- Hello Alonya! Tell us a little about yourself.
From a young age I was always interested in art and design - I took art classes from a very young age, then in high school took textiles as a 7th subject at Frank Joubert in Newlands (which is where my love for textiles began), and ended up studying textile design & technology at Cape Tech ( now CPUT). After my studies, I worked in the fashion industry for ten years in various positions - first for a footwear and accessory importer, then started my eight year career at Levi Strauss. I started at their HQ in Cape Town, then in 2007 I was lucky enough to travel with the company - first a 3 year stint in Brussels, and then as the global accessories designer for Levi Strauss in San Francisco, up until August 2013.
- Whoa, that’s quite a journey. And how did Cape to Cali come about?
It was always a dream of mine, but I was too busy working in my “real” job, which was very demanding time- and travel-wise, which left little time and energy for anything else - and then, I had two HUGE life changing moments. First, I lost my little sister to brain cancer; and second, I became a mom - two very different experiences, both of which make you realize what’s important in life. So, from a desire to be home with my baby girl (and being a creative, I needed an outlet), I decided to take the plunge and see if i could do it! The response has been amazing! I’m so overexcited! And think the best is yet to come!
- Quite a bittersweet set of experiences. That’s why you give a percentage of your profits to a cancer foundation, which is admirable. Family is obviously very important to you - what else do you love?
I love textiles that have a story. I love beautiful materials and colors. I love travel and learning about different cultures. These things all influence me every day. I’ve been very lucky to be exposed to so many beautiful places and cultures…from Croatia to Belize, Thailand, Hong Kong, New York, Milan, Paris, London, and LA to name a few. I have seen (and gotten to shop in!) many places because of my job, so I’ve been exposed to some of the most amazing textile influences.
I also love the idea of local crafts becoming important again, and people taking an interest in old/”forgotten skills” like shoemaking and tailoring. It’s about building new communities and making us proud again. I am especially proud of the movement happening in SA - in the USA, ” Made Here” has been happening for a while. When I went home to Cape Town in September I was sooooooo impressed with the world-class local talent we have. I am *so* excited to be part of this movement - bringing local manufacturing back to SA, and showing the world who South Africans are !
- We’re so on board with that! Which brings us to Cape to Cali, and the lovely things you make. Tell us about them?
I make various home and fashion accessories - bags , purses , clutches , beach mats, napkins , cards…and I hope to add more items into the line as Cape to Cali grows…I have big plans .
- We don’t doubt that for a second! But we have to ask…the Cape, or Cali?
I have to say I can’t choose which one - it’s very much both for me…I will always be a Capetonian, and it will always be home…but there would be no Cape to Cali without the Cali.
Hmmm…we’ll let that one slide since our militant Cape Town love has been completely won over by your fab fusion pieces! Pretties, if you race over to the Cape to Cali Hello Pretty store right now, the first four purchases today will get a little something extra thrown in with their order! You can also get in touch on Facebook and on Twitter.