HANIMANNS is a fashion agency for African designers based in Zurich. Their aim is to provide you with the best quality brands from Africa thus connecting the designers via their network. Herweekly interviewed founder Melanie Hanimann, a woman graced with an amazing smile and a boss like facade, great energy with a very focused mindset.
What is Hanimanns and how did it begin?
I travelled to Ghana in 2011 as a volunteer and fell in love with the culture. Now HANIMANNS opens the door to success for talented designers from West Africa. Equal partners are the prerequisite for ambitious fashion projects. HANIMANNS forms the cultural link between the indescribably many and moving cultural traditions from the almost undiscovered fashion Mecca of Africa and the European market.
Who were you before this amazing company kicked off?
I have always worked in the fashion industry, for a long time as head of marketing at Modissa, a fashion house in Switzerland. Despite my regular job, I always took the time to travel, Ghana was a destination that I visited again and again out of fascination. With HANIMANNS I have combined the two things i feel passionate about.
How would you describe Ghana? and what is needed for African fashion to be valued in europe?
Ghana is an extremely peaceful and friendly country, the people are incredibly nice, open and positive. I miss that extremely in Europe, Ghana has been a functioning democracy since the 60s. Moreover, the infrastructures such as electricity and water work extremely well compared to other countries within the region. That makes producing, working and living a little easier.
African fashion has an aesthetic that has not been seen very often before. A lot will happen in the fashion world and it has already begun. You can see how big brands like Dior, Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs and many more bring African aesthetics into their fashion. So there will be a lot more to come, for African brands this is a big chance. For African brands to be able to keep up in the international fashion market, they have to adapt to international standards in terms of quality, timing and so on.
If you were a dish of food, what dish would it be?I think I’m a Chinese noodle soup.
A relatively simple but good and solid basic broth, and it get’s interesting when someone or others put their favorite ingredients into it – whether if it is vegetables, meet or noodle variety – it will come out well and you can enjoy it 24/7. I hold everything together. I could work well alone as broth, but I need good people around me to make it fancy and perfect.
What is a day for Melanie like?
I’m an early riser, I get up between 5am and 6am. I start with my morning routines, which includes meditation, stretching, learning Chinese, sports. I prepare myself for the day. Then I work 2 hours for HANIMANNS, often small tasks, answering mails and things like that. When I’m in Switzerland, I do my freelance work afterwards, because I still have to earn money.
In Ghana I then go to the factory side or meet the designers for meetings and so on. Around 7pm I do HANIMANNS tasks again, in the evenings I often work on bigger tasks. At the moment for example I am refining my business plan for an investor pitch but apart from that I meet friends.
Around 11pm I start my evening routine that focuses on reviewing the day, taking notes and doing my to do list for the next day… Around 12 I try to be in bed. At the moment every day looks like this, there is no difference between the working week and weekend but to be honest, i love it.
Success, what is success to you?
I see every small step as a success. I think it’s important to have a big goal in mind, you really should dare to dream big. But you should celebrate every single step you take, otherwise you freeze out of fear of the big goal.
What are the next steps for you and Hanimanns?
There are several next steps that I am about to take.
Sales: On the one hand, I have been selling in Switzerland for a year now and have now taken the first step abroad. I hope to sell my brands in more countries soon.
Sustainability: I’m working with the designers to optimise processes, we’re going after the suppliers to see if they also produce as fairly and sustainable as possible. If not, we look for alternatives. We are also increasingly working with materials and products that we upcycle.
Production: I want to set up a production facility in Ghana so that my designers can all produce through this production. This way quality control can be better managed and synergies can be exploited.
The world is becoming ever more emotional, what does it mean to be (her.) for you?
It’s great that the world is getting more and more emotional! People should be loud, say if something is not right. As an individual, as a company, as a start-up, as an entrepreneur one cannot solve all problems at the same time. Often this is demanded from the outside, but it doesn’t work, if I’d try to solve all fashion problems, I wouldn’t have started today. That’s why I think it’s very important that a brand focuses on something and tries to do it as right as possible. WEAREHERBRAND (her.) focuses on giving women a voice. HANIMANNS focuses on supporting ethical and sustainable African fashion. When all these brands work together, support each other, learn from each other and benefit from each other, a lot can be achieved. I am looking forward to it!
If you would like to follow hanimanns on their journey, please find their socials below: