Fall means different things to the people I know and for me, it is time to sit back, fill cups with steaming caffeinated drinks and wrap myself in a cozy, comforting cashmere blanket. This is exactly what I and two of my friends at Ozka Cashmere House did this weekend! Having spent over a decade in a high-end retail environment, Oksana and Elita decided to establish their own luxury cashmere brand. Here is a short overview of our conversation, give it a read for some behind-the-scenes insights of his new exciting brand!
Olga: The Ozka brand is young and yet its presence is very noticeable. When did you two come up with the idea of starting your own business?
Ozka Cashmere House: The concept has been in the works for the past 10 years. Just recently though, we felt confident enough to focus of this goal and start taking the necessary steps towards its achieving.
O: How long have you known each other prior to committing to such meaningful project?
OCH: We have been close friends for almost 15 years. Having met at the store while working in retail, we had this instant connection. Our bond is only growing stronger by year. People are always asking whether we are related! (Laughing).
O: How so?
OCH: Well, for instance, no one is entirely sure who is who, when we are not next to each other. People always think we are sisters or at least cousins!
O: That is incredible! Perhaps, it was meant to be be you start your own brand. Speaking of, your logo is so fresh and unique – who or what was the main source of inspiration? Did you try out different designs, or you just knew the logo should look the way it does from day one?
OCH: From the very start, we had a clear vision on the logo design. It’s clean, minimalistic and modern. Besides, since we are both European, we couldn’t help but connect the logo design to our heritage somehow. In Eastern Baltic languages (Slavic group of Indo-European family, including Latvian and Lithuanian languages – ed.), “Ozka” means, “goat”. Since cashmere originates from goat hair, we felt it was very appropriate. Additionally, we are both Capricorns and the business has started in the year of a Goat – we aim for success!
O: Great! I believe it too. How would you describe your brand philosophy? What are the main concepts behind the Ozka cashmere house?
OCH: We stand for everyday luxury. Our product is of the highest quality and of course, reasonable care is required, and yet it is not something you would only use on a special occasion. Over the years in retail we listened to our customers and now we can confidently say: our pieces are meant to last.
O: Do you have any one piece in your present collection that is your absolute favorite? Why do you have such passion for it – does it elicit an emotional or aesthetic response?
OCH: That is a tough question! We do share fashion preferences and our personal styles are practically identical, so it would be fair to say that one favorite piece is our Blanket Wrap. This product is hand-spun and had-crafted, and, as most pieces from our collection, it features a neutral color palette, intricate weave and outstanding quality. It feels so buttery, that we want to carry it around all the time. Being such an elegant and luxurious piece, it is also very usable: from the office to the car to the plane trip our customers can enjoy and appreciate this unique accessory. It is an investment that will last for years.
O: What is the usual routine for sourcing the new trends or products – do you browse catalogs, research what’s new online, or keep in touch with vendors and partners to see if something exciting is scheduled to be available?
OCH: As we both grew up in Europe, we are accustomed to natural fibers and materials. That idea was our main inspiration while selecting the assortment and deciding on the manufacturers we wanted to partner with. We have traveled to the world to discover the best fibers to bring to the North American market. After spending time in Europe and Asia, we decided to work with Mongolia, Nepal and Italy for their honest practices, pure materials and incomparable quality.
O: What is your strategy when it comes to selecting the right fibers and weaves – do you have a “perfect” criteria for the material?
OCH: Of course, we are interested in the material quality, but we also look for the sustainable sources, fair trade practices and giving back to community. Otherwise, we would not be able to stand by our product.
O: Do you have any future plans on expanding the business into other categories – home furnishings, for example?
OCH: As ecstatic with the brand as we are at the moment, we always look for the new opportunities. In the future, we would love to experiment with cashmere blends – be it cotton, linen, or silk – or all three – that idea itself is enough to keep us going. When we imagine gorgeous patterns of those luxurious blends, we feel alive and positive about a very bright future.