Nana and Fabian Greiser are a creative couple from Southern Germany. Nana is a sustainable fashion designer who runs a lifestyle brand called Nana’s which doesn't follow fashion seasons, trends nor statements. The company writes its own rules and creates strictly-limited collections for people who want to express their personality and individuality. Fabian is the founder of a design studio called Buro Fur Design. Nana and Fabian are real life ambassadors of creativity and BOONJI (POSITIVE ENERGY DERIVED FROM CREATIVITY)!
Nana, could you tell us about your childhood, did you grow up in a creative environment?
I grew up in the countryside in a village outside of Munich with lots of space to play. I don't really consider myself growing up in a creative environment. However, I was a really lively child and my parents realized that the only time I could stay focused was when I was doing something with my hands. So my mum taught me how to crochet and knit when I was in primary school. Later she introduced me to her sewing machine. So in the end it probably was creative...
Fabian, you and Nana live in Southern Germany, can you talk about your hometown and what’s it like living there?
Living and working back where your roots are is great. When I was younger I always wanted to move and get away from there, but then – due to traveling with basketball and seeing a lot of different places – I realized, that southern Germany is just flat out great. We live next to the mountains and yet super close to Munich for getting that urban feeling... You can easily have a great hike in the Alps within 15 minutes and by the evening be home or in Munich for a party-night with your friends. Me and my wife enjoy that a lot. Also, the Bavarian culture is amazing, we have a lot of festivals and a great tradition of food and beer – who doesn’t like that!
Nana, when did you realise that you want to live a creative life and use your talents to make beautiful things?
I used to sew lots of stuff for me and my girls, such as bags, dresses and shirts. I’ve never thought of following this path living a creative life. My parents, being kind of strict here, wanted me to have a decent education and so I decided to become a teacher. 8 years went by without even touching a sewing machine – still crazy when I think about it. I rediscovered my passion for creativity 4 years ago. In 2013, I came across a crucial crossroad. I lost my job as a teacher causing my steady life partly falling apart. Shortly after, I lost a really good friend in a car accident which changed my view on life as it had been. I scraped my last money together, bought a sewing machine and drifted off into another world. I was sewing so much that I even broke it. Creativity helped me to cope with my losses but also helped me to adopt another view on the world. Suddenly, I realized that something really beautiful came around in this unstable time. That was the moment I wanted to live a creative life.
Fabian, could you share with us how you got into design and when you started your own company?
I was always attracted to beautiful, well-designed things and loved to create, build and draw when I was a kid. Thanks to basketball and skateboarding, where urban-art has always been a big part of that culture, I got deeper into graffiti and an urban lifestyle. After an education in media design and studying graphic design in Munich I worked for a design agency near Munich. That’s when I realized I wanted to start my very own design studio where I can work and act the way I think. First, I started to work as a freelance designer for a local company and in 2013 I opened my very own design studio. Today, my employees and I work along my philosophy of design.
You started a sustainable fashion company called Nana’s. Could you share with us your journey so far and also tell us a little bit about upcycling?
It all started 3 years ago when a woman asked me to rent an old auto stop with her. It was Fabi who urged me to dare this step. He is so forward thinking. He sees things they don’t even exist yet. So I trusted him and I started my company. From that time on he’s been supporting me with everything he could. He is amazing. The following years Fabi, my family and my friends all came together to support me in building my company. We changed the car stop into a really nice atelier with a shop, did photo shoots and even created a website and a lookbook. Basically, it is more a lifestyle brand, than a fashion label…
Upcycling is a creative reuse of waste materials which are transformed into new products with good quality. The goal is not to use new material but work with what is left over. Especially in Europe with all the huge fashion houses there are so many leftovers from former seasons. In Rosenheim we are lucky to have a shop whose owner sells left-over cloth from brands such as Max Mara, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana. I also collect old cloth, especially coat cloth, from old ateliers or private collections. Then I try to combine two or more cloths together to create something brand new.
Fabian, can you talk us through the main steps of your creative process?
