Dubai - Exclusive interview with Inge Onsea, the creative mind behind Essentiel Antwerp.
It is impossible not to be captivated by Inge Onsea, the creative mind behind Essentiel Antwerp. Her enthusiasm for her craft is reflected in her laugh and the animated way in which her hands flit across her face when she talks about Essentiel, the clothing brand she started 17 years ago with her husband Esfan Eghtessadi.
Founded in Belgium, Essentiel slowly but surely morphed into something bigger than the two could have ever imagined. "I never imagined that we would have snowballed into something like this when we started our T-Shirt collection in 1999 in 30 different colours. We sold T-shirts from our car, at pop up stores. we even travelled across Europe to sell them in Paris," she added.
"I remember when we started selling from our apartment, of course it helped that my husband was very good looking, so all the ladies would turn up to watch him cook in a corner while perusing clothes," she added about their early days. Inge and Esfan's family also grew with Essentiel. In 2004-2005 they started a men's line and Inge gave birth to their two sons. "I went straight from the hospital to the studio. At that time we lived out of our studio and I was nursing my sons, and when I could not keep them close, they would be taken care of by one of our staff. I think that's why we have such social children," she added.
But like all brands they had their ups and their downs as well. "By 2004 we had almost 800 pieces in the collection and that was unmanageable. Now we have a collection of 200 pieces and you have to pick what to keep in the collection with a fine toothed comb."
What made Essential different was that it always had colour, Inge explained."Everyone else had gray or black collections and we entered Europe with our colours." Naturally, her new collection also has a smorgasbord of colours to choose from - maroons, reds, deep greens and mustard are entwined alongside pink, velvet soft blue and fresh white tones.
Today, Essentiel has stores in Spain, Switzerland, France and even South Korea. "Of course, Dubai is my favourite city and we now have two stores here - one in City Walk and one in JBR," Inge told the Khaleej Times in Dubai at the launch of her new Spring Summer 2016 collection. Fun and fit for all ages, Inge is extremely adamant that her clothes, while young and full of fun prints, isn't for any particular age bracket. And, there isn't a single piece that hasn't gone through Inge's hands. "This line has a very tropical theme, with an eclectic mix of typically African prints. I lived in India for 5 years before I met Esfan so I think that's where my love for colours and prints comes from," she added.