Photos by Amanda Coen for Ecouterre
Elsa and Me’s perfect little black dress just got even more perfect. The one-size-flatters-all sheath, made in New York City’s Garment District from organic cotton, now comes in vanilla white and midnight blue. We caught up with Maja Svensson, the label’s Sweden-born founder, at a recent release party, as well as in her Brooklyn studio, to get the inside scoop on the genesis of the brand, her design philosophy, and the plans she has in store for Elsa and Me.
Where did your interest in fashion originate?
I’ve always had my own style and I think I’ve always had a very specific style since I was younger. I haven’t cared too much what other people think about what I wear. When I thought about starting my own business, I was more concerned with having a company than thinking about what the product was going to be. I’ve realized I am an entrepreneur.
I realized that you don’t have to be a fashion designer to design clothing.
When I came to New York, I was very inspired. There are a lot of people here doing their own thing and it’s very different from the Swedish environment in terms of entrepreneurship. I got in contact with a lot of fashion designers, and I realized that you don’t have to be a fashion designer to design clothing. As long as you have a visual idea of a design, you can realize it with a competent pattern-maker. As soon as I understood that, I contacted a pattern maker who was recommended by a friend and decided that I wanted to test it out.
I started by making one blouse, one dress, and a pair of pants.
I started by making one blouse, one dress, and a pair of pants. I went into Mood Fabrics, explained my idea, and asked for advice.
How do business models in the United States compare with Sweden’s?
I would say the idea of risk is different here because Sweden’s thick social security system is nice but also makes people very risk-averse. The environment is not as supportive of people starting a company. Rather, it is more questioning.