APiF: Please introduce yourself and your business?
Sandrine Herbert-Razafinjato: I am French and currently live in London. I am a designer and events manager, driven by innovation and social change. I founded Open The Gate in 2009 together with my boyfriend. Open The Gate is a cultural organization that aims to promote a positive and contemporary image of African & Diaspora arts, crafts, music, design and cultures.
APiF: What is the meaning behind the name of your label Open The Gate?
Sandrine: We act as a hub, as a platform for artists and musicians – we are like a bridge between them, the institutions and the community. We want to open new doors, new opportunities for the artists of the network. It is also an invitation for the audience to discover the variety of art forms and richness of cultures from Africa and the Diaspora and their influence on other cultures and art forms today.
APiF: What inspired you to work with wax prints?
Sandrine: For nearly 2 years, we were running a cultural venue in East London, showcasing our artists and vision. It was all decorated with African prints – on the walls, on the ceiling, everywhere! That’s how I started to work with wax prints and turn them into lamp shades, puffie seats, door rims, curtains etc. It became quite addictive! I love street art and urban culture and I finally had the tools to mix and blend my passions: making accessories with African prints and giving it an urban twist.
APiF: Any tips for start-ups in the fashion industry?
Sandrine: Be true to yourself. Make what you like, don’t necessarily follow the trend, be creative and always remember why you are doing this. Nowadays it’s also necessary to check-out what’s happening in terms of sustainable and ethical fashion as well. There is already enough of everything on the market, so at least if the new garment could be “intelligent” – it would deserve to be.