Tucked away outside of Cape Town in a rustic little town with as many dirt roads as tar, you’ll find non-european. A few low buildings surrounded by green lawns with a child’s tyre swing hanging from a tree out front. “We made the decision to put our family first above our work,“ explains Tarien, coowner of the non-european brand alongside her husband, Louis. “For us as a family with our kids, and also the people (who work for non-european) as our family, so that’s why everything is here.” Their two incredibly cute little girls, one running, one still crawling, play happily between their house and the renovated warehouse that houses the factory. The ten women who work inside it are warm and friendly and the whole operation has a lovely
“When I initially applied to study fashion I wrote in that I wanted to start my own business and I wanted to employ people,” Tarien continues, “and I wasn’t as passionate about fashion as I was about creativity and people. So the fashion is just a vehicle to have an influence in people’s lives, and the people around them.” Tarien got her wish a little earlier then she perhaps hoped for, starting up a business under the mentorship of Elizabeth Galloway in her fourth year of study at the Elizabeth Galloway Academy. Elizabeth provided the inspiration for the brand, but Tarien made it fly, and took full ownership of it two years after it’s launch.
Tarien’s husband Louis matches her perfectly in his passion for South Africa and her people. “In this country there is so much opportunity for everyone to find what you’re passionate about, pursue that and do something that will empower and enable other people to do what they need to do,” he says. “The cool thing is generally the opportunity finds you. Often people go and look for opportunities, which just leads you on a rabbit trail, with things you shouldn’t be in. Whereas if you do what you want to do, and you do it with excellence and humility, you’ll end up where you need to be.”
non-european certainly seem to be in their sweet spot, with their brand growing in strength with it’s flattering, functional, beautifully crafted clothing, and their family expanding to support even more members. One of the ladies in their factory, Olive, came in as temporary help before a fashion show, “I was supposed to work for them only a week, but then they asked if I could stay. So I’m still here.I like it,” she says with a warm smile.