Nina Wood, the founder of the label ia io, offers since 2011 premium organic bedding from organic cotton satin and organic cotton. Here in this interview, she tells everything about the background, of her vision and motivation.
1. Please introduce yourself briefly.
Now I have been living in Berlin since 1986. I originally studied architecture. After graduation I worked in various architectural offices and in the real estate department of a bank. I was involved in the detailed design of various commercial buildings and worked in social housing. I liked working as an architect, but there are too many dependencies. Architectural design and the realization of architecture are dependent on many factors, people and building laws.
To me it was always important to be able to work self-determined and independently and be creative by producing something useful. Whether you plan a building, a piece of furniture or built up organic bedding – the development process is similar. If you can hand over a healthy, sustainable, fair produced, high quality product under your own label to satisfied customers in the end, this is just a beautiful thing!
2. How did you come to the issue of sustainability?
Presumably, when I was a child the influence of the 1970s was already indirectly formative. The older students demonstrated against nuclear power and I thought that was pretty cool. Also during the study I was very interested in ecological construction, although there were initially only a few actually realized impressive examples. The combination of good, ecologically sound form and natural materials has always been very attractive to me and to fulfill an important prerequisite to the human need for an environment where you can feel comfortable both physically and mentally. You can well argue about taste, but not about health.
Whether building design, interior design or even bedding – sustainability is an important issue in all areas of life. For me, it is therefore logical that this forms the basis of my label ia io.
3. How do you make your products or where do you source them from?
I get the fabrics of a weaving mill in southern Germany. This is part of an organic cotton project in Uganda and IVNbest certified. The buttons I get from a German button manufacturers – by the way the only one with GOTS certification. Sewn is partly in the Czech Republic, partly in a small factory in Thuringia. In any case, I know my counterparts personally, which is very important to me. Only in this way I can be sure that the entire production and manufacturing process is organic and fair.
4. How do you get ideas for new products, what materials do you use in preference and why?
I find ideas and inspiration everywhere. Collections are created in my head, on paper, on the PC, in batches. At the moment I make bedding exclusively from cotton because I personally find this material most pleasing. The organic cotton used by me is grow in so-called rain-fed agriculture, which means that no artificial irrigation is done. So you can really sleep in it with a good conscience. The buttons are made of ivory nut, also a very nice high quality, natural material. I use buttons because in contrast to zippers they can be sewn back on in a case of need.
5. Please describe your creative working process briefly.
I draw new motifs for my covers on the computer. There are finished and half-finished drawings that I’m working on every now and again, until I am convinced that this is good. But then I still have to decide which motifs should be actually produced. After all, I have to do advance payments. That is why my offer is not that large. But it is growing! The patches then are woven in Berlin and send to Thuringia. There my clothing factory sews them on the cut fabric, lets an embroidery “around the corner” put on the embroidery motifs and then finishes the whole sewing.
6. How do you reconcile your work with your family life?
Time-wise it is not always easy, but it works. Meanwhile, I’ve learned to discipline myself a little more. 🙂 Also the children are not so small anymore. Selfemployment means on the one hand a lot of work, but also allows a freer time managment. Often I work in the evening or on weekends. It is also good to have a partner who accepts it and understands it as enrichment.
7. How did you get the idea for your business and when did you get started?
I love beautiful linens! It fulfills basically two different purposes: For one thing, when you sleep, really no toxins should be absorbed through the skin. For you want to wake up indeed healthy and recovered. Secondly, during the day it mets another function: If you, like me, use and comfortably set up the bedroom as all the rooms in the apartment, then a beautiful bedding is a kind of soft furniture, the finishing touch of the furnishing, so to speak. Just as shoes are an essential accessory for the outfit.
I came to the decision to found my own label with organic linen in 2009. Then first I researched a lot, went to fairs, searched high quality materials and reliable suppliers. Since I’m pretty “picky”, that was not so easy. In November 2010, I patented the name for my label, the commercial application was filed in October 2011.
The ia io is a species of bat by the way. A nocturnal animal that protects us in our sleep from annoying insects and does not even need any bedding because it sleeps upside down, seemed adequate to me as a name.
8. What happened since the start?
A lot. Every day new challenges come up to me and I ‘m constantly learning, which is very exciting. Originally, I dealt actually more with solid materials: stone, wood , screed. Textiles react quite differently. Therefore, although I can build furniture and lay tiles I can not sew. Never mind, as an architect you learn mainly to add different disciplines together and to achieve the best overall result with the respective experts. Now instead of building trade fairs I attend textile fairs. Meanwhile, I even go to trade shows with my products myself. The product range is growing. Also the computer drawing programs follow a completely different logic. I could not draw vector graphics before, now this makes a lot of fun. The whole principle of Web 2.0, in which I now constantly move, was once a mystery to me. And the tax accountings have become considerably more extensive, too (and are often still a mystery to me, here’s a thank you to my tax consultant! ….)
9. What do you love about your job? What gives a special pleasure to you in your work?
Creativity. The self-deciding and determining. The independence in scheduling. To produce something that I am convinced of myself. Encounters with like-minded and interested in the growing area of sustainability.
10. Who or what inspires you?
Lots of things: I find inspiration in magazines, on the Internet, on trips, in the shower, anywhere actually. I always keep my eyes open. And the ears, it is important to listen.
11. What is your vision?
Environmental awareness will continue to grow, as there is more and more information in the media on the subject. Also the awareness of fair working conditions will increase. This will certainly affect consumer behavior. Everyone can only benefit from this.
12. How do you see your future? And the future of your products?
In the long term I would like to sell my products also more through stores. I would especially be happy if operators of eco-hotels and eco holiday apartments were attracted by my high quality beddings and these were used from them. The product range will expand, and I am sure (architects typically probably) that I will create always rather simple designs. First, there will be additional motifs with embroidery. Then other fabrics, such as bedding from organic linen or hemp. I also would like to increase the company with partners and employees.
13. You live and work in Berlin – where is your favorite place?
I love it to sit in the restaurant “Sphere” on the Berlin TV tower high above the city. The best is of course the sunset. Sounds really corny and like tourist in your own town, which does not matter to me at all, because I find it absolutely awesome!
14. What question haven’t we asked that you would like to answer?
Whether I sleep well? Yes, I never had sleep problems. Otherwise always help a good book, warm socks and good bedding!
Thank you very much for your answers!