fair-trade network. We were collecting and upcycling rubber (from used bikes tubes) and turning them into home accessories and furniture. When the program stopped, I just wanted to keep on going that way!


“At Alinfini, there are infinite possibilities for creativity and sustainability.”


What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?

I got a grant from Unesco to develop my final year project a street food restaurant! In Africa, do not expect to get employed as a product designer! Just create your own dynamic with the right people.


If you could do something different before starting your business, what would it be?

I have a good organization and experience in the main fields, but the team is a bit small, and it would be faster with a marketing and sales specialist!


What inspired you to pursue create your own brand? 

Alinfini means in French: infinitely. It is related to upcycling, but also to creativity, meaning there is no limit in both cases. At Alinfini, there are infinite possibilities for creativity and sustainability. Thus, my brand is a way to show my ethics (both socially and environmentally) and my design process. It is a lab to keep on experiencing all-out. It is a medium for building collaborations with other brands or companies. It allows me to gain in durability and constancy, while I keep on designing varied short-term projects for others outside my brand.


What was the toughest circumstance you overcame when just starting out your business? 

The business started by itself in 2011: I needed 2 bags for myself, and I was willing to work more on upcycling, so I designed them, and a sewer produced them. Then, people liked them, so we started producing a small series of each, and put them in a shop locally. At first, it was a one shot experiment, but bit by bit it became a brand! As there was no big deal at first, there was no tough circumstances! A few years ago we had a tough moment when the workshop we were working with closed, but we managed to keep on working with one of the employees who started his own business, so it is nearly the same person who is producing our accessories since the beginning!


“I do not employ people; I remain a designer before all! I work with independent workers and companies, passionate ones. Most of them have been with Alinfini since the start.”


Do you feel working in the fashion industry is different today than from when you started out? Why or why not?

I work the same: at all times, sharp designs, high quality, and reasonable quantities, giving durable and comfy products to avoid disposable and mass fashion. I only got stricter on where to show the brand: no more mass events or places, only slow fashion! Small is beautiful ;-)


How important is social media to your brand?

It is important, not only to promote but to get ideas and critics. Also, because we are based in Africa, it is a good way to interact with the rest of the world!


What is one thing you look for when interviewing a potential candidate for your company?

I do not employ people; I remain a designer before all! I work with independent workers and companies, passionate ones. Most of them have been with Alinfini since the start.


What direction do you believe the fashion industry is headed to?

I hope the fashion industry is heading towards sustainability and humanity.