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Aiyna : grand-mother and grand-daughter creating sustainable bags in North of France

Elise Dabas
Mini-Sahel bag

E– “Hello Lucie, could you Please introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Lucie, I am 23 and I am the founder of AIYNA. After high school I studied law during a master degree and had the chance to go abroad on an Erasmus exchange. This wonderful experience really opened my mind, made me think a lot and helped me develop my independence. The return to “normal” life in France was a bit harsh : I continued my studies with a master degree about History, in order to become an auctioneer, but I couldn’t really picture myself doing this anymore.

So, I took the decision to leave everything and start my own project: AIYNA. Thanks to my grandmother’s help I created my accessories brand. I am very passionate about fashion and it is a real pleasure to work in this industry.

E- What is Aiyna and how did you come up with this idea?

The idea of creating my own brand of handbags made of straw marquetry came from my grandmother. She is self-taught and has been doing straw marquetry for 20 years for decorative art. She has been teaching me this technique for years: when I was a child, I created small items like bookmarks. During summer 2019, rigid bags were really trendy: my grandma and I decided to create one in straw marquetry. It was only for myself and there was no commercial idea whatsoever but I really enjoyed creating it and it gave me a lot of ideas. This is how I decided to create AIYNA.

My grandma is still very present in my creations, she gives me green light for all my patterns and she helps me make my ideas come true.

Lucie and her grand-mother working together

E- How do you find your suppliers ? Is it a lot of work ?

When I created AIYNA I had to find suppliers but also I needed help regarding accounting and my website creation. I didn’t learn during my studies how to manage all the aspects of this adventure. Concerning the supplies, I had the chance to benefit from my grand-mother ‘s network. The straw I use comes from a french farmer who dyes the straw himself. The wood also comes from a French supplier. In order to be better supervised in this great adventure, I turned to the BGE : they support me with accounting and communication. Sometimes it is hard to manage everything on my own but my mother and grandmother are always ready to give me a hand when I am overwhelmed.

E- Which one of your creations is your favorite item?

I love the Zebra pattern bag in the new collection but I have a deep affection for the very first bag I created with my grandmother.

E- On your website you emphasize the Made in France and promote a better way of consuming, it seems these things are essentials to you, right?  

I really care about the environment and its protection. While I was studying law, I really enjoyed environmental law. Unfortunately, most of the time, often because of money, respecting the environment comes second. This is why I use sustainable natural material and try to avoid leather.

Lucie with one of her creation

E Black Friday is happening this week, where do you stand on this matter?  

Black Friday is an opportunity for each brand to promote itself …but I do not like that people are spending a lot of money on things they will certainly not use. I chose to do differently: on my website there are discounts and free shipping AND, most importantly, a part of the profits will be given to a charity fighting for women. I wanted this day to be a positive one, with a positive impact for everyone. 

E- On your website, among all the pretty products, we can see a bag called “Lady Boss”: is woman empowerment important to you?  

Women often question themselves,  but what they really should not doubt about is their capacity to adapt and to make their dreams come true. One of the biggest engagements of AIYNA is self-confidence: we want to help women to feel good, to feel powerful.  

I chose the name AIYNA for my brand because I really liked this name and its meaning : self-love. In one of the ELLE editions, there was a recap of this name : “Ayna is a strong and brave woman”.  The first name Ayna can be spelled with an I or Y but I did not want to choose so I took both. 

E – What obstacles did you encounter? 

Three things were really difficult for me. The first was to explain my project and my decision to change my career path to my parents. For sure, pursuing a career in Law is safer than creating a fashion brand, but it is what I wanted to do.

The second one was to face my fear of loosing control and to start from scratch.  

The third one was my lack of patience : I wanted everything too quickly and was not having faith in the process .

E – What advice would you give to someone who would like to start a business?  

I think that the best advice I can give is to believe in yourself and to act without the fear of doing wrong. We should not fear judgement. Looking back, I think that my first designs were awful, but they were the beginning of something. I like to say : ” “It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes”. Let’s focus on the positive things !

 E – You’re right ! So, to finish on a positive note: What is the most beautiful thing in the world for you?  

The sunsets in Wissant (small town in the North of France) 

Sunset in Wissant

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SAPRISTI MAG is an independant exclusive magazine established in Paris, France.

Distinguishing itself from other magazines by its strong values, Sapristi is not afraid to stand up for sustainable and slow fashion, feminism, and pro LGBTQ+ art work. We give exposure to all those greats items created with a better future in mind and showcase amazing creative work. Sapristi aims to position itself as a blend of elegant photography, sustainable fashion, and well-being.