Everything always starts with browsing through books, the web and taking stuff in like a sponge. After that I start with sketching out rough ideas and scribbling down thoughts. I try to find analogies and similarities for my creative task. After a while working on a project I shift into the “zone“ – that’s the moment where I lose every connection to time and space; a moment of pure creativity and perfect work-rhythm.
Nana, you don’t really believe in following fashion trends. For you, is designing clothes more about creating unique, beautiful pieces that can stand the test of time?
For some years now fashion trends have been changing brutally fast. Not one month goes by without a new fashion hype. I don't like this development. For me fashion is wearable creativity. Of course, a fashion trend gives you space for finding out what you want. Coco Chanel once said that beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself. So go on and wear yourself. Don’t wear something just because a group of people says so. When people come into my studio they find unique pieces which all reflect something else. Sometimes it’s the material which is so exciting and sometimes it’s the shape which is in focus. They always choose something that underlines a part of their individuality. That ́s what I love – and that is exactly what nana'S is all about.
Fabian, what part of the process do you enjoy most when you undertake a design project?
I actually enjoy several stages during a design project: The brainstorming and sketching out rough ideas, as well as the “zoning-in“ on a project. I also love to present our ideas to our customers - and when they can connect to our ideas it fills me with great joy.
Nana, where do you find inspiration for your collections?
Shortly said everywhere: on the street, in magazines, in nature. The world is full of inspiration. Ideas just pop up in my head. I don’t really know where they come from. Wherever I am I try to take in as much as possible. I think I pretty much scan my entire environment all the time :-)
Fabian, what would you say sparks your creativity and helps you to come up with design ideas?
My key for good, creative work and great design is staying open to everything around me and letting a broad variety of experiences influence me. I wander around, talk to different people, see new things, brows books and the web, etc. On the other hand, I need to be by myself doing sports. Being active helps me a lot to stay sharp in my mind and focus on my design ideas.
Nana, from coming up with an idea to finishing a piece, what is your favourite part in the whole process of creating a garment?
The most exciting part is the moment I touch a cloth. Texture sets my ideas free. One can say that I see with my hands. Then I go to work. I draw some rough sketches. Since there is a shortage in material most of the time I only have one shot. As soon as I thought every single step through I go to work and then I’m off in my universe of creativity…
Fabian, if you could change one thing about your profession what would it be?
Actually, I would not want to change anything…
Nana, what main challenges do you face as a sustainable fashion designer?
The main challenge is that I try to reuse as much as possible. There are too many clothes in the world which leads to an economic and ecological problem. And every season there is more to come. That’s why I decided to create only small lines with 2-3 pieces in each size or even just unique pieces on demand. That’s a great challenge for me and for my customers because sometimes I must tell them that I don’t have enough material for another piece. That’s not really part of the zeitgeist in which we are used to get everything right away.
Both you and your husband are creatives. Do you guys constantly bounce ideas off each other?
Of course - that’s a great thing about our relationship. We love to talk to each other about everything and sure, ideas are a big part of that.
You guys love travelling, how does travel play a role in your creativity?
Well - traveling is huge. There is nothing better than visiting many different countries and seeing new stuff all over the world… It opens our eyes and leads to great experiences. We learn a lot about other people, ourselves and each other. For us, it is impossible not the travel when living an open-minded lifestyle. And also it’s kind of an essence for creativity.
Nana and Fabian, the spirit of Boonji is to support and protect the creative. Is it important for you guys to support other creatives and if yes, what roles do you see yourself playing?
Of course! We always try to encourage people with good ideas around us to follow their guts and get it done! A couple of years ago we initiated a market for creatives in our area of Rosenheim. We call it “holy craft – market for young design“ which takes place twice a year. Here we connect creatives and designers in our region and show the world around us, what is happening right around the corner. Fabian’s design-studio helps young brands to evolve their creativity and become stronger in their vision. And Nana regularly gives workshops at schools teaching children different ways to unveil their creative potential. We try hard to pass on our knowledge and our experiences to others. We see ourselves as ambassadors of creativity – emphasizing the importance of creativity in our environment.