I met Elene on my first day at London College of Fashion back in 2010. I immediately thought she was very bright, had incredible positive energy and she was elegant with an unbelievable flair. Maybe it’s the combination of her Brazilian and Italian roots, but quite possibly it’s just Elene!
After London, we kept in touch (thank you facebook!). So when I visited São Paulo last summer, I was very happy to see Elene again. Between LCF and now, she founded the amazing handbag brand Artéria together with her friend Julia Sentelhas. Elene and Julia offer versatile slow fashion products that are made by hand and developed with care. No mass production, and designed to be both beautiful and useful, suited for everyday life and once-in-a-lifetime moments. A brand after my own heart that I’ve mentioned here and there on the blog, but I thought it was about time for a decent interview!
Can you tell me who you are and what you do?
My name is Elene Veguin I’m 27 years old, I live in São Paulo and I’m a fashion designer. I knew I’d be in Fashion ever since I was a kid. I have studied at FASM in São Paulo, LCF London and Polimoda Firenze. I worked in the textile industry in a clothing and denim brand, then I worked in the shoes field and now I have my own handbag line Artéria with my business partner and friend Julia Sentelhas.
Julia (left) & Elene (right)
What sparks your interests and imagination at the moment? What inspires you?
I’m always thinking and observing nature’s shapes in its simplicity and magnificence. Architecture also inspires me. What motivates me the most is how to make people’s lives easier and how to surprise them with design, making bags differently. A big challenge always instigates our creativity.
Why did you start designing handbags? How did you come up with the idea of Artéria?
I never thought myself working with accessories until my graduation work at Fashion School, when I designed a bag which turned into a kimono for my beach collection. After that, the accessories classes in London made me more interested in the subject. I also started to realize that a lot of shoes sold in London were made in Brazil. I had the idea of producing something made of leather with an original Brazilian design. Julia and I felt a gap in the market of bags, where beauty and functionality don’t necessarily go together. One thing would often exclude the other, and we didn’t believe in that! After a lot of research, talks, studies and planning (around 9 months) Julia and I launched Artéria.
What does a perfect handbag need to have in your expert opinion?
A perfect handbag should be thought out for you. It is not just a bag, it goes beyond, just like a person’s life which is full of changes, situations, emotions, needs. Your daily routine is not necessarily the same everyday. So the bag that follows you, must adapt to all these situations. It can be beautiful and practical at the same time. As we say: love your bag and it will love you back.
How do you work? How do you get from a sketch to an actual product? Tell us all about the design and production process!
Julia and I work together all the time! We are better together than alone, and we complete eachother creating new designs. Most of the times we start thinking about the function of the product, we define what we want the bag to become and shapes that should transform. Then we experiment on sketches and 3D paper prototypes, different “mechanisms” until the original idea becomes real. This process can take many days.
With the idea defined, we go to one of our manufacturers so they can make the patterns and prototyping in leather. Once we have this prototype, Julia and I use the bags for a period, to check if it is working properly. If it’s not, we make the necessary changes.
Finally, it’s time to choose the materials, colours and details to send it to production. The whole process normally takes 3 months.
What are your top 3 favorite spots in Sao Paulo?
1. I love the Japanese neibourhood called Liberdade, in downtown.
2. MIS: Museum of Image and Sound/ MUBE: Museum of Brazilian sculpture. Both museums host great exbihitions in Sao Paulo.
3. Dowtown of Sao Paulo because it holds a great part of our history and it has the most amazing architecture of the city.
What are your 3 favorite travel destinations in the world and why?
It’s very difficult to pick 3 places, every place has what makes it special. I’ll choose the ones i’d love to go again, now!
1. Japan, I love Japanese culture and fashion, also I love big cities and their urban grey chaos. This place simply drives me crazy.
2. Italy, I’m half Brazilian, half Italian so I feel at home in Italy, it just lives in my heart
3. Maragogi in Brazil. It was my last beach destination in January 2014, it’s warm and has turquoise blue clear water in the Brazilian northeast, it’s awesome!
Any advice for readers thinking of starting their own business?
There is nothing better than to do what you love. It’s a huge cliche but it’s also very true, “we only live once”. My advice is to plan it very well, study the field, your competitors, the market, make a business plan. To have an stable basis helps avoiding a lot of future problems. Try to see opportunities in your life, make problems into solutions.
Find Elene’s creations on