Gelatex X NO/AN
Our story goes back to the summer of 2018 in Helsinki. Anna from NO/AN met Gabriela from the Worth project and got inspired by the different collaboration and networking opportunities Worth could offer. Later in autumn 2018, Anna had a closer look at Worth’s website and found the Gelatex company. They were developing something very interesting and similar to what Anna had been looking for a while: An affordable eco-friendly, leather-like textile that comes in rolls and different colours. Anna decided to reach out to Mari-Ann from Gelatex to discuss if NO/AN and Gelatex could possibly collaborate in the frame of the Worth project. Quickly Anna and Mari-Ann decided to apply for the Worth project in order to be able to continue developing Gelatex and make bags and accessories using the material.
The birth of the project
We wanted to create a timeless and stylish handbag collection that is made from an eco-friendly textile but has the same characteristics as leather. A collection that could one day replace a leather handbag collection. The collection is eco-friendly because it is made from waste and no toxic substances have been used in the process. There is also less waste in the production since Gelatex comes in rolls and the quality can be uniform and controlled in the production. The collection will be manufactured in a family-owned atelier in Portugal and this way we can also support a small European manufacturing company.
The creative process
The material development was done from Gelatex´s lab and pilot-production space in Tartu and Tallinn in Estonia and the creative work was mostly done from Anna’s studio in Brussels. Anna and Mari-Ann were in touch throughout the whole project duration discussing everything regarding the project. We discussed what qualities the material should have, what should be the colors and decided together that the design would be minimal, timeless, and unisex. It was also clear that the design would have for NO/AN typical double handle which gives the user the possibility to carry the bag in different ways. The designs changed step by step depending on what possibilities Gelatex allowed us. In the beginning, the designs were slightly more complex than at the end of the project. This has to do with that the material did not yet give us a lot of freedom. Therefore, we also decided to add cotton canvas to the styles in order to make them more durable. The collection became a bit more colorful than we had originally planned thanks to Gelatex who had managed to make different beautiful colors just before launching the prototypes. We are happy with the final results and looking forward to making more prototypes once Gelatex is even more developed.
The collaboration was smooth and organized. Both partners saw eye to eye in many things. It was very interesting to get to know the other partner’s business and we learned from each other.
The next step is to continue to develop the Gelatex material. Once the material is completely ready, we will be able to make more bag samples to complete the collection. The collection will be presented during the design fairs in the frame of the Worth project. During the fairs, we hope to be able to get useful contacts and also meet potential buyers who would like to buy the collection. We will need more funding in the future in order to continue developing Gelatex and make the collection bigger. Our first production will also require some financial support.
Even though sometimes international collaboration projects can be time-consuming next to other business activities, then it is definitely very useful for individual growth but also for business competitiveness. You can share ideas, contacts, and learn a lot from each other. Collaboration helps you to discover new sides about your product or business and it opens up new opportunities.