This week on the #WORLDCHANGERS series, we speak to Rusi, founder and designer of Rusi Designs.
Current job: Founder and Creative Director Rusi Designs,
My greatest success: Seeing the President of Georgia wearing my handbag when she met the President of France and his wife Bridget.
My role model: Gabriella Hearst
My biggest fear: People continue consuming throwaway fashion, which will eventually lead to more environmental disasters.
My life dream: create a luxury lifestyle brand – Rusi Designs
My favourite website: www.net a porter.com
I was born in Tbilisi, Georgia. Despite studying environmental chemistry at university, I had always wanted to be in fashion, but fashion schools did not really exist in Georgia where, at that time, fashion was not considered to be a profession. Georgians are very much like Italians, they love fashion and looking good is And was very important to them! I made my own clothes, before that my mother made clothes (she was a mathematician but loved to sew!) and my grandmother also made clothes – she was a professional seamstress. Maybe my love of fashion comes from my grandmother? She was a very important person in my life and I am named after her. She told me ever since I was a little girl, I was always gathering fabrics into a sort of pouch and saying it was a bag!
When I moved to Brussels I enrolled in the Art Academy there and then obtained an Interior Design degree with the Rhodec International UK, but it was not until I joined a five-day handbag making course in London, that I realised how much I loved handbags! I created my first clutch bag in Bangkok in 2013. I found this little workshop and I asked the craftsman, Tony, to make me a sample. I sat with him to share everything I knew from my course. RusiDesigns was born! I never set out to make cheap bags, I wanted quality and longevity in my products. My first clients from my Asian production days are still with me. I offer a lifetime guarantee to make things right if something goes wrong – it seldom does, but for me, the customer’s experience is very important, so I go the extra mile. I moved my production to Italy after 3 years of testing the ground. My current factory makes bags for Chanel and Delvaux. It does not get better than this. I am so proud.
I start thinking about the new design with someone in mind. I think about their lifestyle and what they do on a day-to-day basis, then I play scenarios in my head and come up with ideas and solutions. Sometimes it’s instant. Sometimes it takes time. But the most important thing is to create something that people will treasure. I believe in longevity and simplicity. I think the essence of design is simplicity, and simplicity is in good design!
To me, sustainability is quality over quantity. If something is well crafted it will last longer. If you do not need to replace it after a short time it’s better for the environment! I make small numbers and I do not waste any leathers. I use every piece of leftover leather to create something useful. I work with responsible factories where the artisans get paid a fair salary, and I work with local models and photographers so they do not need to travel far thus reducing my carbon footprint. On a personal level, I reuse and recycle everything I can, and I walk and use public transport wherever possible. I support the economy in these difficult times by giving people jobs.
Absolutely. Luxury to me means quality and taking responsibility for your actions in environmental terms. Be responsible, waste less, give back, make quality items that last.
Seeing my Mezzaluna tote being worn by the President of Georgia while on an official visit meeting the President of France and his wife. The Georgian President sent me a photo saying “Two Presidents and one bag”. Oh, joy!
Due to my husband’s work as a career diplomat, we lived in Asia for 8 years. While there I worked closely with women’s organisations on charity projects. One of the last projects was a charity fashion show at the British Ambassadors residence in Bangkok, Thailand, with the amazing charity Steps with Theera – they promote equality and independence, by giving employment to adults of all abilities. It was a very fulfilling experience.
I just want to be able to continue to do what I do best, and grow my brand into a lifestyle brand.
Now that made me smile! I love what I do and I never want to rest from it! As someone famously said: do what you love and you never have to work a day in your life.
I listen to podcasts, and my current book is an audiobook on learning Italian. It is never too late to learn.
I probably would have started earlier with designing handbags – but better late than never. I believe everything happens for a reason.