1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I’m originally from Almaty, Kazakhstan. Since childhood I developed my creative side as an artist. But I did a degree in Journalism, had worked in different industries like media, oil and finance as an editor and PR manager back in Kazakhstan. About six years ago I moved to the UK to do MBA in Finance. After graduation I did few PR projects and then was offered a post in the company. In London I had more time and started doing oil paintings which I never done before and managed to organize few exhibitions. My paintings can be seen at Saatchi online gallery. Before starting a business I worked in various companies in marketing and business development sides, which helped me to set up a company later.
2. How did you get into the world of fashion?
Fashion has always been my passion. In a way art and fashion are quite close so many designers get their inspiration from art. It was very natural for me to jump into fashion from business background but with relevant knowledge, passion and dream.
3. Earlier this year you created your own brand of scarves with a friend, which are beautiful. What was the inspiration behind this and how have you managed to squeeze into an already tight market?
Together with my friend Aizhan I started to make scarves using my paintings. We were inspired by the famous Silk Road that once connected the West and the East. We created the ABO London brand, in an effort to unite the rich cultural heritage of Central Asia and the modern diverse dynamism of London. ABO London started growing from strength to strength. In the first year ABO London has been recognized by the Ethical Fashion Forum, the industry body for sustainable fashion.
ABO London became one of the finalists of SOURCE Awards 2012, the Global Awards for Sustainable Fashion as One to Watch. We were recognized as inspirational new talent in fashion design and textiles design, combined with innovation in sustainability terms. Currently we stock in the UK, Japan and Hong Kong.
4. You recently were nominated as a finalist in the Ethical Fashion Award. What ethical issues have you encountered in your new brand and how have you resolved them?
From the beginning we decided to establish ABO London as an ethical brand. We outsourced the companies in the UK that digitally print fabrics using environmentally friendly processes. We use the local people to finish our scarves. Also the packaging is made in the UK. That’s very appealing to international buyers especially from Far East Asia.
5. To what extent do your origins from Kazakhstan form the basis of your design and style?
We have a great cultural heritage in Central Asia that has a big influence on my art. I guess it is just in my genes as I did not study or practice any of our traditional applied arts from Kazakhstan. Many people compared my artworks to French impressionists. My paintings are very bright and colorful, full of positive happiness that might be Kazakhstan’s influence. My second collection of scarves is called “Silk Road” as a referral to my Central Asian roots.
6. What’s next for ABO London?
I would like to be exhibited at Paris Fashion Week with ABO scarves. The plan is to develop ABO London organically. Few months ago we did collaboration with jewellery company astrid & miuy. Recently I launched cushion’s collection London Parks that was successful at Spirit of Christmas fair. So ABO London is not only about scarves and fashion. I might also do textiles and other things within the brand.