Anita Ghise has found herself at home in free spirited creative Byron Bay. You will find her gracing the social walls of Spell and the Gypsy Collective, Chasing Unicorn’s, Roxy and Thrills, and we are lusting over her own folksy, gypsy style roaming local festivals, catching a ray at the beach or weave basket in-hand picking organic fruit and veg at the farmers market.
Originally from Romania and travelling across Europe before settling in Byron Bay, we were intrigued about her crafty heritage and her collection with Andean Collective, working with artisans in Peru to create beautiful embroidered home wares and helping women in the community with low income and resources to work from home to support themselves and their families.
We chat with Anita about her collection with Andean Collective, her journey to Byron Bay and what inspires her style:
Tell us a bit about yourself
I was born in Romania, where women traditionally started from early age to crochet, sew and embroider their own clothes. I grew up wearing only handmade pieces from my grandma’s, aunt’s and mum. I was obsessed with fabrics and creations since I can remember.
Due to political circumstances we’ve had to escape the country and went to live in Germany for a while where I’ve learned the art of sewing.
My mum and I have been travelling through Europe selling art pieces made of glass from Romania for a long time and since I’ve never felt home in Germany my journey took me somehow via Australia to Argentina where I studied fashion and Dressmaking at University. That’s how I found my lifelong passion, a label and University Degree.
I’ve been working there for various local labels and even learned the art of shoemaking by hand in a small workshop.
I’ve started my own little brand for custom made bags and shoes which went really well, but my restless soul took me back to Europe where I’ve worked with a small brand in Germany and we had a showroom with 2 collections per year. Customers could pick their style and we would customize it to their preferences, e.g. size, fabrics, colour, using only what comes from nature, such as kashmir, linen, silk, wool and leather.
Again, I was getting restless and from previous experience I knew that Byron Bay was the only place that made me feel like home so I took a plane and left my life behind again embarking on a new journey.
Shortly after I arrived back I started working as a pattern maker for Liberated Heart, Spell and other smaller projects.
Always studying – (as a foreigner it’s not that easy, haha) – I collected a diploma in Marketing, Business and Project Management along the way to compliment my Fashion Degree.
And who would have thought - fell in love pretty much right away. That was 3.5 years ago… not planning on leaving, this is home now – but always open for inspiration from faraway places such as Peru, where the Andean Collective originated.
We love your relaxed style, what inspires your wardrobe?
I love traditional Folk clothing of the countries I lived in such as my country Romania or the Gauchos in Argentina.
Recently I’ve been on a trip to Peru and the embroidery work and the style of women in the mountains has had a great impact on me.
Besides that, vintage always. My mum has inspired me since I can remember, and taught me that we don’t need to buy anything new - best things are pre-loved. They've got a history and you can see the quality as they have lasted so long.
She doesn’t buy anything new now because she doesn’t want to contribute to pollution and back then because we couldn’t afford it... haha.
As in all of my life, I avoid set rules and stereotypes - you can find me in my boyfriend’s jeans and an oversized t-shirt at a party or in my most glamorous dress sewing alone at home covered in threads and fabric cut offs with nowhere to go. One thing is guaranteed, I am comfy always and barefooted on most occasions.
As a Byron Bay local, what are your favourite spots you can share with us?
My favourite spot is the beach and the ocean.
Any beach in Byron …sunrise to sunset if I don’t have to be anywhere else.
Or hanging out hillside around my humble abode.
Tell us about Andean Collective and working with the artisans in Peru?
Working with the artisans was quite an inspiring and at the same time very humbling experience.
We have different people we are working with but its literally families or workshops with a handful employees, no factories or similar.
Embroidery has a long tradition in Peru and different regions or families have different styles as well as giving the knowledge from one generation to the other. We are working with a couple of families that have traditionally been in the embroidery business for generations.
When we were in Lima just recently, my business partner Ursula, who grew up between Lima and Cusco in Peru, had come across The Bruckner Peru NGO which works with families in places of very low income and resources. One of those places is Pamplona, a gigantic ghetto on a dirt hill in Lima. It takes people over 1.5hrs to walk from the top to the bottom to get public transport to wherever they need to go in Lima for work. They are educating and training women in various trades, such as a beautician, hairdresser and in embroidery.
This gives them the chance to work for a fair wage and more importantly to work as freelancers from home. All of the women have kids or babies so working from home gives them a chance to be with their little ones.
It was one of the most humbling moments when they’ve invited us to the top of that hill which was a half an hour ride through the windiest crazy dirt roads.
They were so lovely and proud that the creations they have made has travelled all the way to Australia.
You spend a lot of time in Peru for Andean Collective, can you give us a couple tips when visiting this magical country?
I’ve only been around Lima and the Cusco region.
Lima, especially Barranco area is a beautiful place in summer.
Cusco, Ollantaytambo and the Sacred Valley are literally breathtaking. There’s something magical about the Andean mountains and especially the abandoned city on Macchu Picchu.
3 things you want to want to tick off your bucket list?
Learn to dive
Experience the Himalayas
What daily essentials do you keep in your bag at all times when travelling?
Always have my orange essential oil from Morocco in there, I guess my phone and one or two notebooks for sketches and ideas
Wake up and smile – there’s plenty of reason to.
Chase your own dreams every day.
Forget what you should do or what should make you happy, or what could make you happy in the future.
Chase what gets your heart racing every day… now.
Gush over Anita’s travels and wardrobe on @anita_ghise and her lush Peruvian homewares at @andean_collective
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