For the series Good Folk on this blog I have sent interview questions to some really wonderful people who are either making things, running shops, or generally promoting sustainability. I think you will enjoy reading their answers as much as I have, and I hope they inspire us all with the knowledge that there are people doing good in the world!
This interview is with sustainable fashion designer Anke Wonder. Based in the United States, Anke is on a mission to make a better world with her "made-to-be-loved" garments, which are vegan, sustainable and designed using her own original artwork.
Tell me about yourself and the work that you do.
My name is Anke and I am an Artistic Sustainable Fashion Designer from Milwaukee, WI (USA). I call myself an Artistic Sustainable and Vegan Fashion Designer because I am combining my passion for art and fashion with my eco-friendly mission.
I design and sew garments for men and women and also create accessories and home decor with dynamic patterns and bold colors. Very dear to my heart is my 'wearable art garments' where my own acrylic paintings are printed on organic cotton sateen, making them a unique piece of artwork.
When you look at my women's collection you will notice an Octoberfest Dirndl which is a dress that Germans traditionally wear to the well-known Octoberfest in Munich. I included this piece because I am from Germany and moved to the United States in 2018 after marrying my fiance, Erick, who is from Milwaukee. (For me it is a beautiful way to include my heritage.)
Why did you get started and what is your sustainable mission?
Already as a child, I had the wish to become a fashion designer because my Grandma was very talented in sewing and crafting and taught me my first stitches and hand embroidery. That's why I studied Fashion Design in Germany and graduated with honors in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts. But looking behind the curtains of the Fashion Industry is quite a reality shock because it brings awareness to the industry's problems. That's when I decided to create an ethical and sustainable fashion brand with the intention of creating a better future for the planet.
I then founded 'Anke Wonder, LLC' because I saw the need to bring sustainable fashion in bold colors and lively patterns to women and men with unique styles. That's why each collection focuses on timeless and storytelling designs.
I not only focus on sustainable but also vegan garments because I believe that animals don't belong in our clothes in any form. So far, I have mostly worked with organic linen, GOTS certified organic cotton and upcycled materials.
Besides the materials, all of my garments are Made-to-order and Made-to-measure which means they can be sewed in your own measurements if desired. This way your garment is truly only made for you by me and Made-to-be-loved as I love to call them.
What is your favourite thing about the work that you do?
My favourite thing is making other people happy with my creations and work. It truly delights me when I see my fashion come alive through the person who wears it with pride and pleasure. Also, serving a greater purpose and mission for the planet is what keeps me going.
Do you have a motto that defines your practice?
Yes, I have two mottos. 'Ethically and fairly made fashion should be the norm.' and 'Sustainable fashion can be as colorful and fun as we like it to be.'
I follow these in my creations, as it is a self-evident standard for me that my products are sustainable. That's why I only use eco-friendly materials that are ethically made and combine it with an elegant and colorful aesthetic.
How has working sustainably impacted your non-business life?
I believe that having a sustainable business and living an eco-conscious life go hand in hand. Because of my sustainable fashion brand, my husband and I have become even more aware of the daily choices we make and that little things like using reusable produce bags have a big impact on the environment.
In 2020 my husband and I switched from a vegetarian to a whole food plant-based (vegan) diet and we feel that this was the best decision we could have made for the planet and our own health.
In my blog I talk a lot about what sustainability means in the fashion industry and why it's important. Every time it reminds me of how much influence each of us have.
What are you most proud of?
I am very excited about my 'Miniature Collections' which I create out of leftover scraps from my fashion collection for Barbie and Ken dolls. This is my way to further reduce any fabric waste and it's delightful to look back at previous collections. You are also able to purchase the same outfit that you order for yourself as a miniature version.
Besides my fashion, I also had the opportunity to transform my parents-in-law's deck into a Hawaiian paradise through my painting and it's still in progress. In the future I want to continue to highlight the beauty of nature and animals through murals and artwork.
What are your plans for the future?
I believe that sustainability is progress and I am committed to it in my personal and business life. One of my goals is to become a plastic free business in the future.
Do you have any advice for people trying to shop or live more ethically?
For me it's about falling in love with everything we buy and to treasure it like a good friend. This way, you wear and enjoy your clothes for a long time. A great way to do so is to support independent and small businesses that are aligned with your ethical and eco-friendly values whenever possible. Being proud of showcasing your ethical and eco-friendly values is the best way to spread the message. But don't get overwhelmed, an eco-conscious lifestyle should be fun!
What's your favourite thing to do with your free time and why?
My husband and I love travelling and discovering new activities and places. There are three things we always include: an animal sanctuary, a nature hike and a vegan restaurant.
We both love animals and visiting sanctuaries is always a rewarding experience for us. Mostly rescued animals couldn't have helped themselves and seeing them healing and thriving in a new home lights me up every time.
A hike in nature is always recharging and supporting local businesses with the same mission is important to us. We actually became quite the healthy vegan foodies, which is why I started my Instagram account @ankewondervegan.
What would be the top thing that you would change about the way we treat the planet if you could?
I would like us all to live more in accordance with nature and animals and with more respect towards others. I believe that we are all connected and that we all have the right of truthful, honest and science based information. If I could only change one thing, it would be stopping the spread of false information for marketing purposes which I believe would automatically result in many positive changes for the planet.
Where can we find you on the internet, buy your work, or join in?
You can find me and my fashion brand 'Anke Wonder' under www.ankewonder.com.
I'm also on instagram (@ankewonder) and facebook (@ankewonderfashion) and feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm always happy to chat, help and meet other eco and fashion enthusiasts! If you like to get informed about my monthly journal entries, you can also sign up for my newsletter on my website.