Meet Ann Claes, Senior Project Manager at Flanders District of Fashion and mother of Elektra (13) and Gaspard (10). We sat down with her and her supermodel cat to talk about her life within the Belgian fashion industry...
A senior project manager at Flanders DC and a mother of two... How does a regular day look like for you?
After preparing lunch for my daughter Elektra (13) and bringing my son Gaspard (10) to school, I go to our office at Fosbury & Sons. Usually I have a few meetings during the day - giving advice to fashion entrepreneurs or preparing different projects to promote or connect the fashion sector. As my work is so diverse, every single day is different. Although helping the creative sector and its entrepreneurs is always the final goal, I work mainly on collaborating with a lot of different partners, setting up projects in Belgium or abroad. I have a specific interest for Fashion and Technology, especially when it is enhancing a more sustainable way of creating, producing, selling or communicating on fashion.
What motivates you?
It all started with a passion for beauty, with the infinite ways clothing can help you express your mood, your feelings, your identity, how you want to be perceived. Using my personal former work experience, big network as well as continuous learning every day, it gives me the opportunity to help others. This gives enormous satisfaction and I'm always very proud to see everyone grow.
How do you maintain your focus throughout the day?
My personal biggest challenge is to balance energy and use the right dose throughout the day. As I'm a very passionate person I always go full force and do not have many problems to stay focused. Of course some coffee and all things sugar definitely help...
Since half a year I'm a customer of bio farmer Herdershof, every week I pick up a box of unbelievable fresh vegetables, typical for the moment. I love the smell of these veggies, so real. Also the surprise element forcing you to be inventive with combinations and recipes I like a lot.
As Project manager at Flanders DC, what do you consider your biggest challenge?
I'm always trying to create an offering that supports at best, in the most relevant way, as many fashion entrepreneurs and companies as possible. Of course we always need to make choices, because of time, budget, assignment, ... I find it very challenging to make choices and this can lead sometimes to too many things at the same time. "Less is More" should be my mantra, still working on it.
As wife and mother, what do you consider your biggest challenge?
I think the Less is More - approach should also be more implemented here... There are so many nice things to do in life, but also challenges, obligations, things you think you should do to be a good mother, wife, daughter and friend. The challenge remains to keep focused on what is really important, keep it balanced and dare to choose for some me time as well.
Let's shoot some quick short questions!
How would you describe a modern woman?
For me that is somebody that tries to create an impact and uses its talent in the best way possible.
How important is sustainability for you in today’s world?
Having children and being well aware and informed on the current situation I think sustainability needs to be part of everyones everyday way of living, eating, dressing, spending,... So we live in a house that is hyper-isolated, has solar panels, taking energy out of the ground with a heat pump, etc. We try to avoid packaging as much as possible, eat less meat, drive an electric car, recycle and share. Buying clothing I always look for good quality of local Belgian brands, of course sustainable brands have a plus, like Nunu Activewear.
Let's talk a little about Nunu. If you had to describe Nunu Activewear in 3 words, which would those be?
Elegant - practical - honest.
What are your personal Nunu favorites? and why?
The Nunu tops have an unbelievable nice touch so you feel supported and hugged in a way. The fit is also showing your best sides and not highlighting the "working points" during your training. It makes you feel more confident.
What Nunu pieces do/would you like to combine with other styles of clothing?
I do wear my Nunu tops also on holiday as normal tops, especially in tropical destinations the materials are the best fit for your everyday outfit.
How would you describe the way you dress, your personal style?
I have quite an eclectic style and dress according to my mood and agenda but I think elegance is an overall aspect I always look for in clothes. Being representative for Belgian fashion I love to wear local brands with nice eye catchers but when in the need, I'm not a fashionista. I wear my clothes for a very long time. My style has not changed much over the years so I own - and wear- clothes that are 20 years old, combining them with pieces of young brands for example. Maybe adding more colour lately though...
What’s one accessory you can’t do without?
I'm always wearing my antique engagement ring, my custom made wedding ring, a hanger I got for the birth of my daughter and a ring I got for the birth of my son.
Besides these you can see me almost every day with a Delvaux bag. Having worked there for several years I became a real lover of beauty and craftsmanship so I'm an eternal fan.
Thank you for sitting down with us Ann. Any message you would like to send out to all the women out there?
Everybody has the possiblity to act more sustainable and create impact, simply by asking questions and buy the right things. Casting a vote with your wallet is something I would recommend everyone to do.
And of course I also want to stress that conscious fashion can also be beautiful and elegant at the same time, Nunu is a perfect example for that.