OBLIVIOUS? Founder Jacqueline Mozanowski on the positive power of questions

“Curiosity means we are open to learning something new,” says founder Jacqueline Mozanowski as she tells us about the unique, introspective ethos that informs OBLIVIOUS? [...]

“Curiosity means we are open to learning something new,” says founder Jacqueline Mozanowski as she tells us about the unique, introspective ethos that informs OBLIVIOUS? “Curiosity helps us grow and develop and to not get stuck in a routine that we might not even be entirely happy with, but to be an active participant in your own life. We seek to inspire others to ask themselves more questions, to understand themselves better, but also to ask others more questions.

OBLIVIOUS? was founded by mother and daughter duo Romi and Jacquie, who have, through endless phone calls between London and Germany, launched their own conscious fashion brand amid pandemic times. In many ways, OBLIVIOUS? is a brand that is perfect for the times we find ourselves in. One that does away with fast-fashion trends and instead challenges its wearers to look inwards, ask questions and reignite their curiosity for the world.

“We believe that as a brand with purpose, our message sets us apart from other brands,” Jacqueline adds. Our aim is to actually inspire people to ask more questions and be curious and for those who see our pieces to consider what their answer to the question would be… Questions and their power run throughout the whole brand, from our products to our packaging, as this is what we aim to inspire people with.”

Tell us a little bit about yourselves and your backgrounds – what inspired you to start OBLIVIOUS?

OBLIVIOUS? was founded by mother-daughter duo, Romi and Jacquie, from Stuttgart, Germany.

My mom Romi is originally from the Netherlands but has been living in Germany for a long time, working in interior design. Meanwhile, I’ve been living in the UK for several years, where I completed my BA and MsC.

My mom and I have always had a tight-knit relationship and this only grew stronger as I grew up. We also have very similar interests and tastes in fashion and design, which is one of the reasons we knew we’d successfully work together on OBLIVIOUS?

We are both naturally curious people and have always discussed potential ideas for businesses. Even when I was seven years old, we were already talking about ideas and how we could bring them to life. When I finished my studies and we were spending a lot of time together, we considered how powerful questions are in our lives and how they can impact us in a positive way.

Fashion has always been an interest of ours, but it also seemed to be a very potent platform to share the message of inspiring more curiosity and highlighting the positive power of questions. Fashion can also have an impact on our mood and help us express our identities.

We quickly decided that if we were to put anything new into the world, we would do it as responsibly and sustainably as possibly. With a brand ethos that prides itself on asking questions, we felt it was necessary to question the standard fashion cycle and try to do better. So, OBLIVIOUS? Is timely and reflective of what we want to put out into the world. 

With mom still living in Germany and me in London, most of our work is done digitally or over the phone and we have divided many of the tasks and areas of work between each other. We do occasionally see each other in person, but this has been more difficult over the past year and a half.

I love the concept of the ‘positive power of questions’ how does this philosophy translate to your collections at OBLIVIOUS?

Questions and their power run throughout the whole brand, from our products to our packaging, as this is what we aim to inspire people with. 

We try to incorporate the positive power of questions by using different questions on each of our products, either with a print or embroidery. Our range which currently consists of both men and women’s’ t-shirts, hoodies and long sleeves, everything is unisex.

All our products are premium basics designed by us, which often have a little twist so that they are more interesting than a standard hoodie. Each piece shines the light on the question, which is the focal point. We want our pieces to be comfortable but look fashionable enough to be worn from day to night.

OBLIVIOUS? has a strong sustainable ethos too – could you tell us more about the sustainability credentials of your range? 

Sustainability has gained traction within the fashion industry in the past few years and has become more and more relevant and for good reason! Fashion is a very polluting industry and as a small brand, we wanted to add as little to that footprint as possible.

While some innovations aren’t available to small businesses just yet, there are many exciting projects out there that we can hopefully scale-up someday.

Our aim is to use as little plastic as possible. We avoid it as much as we can due to its polluting effect on our planet. We are also committed to using materials that don’t contain harmful toxins and are more water-efficient.

So far, we use 100% GOTS certified Organic Cotton for all our products – the GOTS certification not only ensures our fabric’s sustainable origins and production processes, but it also guarantees that workers involved in the supply chain are ethically treated. We also use water-based inks without toxic chemicals for our prints and our labels are printed on the inside of our products to minimise excess fabrics.

We produce everything in Europe. Our new collection being produced in Portugal – not only because Portugal is a great manufacturing country for sustainable fashion, but also because it is in relative proximity to where our company is based, requiring less transport, and ensuring that employees are treated ethically. 

We weave our sustainability mission throughout our whole brand, which is why all our packaging, including hangtags, are made from recycled and or recyclable paper and less harmful inks. 

What is the best and worst thing about working together as mother and daughter? 

Founding a company and going through the whole process together has added another layer to our relationship. We’ve learned many lessons together and shared our successes and worries with each other.

Working together means that we are in even more contact than before, which is lovely, but sometimes we only talk business and not much else. Having such similar tastes helps and when we do have differing opinions, we can discuss them and find a solution quite easily, as we trust each other and have a strong relationship. 

The best thing about working together is learning and growing together and strengthening our relationship in a different way, but the worst thing is that sometimes it can be all about work too.

In your view – what sets OBLIVIOUS? apart from other fashion brands today? 

We believe that as a brand with purpose, our message sets us apart from other brands. Our aim is to actually inspire people to ask more questions and be curious and for those who see our pieces to consider what their answer to the question would be. I believe that our basic, minimalist but updated designs make us more interesting fashion-wise.

Where do the inspirations for the questions printed on your products come from? 

The inspiration is literally everywhere. When we first started, we started document where we keep all the questions we come up with or have come across and we continuously add to it. When it comes to choosing which ones to use, it comes down to what we believe is relevant, what suits the moment and the collection, and what we deem to be great questions. Whether they act as a reminder or truly ask that you think about something thoroughly. 

Lockdown has been tough on our collective mental health. In your opinion, how do curiosity and inquisitiveness help people deal with the anxieties of the world in 2021? 

A lot has changed in the last year and a half and there are also many other things happening in the world right now that can accelerate feelings of anxiety and more. 

Curiosity means we are open to learning something new and openness leads to a more positive mindset and hopefulness. Curiosity helps us grow and develop and to not get stuck in a routine that we might not even be entirely happy with, but to be an active participant in your own life. We seek to inspire others to ask themselves more questions, to understand themselves better, but also to ask others more questions. Research shows that our relationships can be improved by asking more questions and it’s such an easy tool to show interest and create a closer bond with someone. 

What advice do you have for women who would like to become GirlBosses like yourselves?

It is always scary whenever you do something you’ve never done before. Starting a business can seem daunting, but if you have an idea you believe in, you’ll want to do the best you can – so trust yourself that you will. You are capable of great things, if you put the work in, believe in yourself and take opportunities. Don’t shy away from asking for advice from others. 

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