Having a talk with power couple Bob and Céline about their ethical accessory label, Détail.
A new client. A new inspirational talk. We’ll take a deep dive into the WHO, WHAT and WHY of this beautiful Belgian brand! After falling in love with each other while studying at the same university, partners in crime Bob and Céline traveled across India, where they both fell for the colorful and authentic culture. Without realizing it, back in 2005, Céline’s passion for Indian jewelry-making was the start of a very exciting future. The strong connection with India never faded and grew into the ethical accessory label Détail is today. For a more detailed trip down the brand’s memory lane, we talked to founders Bob and Céline who told us everything about their journey and inspiration.
Hi Bob and Céline! We’re intrigued. Could you share a bit more about your backgrounds?
We both studied economics, this is how we met. Before starting our “adult life”, we wanted to do something completely different and extra challenging. When we heard about an international internship, we knew that this was going to be our first step. America was a very popular destination back then, but we wanted something else: let’s head East! We believed it couldn’t get more Eastern than a trip to China, so we decided this would be our destination. We even started taking Chinese classes until we suddenly got the news that we could go to India instead, having to leave in 3 weeks… And before we knew it, we were heading to Jaipur by bus.
Your story started with gemstones, can you tell us a bit more about them and their positive impact?
Jaipur is known for the polishing of natural stones. Raw stones from all over the world end up there to be polished. You can compare it with Antwerp which is known for polishing diamonds. A lot of people think of classic jewelers for the polishing of gemstones, but there are a lot of differences in this process of working the stones regarding the technique and quality. In India, we soon discovered that gemstones can be somewhat affordable. You may not have the purest stone, but we think it is a beautiful thing to have an imperfect stone in which you can recognize different elements of nature. A gemstone is created when hot magma solidifies in the earth's interior. This solidification process lasts millions of years and takes place in the deepest part of the earth. That is why they say that a stone is full of earthly energy. Each stone has a certain energy that you take on by wearing it. The stone you feel attracted to, is the stone that suits you and brings you (back) into balance.
You lost your hearts in India, why exactly India? Could you tell us a bit more about the country and where your passion comes from?
India is the land of color and diversity. In India, 1.4 billion people live in very close proximity. This also makes them very humane and tolerant. This simply is a must. Especially when you sit on a train with 8 people while there is only room for 5 :)
There is still a lot of freedom in India. Almost everything is possible and allowed. Many people see India as a dirty and chaotic country but if you look more closely, you really see freedom and beauty. The people are also closer to nature and themselves.
How important is India in Détail’s ethical production process?
India is the most important element of our production process. It all started with the idea of helping Indian people. They are very crafty and use wonderful materials but they have no idea of Western trends and standards. All our materials: silver, natural stones, leather... come from India and are also processed in India to create a true 'DétaiL'. Bob and I just steer the process in the right direction :)
How often do you visit India nowadays? How do you keep track of production and craftsmanship over there?
We visit India as much as possible, which is 3-4 times a year. For us, India doesn’t only mean work, but ‘coming home’ as well. When we get back from our visit, we feel more balanced and revitalized.
Because of the cultural differences, it is important to follow-up everything very carefully. Moreover, we train our own craftsmen and we put a lot of time and energy into that. We work directly with the artisans who often work in their homes. So when we are in India we have to drive around a lot to see everyone. Fortunately, everywhere we go, we get a very warm welcome with a delicious home-made chai.
Where does your inspiration for the designs of your handbags come from? What is your primary focus when designing an item?
Inspiration comes from everything around me. A beautiful shape, people, trends, a nice color combination... If you carefully look around, you see so many beautiful things. Certain things get stuck in my head and then I know I have to do something with them. And once I'm in India, the ideas come to life in the natural stones or silver.
This summer collection Holi was inspired by a Hindu festival, can we expect another festive collection next season?
You’re giving me ideas ;) The Holi festival is super fun because it is so colorful. Plus, Holi celebrates the victory of good over evil and we thought that was pretty appropriate after the whole corona period.
There is a reference to India in each of our handbags. This ranges from the inner lining being made of sarees, the traditional costume of women, to the incorporation of the typical spitbow of Indian temples.
How do you cope with running a company as a couple? Any obstacles you’ve come across?
It is very nice that we have been able to travel so much as a couple. You also get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses very well. You can be very honest with each other and you know that the other person is always there to support you.
In the beginning we had to figure out each other’s tasks and we often missed a third person to have a majority in certain choices. Meanwhile, we know each other's 'field of expertise' very well. Everyone is the boss in his 'specialty' and has a right of veto in this branch :)