THE WWW'S — A CHAT WITH LIESBET FROM LESELLES
Have you heard of The WWW’s? Through this section on our website, you’ll be able to get to know our clients a little better, as we’ll dive deep into the WHO, WHAT and WHY of their brands. Intrigued? Then read on to discover more!
Meet Liesbet Allaer, founder of leselles. This Belgian label offers colourful and cozy creations with a sustainable background. Founded in 2019, leselles is a physical representation of Liesbet's predilection for items that are not only beautiful, but sustainable as well. Classy, timeless fashion that one can enjoy for years to come. Find out more about leselles and its founder by reading the interview below!
Hi Liesbet! Could you please introduce yourself and tell us about your background and education?
Hi, I’m Liesbet and I’m the founder of knitwear label ‘leselles’. I have always been passionate about fashion, and from an early age, I even dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. Which, now that I think about it, was not an obvious choice, as I don’t come from an entrepreneurial family.
I succeeded in following my dream by opening up a clothing boutique after my studies. It was during this time that I met my husband, who was working in the import business of flowers and plants. We combined our jobs with our family life for a long time, but knew this couldn’t last. After 10 years, we decided to close the boutique and started a new business together: Belfleur, an export company of flowers and plants, and we actually launched the first digital platform for the sector. It soon became clear, though, that I could not use my creativity in the position I held within Belfleur, so strengthened by the knowledge I had obtained during my student days at Spermalie Bruges, I turned to organizing cooking workshops.
How did you come up with the idea to launch a knitwear label? Where does the name ‘leselles’ come from?
When my eldest daughter left for boarding school, the time had come for me to start something of my own again. A webshop by the name of ‘leselles' (Elle + Elle = leselles, for women and by women) where I would sell qualitative, affordable and fun items - preferably Belgian - that I personally would love and want to have, going from clothing to accessories, decorations, bed linen, furniture and care products.
I remember being led by curiosity to visit my friend's knitting factory, where I discovered boxes filled with the most beautiful wool. This encounter gave me the idea to start knitting scarves with this surplus wool and sell them online. Without realizing it, I had stumbled upon what would turn out to be a beautiful story. Two seasons later, led by success and encouragement from our clientele, we launched the scarves as a brand. We kept the name ‘leselles' for the brand and named the webshop (and later our concept store) ‘Bonnette’.
This very summer, we made the decision to take Bonnette offline so that I could focus all my time and passion on further developing ‘leselles’ as a label.
Could you tell us more about the sustainable angle of your brand and products?
I believe that sustainable fashion also includes timeless fashion. And by that I mean it’s important to create items that you can enjoy for years on end and that can be combined in endless ways, during summer and winter. A leselles scarf is not just a winter item. We use mohair wool, which is a type of wool that can adapt to the body temperature so that the scarf feels comfortable all year round. Furthermore, our extensive colour palette allows our clientele to pick and choose hues for every season.
We’ve actually succeeded in launching a sustainable product from the get-go. We collect our wool from brands, manufacturers and producers, and by utilizing their surplus wool, we are able to give a second life to a fabric that would otherwise be thrown out. To further limit the strain on our planet, we also ask that our scarves are not individually wrapped in plastic, and to reuse all shipping boxes.
Can you give us a little insight into your design process? Where does your inspiration come from?
It is my goal to inject colour into the world of fashion. Purchasing an outfit in a bright colour is a daring thing to do, so with a scarf we lower the threshold. Because we have so many hues to choose from, there’s always one that will perfectly complement one’s skin tone, leading to them looking their best!
What does the future of leselles look like? Do you have any dreams?
It is my dream is to have leselles available throughout Europe. Currently we tend to a market in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, but I hope to put leselles on the map in other countries as well in the future.
Female entrepreneurs are still a minority. What’s your ultimate advice for women who are considering starting their own business?
At times, I’ve wished there was a roadmap to success, but there isn’t. There are podcasts, but I haven’t found one that highlights the steps I’ve had to take. There is no sounding board from experienced entrepreneurs who have travelled a long way already and who can give advice to those of us that aren’t there yet. I feel like we’re all working away on our little island, here in Belgium, while in the Netherlands, people tend to help one another and open up about their hardships and goals. I miss that sometimes.
Anyway, I make a point of telling my daughters ‘whatever you do, do it with passion and follow your gut feeling, and you will be fine’. It’s important to know that every single person starts in their living room, surrounded by boxes. I too (still) spend a lot of evenings with my mom and daughters sticking labels and packing orders. But of course, I realize that things have changed since I started my business. Back then, there was no social media or clothing chains, so today the challenge is all the greater!
I’ll leave you with a story that inspired me, namely that of Inge Onsea (founder of Essentiel). I remember her from the time she entered our shop to present some t-shirts, and now look at her. The story of how she started and where she is now beautifully illustrates how life can change when you’re an entrepreneur.
Thank you Liesbet, for the inspirational talk! We wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors!
Intrigued and want to know more? Check out leselles and get inspired.
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