Zand-erover is a young Amsterdam-based brand that creates elegant, simple and yet refined leather products inspired by nature's geometry, shapes and textures. It is run by two sisters - Sandy and Shelly. We've talked to Sandy who is the founder and designer of the brand to learn more...
WHAT IS THE STORY OF ZAND-EROVER? HOW DID IT START?
I started the brand right after my graduation. I needed a new bag at the time, but I could not find anything that was just as I imagined. As I have always loved making stuff, I just thought, why not try and make something myself... The first bags were much more simple than the collection we have now. My graduation project consisted of a collection of mirrors in three different shapes; all inspired by nature. When designing the mirrors I thought, why not use leather to make these shapes? This was the moment when the first two Zand-erover's pieces were created - the 3D Case and the Coin Case. The fact that I first created the shapes using hard material - i.e. glass, forced me to design in a different way than you would normally do when designing leather products. I think you can still see this in our designs. They are quite solid and rigid. Once I graduated I officially started Zand-erover. At first, I was making everything myself at my desk at home. Later on, I moved to a small studio here in Amsterdam as I needed more space. After a year or so, my sister Shelly joined, as things got way too busy to do everything on my own. She is way better at the business side of things. Since I am quite chaotic and Shelly is very organised, I knew the two of us would be the perfect combination. And of course, it is quite nice to work together as sisters.
WHAT IS YOUR BRAND’S MISSION?
We want to create long lasting and fair products that people will treasure for a long time.
ZAND-EROVER MEANS “FORGET IT” IN DUTCH. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS TO REPRESENT YOUR BRAND?
Yes, that is right. 'Zand-erover' is a Dutch saying, which literally translates as ‘Sand over it’ in English. It denotes an attitude of leaving things alone to work themselves out. This is a philosophy that we try to follow. We chose it to represent our brand because it gives a hint to the minimal and down to earth designs that we make. Also, the Dutch word 'zand' means 'sand' which is the building block of everything and it is also referring to nature reflected in our designs. Apart from these, it is also a hint to my name - Sandy. :)
WHERE ARE YOUR PIECES CREATED?
Our studio is based in Amsterdam. At the very beginning, when we started, we did everything ourselves in this studio - from selecting the right type of leather, cutting and stitching to wrapping the finished piece. As our business grew we needed to expand our production. It was rather difficult to find the right business partner, so it took quite a while before we found the perfect one. In the end, we discovered a small factory in Poland where all of our collections are made now. They understand the craftsmanship of leatherwork and they are doing a really great job.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR PRODUCTS?
I think and hope it’s our design.
WHAT PART OF THE PRODUCTION DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST? WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE MOST CHALLENGING?
Designing new products is what I love the most. I love that it can be done at any time of the day (in my head), even in bed or during grocery shopping. It is also something that you cannot really plan for, it is spontaneous. I like photography, stand design, graphic design, all of those things so I also like taking care of our branding. I’m really glad I learned all of these skills during my studies, so we can do a lot of this ourselves. The most challenging for me is the sales part. Thank god other people are better at this!
TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR CURRENT COLLECTION …
Our collection consists of three families of products, each based on a different shape - a 3-dimensional one, a square and a round shape. For the Fold collection (all the items with the 3D shape) it took a while to get the pattern right, we even used Pythagoras formulae to get it right. The latest items are two round shaped pieces - Wallet Fine and Shoulder Bag Fine. These two items complete the family of Backpacks.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR YOUR LABEL IN THE FUTURE?
Well, when we originally started, we wanted to make a broader range of products than just bags and leather accessories, so this is something I still have in my mind and heart. In fact, we are already sketching some home products. In a few years time, we hope to have come to a point where our brand is easily recognisable. We'd like to create a clear style in our whole collection through shapes, materials and colours, no matter what type of product we make - bags, lamps or even wall art!
WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU USE?
We work with leather and brass (for zippers and other hardware). At the moment, we only use cow leather which is made in five different colours especially for us. The leather is made in Germany, only using German cows, and it has been treated with a coating so you do not need to apply any additional coat to protect it. The colour will stay the same and it is also water resistant. The hardware, which we designed ourselves, is also made in Europe.
JUST WONDERING, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR ONE OF YOUR PIECES TO BE MADE?
It really differs depending on the type of product we make. People often think that the sewing takes the longest, but it is only a small part of the whole process. It takes quite a few steps before the item is completely finished and ready to be sold. First, we have to decide what parts of the skin are best to use for the particular product. This is followed by cutting the leather and folding it (for our 3D designs). Next, the respective parts have to be glued together and sewn together. Now that the piece has got its shape, we stamp our logo on it and label it.
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?
When I am not working, you will definitely find me outdoors.
Even though living in Amsterdam has its city attractions, I try to go out of the city every weekend.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT DESIGNERS IN THE NETHERLANDS?
Dutch people are really down to earth.
I think you can see this in our designs.
A lot of people say our designs look Scandinavian, but I think they reflect Holland.
WHAT PLACES IN AMSTERDAM WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO DESIGN LOVERS?
I have to recommend Restored on the Haarlemmerstraat. It is the first store we ever sold to and I still love this place. They stand for a slow living and the owners have a really good taste. When visiting Amsterdam I always recommend not to stay in the central part of the city. For me, it is too busy. I love (live and work in) the East part of the town, which has more green spaces and lots of nice cafés and shops. It sometimes even feels like a small town.
WHAT DOES MINIMALISM MEAN TO YOU?
I love clean designs, but there always needs to be something special about it.
This can be found in the material, shape or in the story of the product.
Some people say minimal means simple, but I don’t think is the fitting word.