Five questions with feminist founder of Koeksuster.
When it comes to fine-tuning our craft, Koeksuster and I both tap into our alter egos: A self-proclaimed vigilante, fighting for people's rights to femininity, good skin and beautiful things. Ms Koeksuster is beyond talented, having created a bold, beautiful brand with a strong, opinionated voice. I asked her five questions to try get inside her head...
ATC: When was the Koeksuster idea born?
K: . It's weird because I feel like I can pinpoint the exact moment when the idea came to be. We were having Sunday lunch and my dad kept on making typical dad jokes one of which was calling me a Koeksuster. "Koek" is the Afrikaans slang for a prude and so, he explained, I'm the sister who is a prude. Instead of getting irritated at the name calling, I ended up loving the name and it turned into my alter ego. So when we were asked to come up with a business idea the rest of the brand just came together instantly.
ATC: What message are you trying to get across with Koeksuster and the products within the range?
K: I've always been super vocal and passionate about feminist issues. I really like working on Koeksuster because it's made me discover so much more of the online feminist community. It's been incredible to come across so many people and accounts who share the same feminist point of view. Hearing my feelings echoed not only made me feel less alone, but also keeps inspiring new content and messages that I want to share and associate with the brand. If I had to pinpoint the one main message that I want to share with Koeksuster I think it all comes back to sex positivity. Growing up, although my parents were fairly sex-positive, I felt the community I grew up in shamed girls for being sexual. I think Koeksuster wants to tell girls that sexuality is normal and something we should be educated about. Sex education is important even if you're a 'koek' like me.
ATC: Tell us a little about your journey over the last couple of years. What have you been busy with.
K: I think currently I've been in a space where I've been feeling a bit of imposters syndrome. A lot of what I've been doing over the past few years is literally just me sitting in my room working away at either Koeksuster ideas or college work. As it's still only me doing everything, from creating content to sewing the actual garments, I often feel like Koeksuster is only a passion project and not the actual clothing brand that I want it to be. I spent the last three year studying Interaction design, and just graduated with a BA degree majoring in web & app design with a minor in Photography. I started working on Koeksuster in my second year as a hypothetical class project. When the class project came to an end, I just could not let Koeksuster go, and after endless nights of coding the website and designing garments, koeksusterintimates.com finally went live in the middle of my third year. I have to constantly look back at how far Koeksuster has come to remind myself that all the late nights of sewing was worth it. I think starting your own business takes a lot of self-validation, as I have to often re-evaluate the last few years, to realize "wow, Koeksuster has really come a far way" and to remind myself that slowly but surely the brand is growing into what I want it to be. (sound super cheesy, but sometimes the cheesy things are very important).
ATC: "There's power in being soft" - what does this mean to you?
K: I've always associated 'softness' with femininity. And unfortunately growing up I did not want to appear too 'soft' or too 'feminine' as I thought these traits were associated with weakness. I wanted to be an strong independent woman and had (still have) this fear of people not taking me seriously. I thought you could only be strong or be feminine and that these characteristics were opposites of each other. It seems silly now, because femininity is not weakness, our society just seems to devalue feminine traits. But even though we are aware of this and we see change being introduced in main stream media, I think subconsciously we still see 'softness' as an insult. I think gender stereotypes are so engrained in our culture that we do still need reminders that 'there is power in being soft'.
ATC: What else can we expect from Koeksuster this year?
K: I'm currently working on a very exciting new campaign. It's still a big secret, but it's definitely the most exciting thing I've done for Koeksuster yet. Fingers crossed that I'll be able to share more details soon. I hope that Koeksuster's future will hold many more collaborative projects, such as the one I'm working on now. Working with fellow creatives is so rewarding and I think it really brings more depth to a project. I want Koeksuster to not only be a clothing brand, but rather a creative outlet for people passionate about feminism. I'd love for Koeksuster to eventually become not only a platform for sharing creative pursuits, but to also be able to equip womxn with the resources to create.