Amsterdam fashion: At the forefront of technology and sustainability
Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands, is known for its large number of charming and historical canals, quirky canal houses, world-renowned museums and bustling nightlife. The city is also well on its way to becoming a fashion capital of sustainable eco-friendly fashion.
The Amsterdam fashion industry
Amsterdam is home to many popular shopping areas, from the luxury shops in the P.C. Hooftstraat in the museum district to the Negen Straatjes with their many art galleries, boutiques and vintage shops. But, did you know that over 100 fashion houses are actually situated in Amsterdam? In fact, the city is also home to various major fashion labels’ European headquarters, such as Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.
However, that’s not all. Amsterdam is building a growing reputation of being at the forefront of technology and sustainability, with startups concentrating on 3D digital design, new manufacturing techniques, and biodesigned textiles.
Meet Lupin Lime
One such sustainable startup is Lupin Lime, which curates modern limited-edition art jewellery that has been designed and handcrafted by Latin American artists. Company founder and Nyenrode MBA alumni Maia Teler (26, Argentina) tells us about how she fell in love with the city and why she decided to situate her company’s headquarters in Amsterdam.
Why did you decide to come to the Netherlands?
During my bachelor's, I studied one semester in Germany and got the chance to meet amazing people from all over the world, travel around Europe and grow from new experiences. That made me eager to study abroad again and continue to learn from diversity. At the same time, I got to travel a lot and during those trips, Amsterdam became my favourite place, which I kept on visiting in the following years. I fell in love with the city, people and atmosphere.
Why did you study a full-time MBA at Nyenrode in particular?
I got interested in the Nyenrode MBA for the university’s focus on entrepreneurship, linked to stimulating a creative mind and proactive attitude, and discerning opportunities in uncertainties. Growing up in a family of passionate entrepreneurs, this was important to me. I always saw myself as an entrepreneur, taking ownership of my own goals and projects, so Nyenrode was a great fit in my personal journey.
How do you feel the MBA prepared you for setting up / running your own business?
The MBA gives you tools to adapt to different environments, industries, and roles. The courses go from finance and accounting to human resources and value chain optimisation. One really gets a holistic understanding of all business areas.
It is also a unique opportunity to experience and learn from cultural diversity and all the perspectives and insights that come with it. We had 19 different nationalities in my batch. With practical experience in the Netherlands as well as in other six European cities, it is an intense year with many varied experiences that open your mind and prepare you to analyse challenges and solutions from different perspectives.
The Nyenrode MBA programme has a strong focus on sustainable companies with social impact. We carried out projects with many really inspiring companies. This was something that inspired me during the planning and development of Lupin Lime.
Located at Nyenrode's premises on the Keizersgracht is the Nyenrode Incubator, which supports startups in their business development experience. What was your experience like at the Nyenrode Incubator?
It's interesting to work every day in an incubator with entrepreneurs from different backgrounds and industries, having others you can reach to discuss ideas. Lunch always comes with new insights or ideas. At the same time, I really enjoyed my days as a Nyenrode student, so I am happy to stay a part of the institution from this new place.
Did you already have plans to start your own business in the Netherlands?
I have been passionate about fashion since I was a little kid, playing to make costumes and accessories for myself. So, I had plans to start my own retail business, but making the decision to do it in the Netherlands had to do with my experience in the country and my motivation to stay here.
Can you tell us a little bit about your company and its mission?
Our mission at Lupin Lime is to be a bridge between Latin American design and the rest of the world, providing pieces of art generated by independent goldsmiths who share our values, thus helping the dissemination and training of artists of the region.
Latin America is a privileged continent because it has virtuous artisans who have inherited the wisdom of their trades from their ancestors and have passed them on from generation to generation. Lupin Lime curates and brings to the world contemporary limited-edition art jewellery, designed and handcrafted by Latin American artists. Many of them live in remote areas of the continent but have gained a reputation that reflects quality and impeccable individual exclusivity.
The different designs in our jewellery line strive to create a bridge between Latin American culture, techniques, and materials with the perspective of the 21st century. Additionally, all the artisans in our network work with manual processes, which not only reduces the environmental impact but also makes each piece unique.
As an active player in the Latin American culture, we are committed to helping improve the lives of vulnerable people on the continent. Therefore, with every purchase, we invest in advancing goldsmith skills in people from the poorest sectors, to instil knowledge that will allow them to move out of poverty and create a long-term positive trajectory of change in their lives.
Our programme provides beneficiaries with professional goldsmith training through specialised schools and provides them with their first job within our supplier network. For this, we pay the starting salaries as they strengthen their specialisation to becoming skilled artisans in the job market.
Why did you decide to open your headquarters in Amsterdam?
For me, it was essential to have the headquarters in Europe because we work on the dissemination of Latin American art. And where better to do it than in Amsterdam with its vibrant artist community and international fashion brands?
What can you tell us about the fashion industry in Amsterdam?
The fashion industry has a long way to go before becoming sustainable, but the awareness of sustainability issues is widespread in the Netherlands. Dutch consumers are generally very conscious. In Amsterdam, there is a lot of innovation and startups working towards a circular approach.
At Lupin Lime, all the jewels are crafted with manual processes and many designs use recycled materials. This is the case of our Aguayo jewels with recycled textile fabrics from native communities. Beyond the environmental impact, this carries the cultural richness of the continent and brings back the different human groups that, through their creative expressions, are able to maintain the testimony of their cultural identity.
What is your favourite area in Amsterdam when it comes to (fashion) shopping?
The Kalverstraat and Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat are great when it comes to shopping fashion, I always liked walking around those big stores for hours. But I must say that wandering around the Negen Straatjes with its narrow streets, canals, art galleries and emerging fashion houses, has a unique charm! More than shopping, it is an experience in itself.
Do you have any tips / advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Take ownership of your own goals and projects and act on them yourself by inspiring people and connecting with them. No one regrets being brave!