The world is becoming increasingly aware of sustainability and animal rights issues, particularly when it comes to the fashion industry. And, one South African entrepreneur, Evangelia Kalaitzi, founder of HealthyWise and the inspiration behind the Evangelia Nina K accessory brand, is creating beautiful, sustainable products that makes it easy for consumers to go ‘green’.
LoA met with founder Evangelia Kalaitzi to find out more about this ethical and sustainable accessory company.
What does your company do?
Designing and producing animal friendly handbags and fashion accessories while creating awareness about the environment, sustainability and animal rights
"We focus on quality functional products that are handcrafted with love without harming animals."
What inspired you to start your company?
Since becoming a vegetarian, I was looking for a beautiful and fashionable animal friendly handbag for my own use. I didn’t find anything to my liking so I decided to design one of my own. I had the concept but I didn’t have the tools and the training, so I signed up for a handbag construction course in order to learn the nitty gritty of the craft. Not only did I enjoy the process, but it also inspired me to create a variety of handbag designs in a range of colours.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
We focus on quality functional products that are handcrafted with love without harming animals. We care about the customer experience and ensuring that our customers get a great product at a great value. By purchasing our products we are supporting our local communities and can focus on empowering those who are less fortunate.
"Our manufacturers are people within our local communities, so whether an individual artist or a team is contributing to the making of our products, we ensure that they are of great quality, made with love and care, whilst supporting the South African economy."
Tell us a little about your team
Evangelia Nina K is working with different local suppliers and manufacturers depending on the skill set needed. Our manufacturers are people within our local communities, so whether an individual artist or a team is contributing to the making of our products, we ensure that they are of great quality, made with love and care, while supporting the South African economy.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I did art in school and was quite artistic, but I ended up studying Information Technology as it seemed the right thing to do at the time. My first attempt in business was painting pottery, decorating candles and selling them in the local craft market. Most of my customers were friends of the family. However, I loved the sense of peace I felt while creating something new. Throughout my journey, I have always created something, from pottery and painting, to cooking and making my own chocolate. But when I saw that there was a gap in the market for what I personally needed, I thought I'd best put my mind and creativity into action. The journey has been challenging and slower than I ever imagined. It has, however, taught me grit and perseverance. Entrepreneurship and having my own business has brought tears, laughter and experience into my life. It has also brought new people, as well as the opportunity to unleash a greater part of me and grow me as an individual. With that I'm proud to say that this journey is only the beginning of the exploration of me and how my business and products can have a greater influence in the world.
"Entrepreneurship and having my own business has brought tears, laughter and experience into my life. It has also brought new people as well as the opportunity to unleash a greater part of me and grow me as an individual."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
Through creating a house brand we want to focus on empowering our local women and men with skills that they can use to take on their own business journey, or find work in the industry. Combining style and African flair we are working to take this brand to international and greater Africa markets. This way we can expand our growth and our ability to change people's lives through environmental and animal awareness, as well as skilling the youth and underprivileged communities.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
The appreciation and satisfaction of my clients receiving their orders. Also, educating the world about sustainability and animal welfare.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Never ever give up. Where there is a will, there is a way!
Contact or follow Evangelia Nina K
Why LoA loves it….
In a world where the fashion industry often doesn’t have the most sustainable approach to manufacturing, it is wonderful to see a proudly African accessory business and brand emerging that puts sustainability and animal rights at the forefront. Evangelia Kalaitzi is to be commended for her ethical approach to fashion accessories, and her Evangelia Nina K handbag brand is a ‘must seek out’ for any handbag lover who also wants to tread lightly on the planet. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and ceo of Lionesses of Africa