This week the #supportyourlocals spotlight is shining on the one and only Ellemieke Kavsek, owner of the amazingly fun brand The Dutch Rebel. I first came across her work when my model friend Astrid wore one of her designs in a video I made. It was a jacket with a broken heart painted on the back and big letters spelling the words 'Love Sick'. I was fascinated and after tagging the Groningen based brand on Instagram Ellemieke and I got in touch. A while later she visited me in Rotterdam to take her portrait and this season I got to photograph a fine selection of her newest jackets! It was so much fun! And of course I asked her to make me a custom Landa Penders design (find a photo later in this article) and I'm soooo happy with it!
In this interview Ellemieke is sharing the story of how she's always been busy with vintage and making art. Creating a career where she can combine fashion & art is a dream come true! Keep on reading to learn about her insecurities, biggest career highlights and her aspirations for the future.
Can you tell me more about your (creative) business?
The Dutch Rebel was established in 2016. I was searching for some new inspiration, and I came across some tumblr aesthetic pictures of girls with jackets that had some sort of text on the back. I thought to myself: 'I can do this'. I went to an art store nearby and bought suitable paint that I used on a jacket I already had at home. It worked out quite allright, so I created more. When I finished two pieces that I was really proud of, I sent an e-mail to Stardust, a vintage, remade store in Groningen, and asked if they would like it to sell some of my jackets in their store. I didn’t really expect them to even respond, but they responded after a couple of days and were very enthusiastic. That month I delivered about ten jackets to Stardust, and they sold out within one month. From that day on, they are still quite populair at Stardust. The designs I make are often 70s & 80s inspired and are all one of a kind. I sell denim jackets but also leather jackets.
What are your passions and how would you like people to know or learn about them?
My passions are vintage, drawing, designing, music, fashion and the 70s. I have always been very interested in the 70s because of the freedom people had back there. If you take a look at the famous Woodstock photos, you can see girls walking around completely shirtless and nobody seems to make a big fuss about it. I like that. Since I went to high school, I dressed differently from a lot of other people. I was one of the first at my school to wear Dr Martens, and I can remember how everyone said my shoes were weird and big, but I didn’t care. A few months later literally every girl had them. Such a shame, haha. About music: I can’t live without it. When I’m at home and it’s silent, I feel so bad. I’m a big fan of Arctic Monkeys and George Michael.
What's been the highlight of your career so far?
Modefabriek, for sure. &C Talent invited me to have my own stand for two days at Modefabriek in Amsterdam. It’s an event where people from all sorts of companies come together to socialize and gain contacts. There’s also a wide audience walking around between the stands. I brought 8 jackets and 3 empty jackets so i could do a little bit of live-painting. The first day all the jackets were sold to a couple from Ibiza with a quite famous store. They also ordered 3 more. I also talked to a couple from Germany, they stopped by my place in Groningen later to buy a couple of jackets. It was so awesome, I’m still in touch with a lot of contacts I gained there.
What does your average workday look like and are you happy with it? What would you like to improve about it?
When I have a target I’m working towards (like: paint 10 jackets in one month), I’m really motivated. I get out of bed around 9 and just start painting right away. Sometimes I have a design ready that I want to make, sometimes I’m still brainstorming about it while I’m painting the subsurface. I can produce about 3 jackets a day if I work really hard. What I would like to improve? Well, if I get more request I don’t think I will be able to keep doing it all by myself. But I’m such a perfectionist, if I’d let someone else paint my jackets I think it would be so hard for me to keep my mouth shut or just take over. My style is my style and if there’s someone out there in this world that has a similar style and is also really perfectionistic: you’re very welcome.
What are your favorite ways of taking good care of yourself?
I love it when I had a busy day and I can just sit down at the couch alone with a cup of hot tea, and watch a movie or series I really like. I love romantic movies like Notting Hill and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but I’m also a big big big fan of Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean. The series I love most and can watch all over again every day, are That 70’s Show and Friends.
Do you have a favourite brand or a person you admire? What/who and why?
I love little brands from the US & UK like The Hippie Shake or Miracle Eye, but I never bought anything because It’s quite expensive. I just really like looking at it, because the items are so beautiful and they post amazing pictures of the products. I also really love Urban Outfitters, especially their Vintage Renewal collection. A person I admire is not really someone specifically, but I have a lot of respect for girls that have their own company and just know they are gonna make it. They don’t give a fuck about what people say, and they are just being themselves. I still think it’s hard to stand up for myself and just say: 'Hello world, here I am, I’m gonna do this and your opinion will never bring me down'. I’m very sensitive for negativity. It will always be in the back of my mind if someone said something hurtful.
Do you like getting your photo taken? Got any tips for people who feel insecure about that?
No, I hate it when people take a picture of me. They always shoot me in the wrong angles, so I look very fat or my head looks like some sort of bowling ball. I’m not kidding, haha. When people at parties or elsewhere take a picture of me when I’m not paying attention, I can sometimes even be a little mad at them. I just really hate it when I can’t ‘prepare’ myself for it. I really don’t have a tip for someone that feels that same way, because I haven’t figured it out myself yet.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
That I should listen to my heart. It’s very cheesy, but true. In the past I made so many mistakes because I was always thinking: what if people judge me for my choice? Now I know that it doesn’t matter, people will judge you anyway. If you just listen to your feelings, you will deep down know you’re right. This advice was given to me by my dad, and also just by myself. I pushed myself to do it this way.
What’s next for you? What are your aspirations or ambitions?
I really don’t know. There are a lot of things still unsure for me. I haven’t completed a study yet, but I kinda don’t want to. I just want to focus on my business, but I don’t have that much money to invest. I would really like to have a little store somewhere nearby Utrecht. Or a little office somewhere, so I can work somewhere else than at my little home. I would also like to have a few collections getting for sale in other stores in Holland. Oh, and of course a webshop. I still haven’t figured out how to make one yet. Working together with other freelancers would also be awesome, or people that want to expand their portfolios.
Jackets - The Dutch Rebel. Photography - Landa Penders. Styling - Studio XO. Make-up & Hair - Mahzad Mirzaei. Models - Esther Breedenbach & Chelsey R.
Keep an eye on Ellemieke and The Dutch Rebel & perhaps get yourself a unique jacket! If you have additional questions for Ellemieke, do not hesitate and post them in the comment section below. In the meantime follow @thedutchrebel on Instagram and check out the website - www.the-dutch-rebel.nl!
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