Interview with Ani Raas of Zenpui by Rachael Lovette.....
Zenpui isn’t just an eco-conscious apparel and jewelry brand, its also a state of mind. From conscious production methods to using materials that are recycled, organic and conflict free, owner Anielis Raas (Ani for short) has set out to create a brand that honors the natural world and creates a state of mindfulness and Zen. Find out more about Ani and her brand Zenpui during our interview…
Get to Know Zen Pui
How would you describe Zenpui?
I would describe it as a state of mind that’s inviting anyone who’s in contact with it to find that one activity that takes them to the path of happiness, for me, that is creating in a way that honors humans and our natural world, that doesn’t only apply to what I make, but to the way I live as well.
What considerations go into building an eco-friendly brand?
The materials are my first consideration, I choose recycled metals, conflict free stones, organically grown natural fabrics and if I use synthetic fabrics, they are deadstock, surplus or vintage fabrics. For now, I’m producing all my pieces, eventually I want to have a modest production house that’s powered by renewable energies and in which we incorporate environmentally conscious practices.
What was your biggest challenge or fear when starting your brand?
Not being able to fulfill expectations, being shut down, seeing the opposite reaction I have when I look at a piece that I create. So far, that hasn’t happen, right now I’m dealing with the fear of growth, since it is only me, but I’m cultivating the idea that the right people to form my team will arrive at the right time. I already took the scariest step, to begin, so, I’m in for the ride
How do you kick off your design design process for a new collection?
Every collection starts with a trip for a few days immersed in nature, admiring its beauty and integrating with it, if I’m lucky, I find a good collection of stones at a remote rock shop somewhere to set in the jewelry bench. For the most part, I share my thoughts on how I live and what I experience, sometimes is hard to tie that into my products, but I’m learning along the way.
We see a very unique color story to your designs. How does Oregon and/or your hometown contribute to your design aesthetic?
I long for the tropical weather of my homeland so I make clothes that show a little skin, that flow while we move and since moving to the Pacific Northwest I also create cozy items that give me warmth in the cold of this corner of the world.
What is the inspiration behind your current collection?
Contrast, I’m a big observer of nature processes and that contrast between day and night, season to season, life and death can be interpreted through colors, I choose neutrals because they go well with a lot of things we own and I want to create pieces that stand the test of time and surpass trends, I use classic silhouettes with a twist, I like asymmetry.
Get to Know Anielis (Ani) Raas
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in fashion?
I think that from realizing it to developing the skills for it, time was not linear. I began making jewelry in 2003, when I started setting crystals for people to connect with its healing properties when I gave and received holistic therapies, from there I developed the craft, learned different stone settings and in 2010 I decided to learn design principles, I enrolled in a Fashion Design program because there was a lack of a Jewelry Design program and I just fell in love with textiles as well, from there I started to develop my own style and now I’m here.
What are your aspirations with Zenpui?
I want a local production house with a few workstations, a storefront with my aesthetic impregnated in it and where people can share their time, energy, presence and build community.
What is your favorite part about being a designer?
The creative process, the way materials take their own shape, the communication without words that result from interacting with them, the admiration of it in human body, the admiration of my work I receive from people that are in contact with it.
Do you have a favorite piece that you designed?
In jewelry, a ring I wear every day, it’s actually two forged rings soldered together with a lemon quartz set in tension and in regards to apparel an asymmetrical skirt I created inspired by the way I wear a poncho on my hips when I get cold and don’t want to put another pair of pants on.
When you aren’t creating beautiful pieces for your brand, where can we find you?
On a trail, on a place with a view of the sunset, chasing waterfalls, in my garden, searching for materials, in a crystal shop, business advising, in the startup scene.
We all have a bucket list (both personally and professionally) what’s on yours?
To collaborate with friends that are in business themselves, to build a house in a beautiful land with a garden that provides at least 80% of what we eat and to travel across both ponds.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
Trust every little bit of it.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
To be me.
Lastly - What would you like remembered about you?
How the way I live inspires others to find a way to live that encompasses their concept of happiness.
To learn more about Zenpui follow them on social below!
- Rachael Lovette, Portland Fashion Week