After working 10 years as a model in the fashion industry and getting to know the insights of it & the impact it has on the people, animals and environment, Floriana Sandu decided to create her own designer brand made from passion of nature, beauty & freedom.
Gnagna Studio is a youth designer brand created in Romania. Floriana's mission is focused on bringing sustainable fashion, deco pieces and accessories made entirely of natural materials like linen, wool, organic cotton dyed with ecological colors.
Where does your inspiration come from for designing your Gnana clothes?
I use every aspect of my life as an inspiration. Places I see, sensations I feel, people around me. I can draw an entire collection just by looking at a cloud, imagining it’s texture, seeing it’s movement and choosing the fabric accordingly to that.
I have in mind the foam of the waves when I choose my Organic cotton, Gauzes for example.
My childhood plays an important role also. I grew up between clothes and rich embroideries. I go back to my roots every time I need a hint.
Was it difficult for you to build your own company by yourself? As a woman?
I think it will never stop being hard, even after you build the thing. I am still in the process of learning new things every day and developing my business. But when you love what you do, you enjoy even the hard parts, they make you grow.
I am lucky that I was working in the industry for a long time, I had many insights, but that didn’t prepare me for what was next. It was easier because I was familiar with the domain, I worked as an assistant for a long time before having my own path.
Also, I have the full support of my family and that makes me feel safe.
And talking about business women, I think that being a woman in the industry is even more incredible. Besides intelligence, education and responsibility, we have a certain sensibility and charm.
As a professional model, you've been involved in fashion for many years, what message do you want to share with our readers regarding the fashion industry?
As a model I felt on my skin all the aspects of the industry. I had jobs from no name brands in Asia to glamorous showrooms and shows in Paris. It doesn’t matter how beautiful you are or how long your legs are. You are a “product” of your agency, it’s all about money there, about networking, knowing the right people or about the relation with your agent. They can make you a star or send you to never ending castings everyday.
It’s not that pink as everybody will think. it’s like every other industry actually, but with more appearances.
This was one of the reasons that drove me to fair fashion, to a simpler and more transparent process. We make clothes for real people, not for projections.
How do you select the clothes you're wearing in your daily life?
I’m not a big shopper anymore. I wear clothes I bought maybe seven years ago with the same happiness I was wearing them back in the days. Right now I’m wearing my mother’s blouse that she sews in High School. It’s like new after 30 years. I love the quality of old garments, I feel the dedication of the manufacturer. This is what I like my clients to feel with my clothes.
I also wear Gnana collections, of course. I am a very practical and versatile person, so I love to change a look just by adding the right shoes or accessories. My clothes are just perfect for that.
Any eco / zero waste tips you want to share with our readers?
I think that living in a developed society makes a zero waste life very hard, in the conditions which even an avocado comes wrapped in layers of plastic. This doesn’t mean we cannot try!
I used to have a composter for all the organic waste, in two weeks all my trash becomes nourishment for plants.
I try to avoid plastic packed foods. I don’t shop in plastic bags, I don’t use straws. I have amazing handmade bamboo straws from my last trip to Bali and I use them all the time. I use only eco cleaning or cosmetic products and I try to eat mainly veggies from the countryside (luckily we still have ecological agriculture in Romania).
Now I moved in a new place and I’m working at my own garden on the roof. This will be a truly achievement.
Just do small steps in accordance with your lifestyle, but always think about where your garbage will go, your plastic box from the takeaway food or the straw you used only once. Find out if your scrub is made with natural salt or with plastic particles, that will end in the oceans. Also while washing your comfortable yoga microfibre leggings, those tiny fibres will end in the fish you ate at a fancy restaurant.
Make sure the choices you make are healthy and always ask about the origin or the effects of the products you use.
What is your most enjoyable moment since you've started Gnana Studio?
I love the moments when suddenly I see someone wearing my eco fashion clothes on the street. I love when people are amazed by the fabrics and the sensation they give you or when clients tell me they love the fitting of the products.
I find every moment enjoyable, but specially I feel a deep happiness when I look at a new collection on which I was working the past months and now is ready to be sent around the world.