Hanneli rupert, founder of luxury brand okapi, tells us what she’s learnt
Founder and flag-bearer of luxury goods brand Okapi reflects on her creative and business journey
Trust your creative instinct.
I began keeping diaries and sketchbooks when I was around nine-years-old, so design wasn’t really something I ever discovered. Rather, it was a natural form of expression, which I imagine most children have. I eventually studied fine arts and painted for several years before starting Okapi.
Learn from team talk.
When I was painting I worked in isolation. That was when I learnt most about myself. Being in a business however, that’s when I learnt about other people. After my experiences, the most valuable piece of advice I could pass on to others is just to listen – you learn so much more by not speaking.
Nature is the ultimate inspiration.
The nature and wonder of Africa and the link between the two inspire me. I am always in awe of the natural world. I don’t believe I will ever see anything man-made that can match it. That’s why I focus on sustainability.
Find a brand icon and develop it.
I’ve always been interested in unusual yet unendangered materials such as the Springbok horn. I wanted to elevate them to luxury status. The horns are sourced as a byproduct (as the majority of Okapi’s raw materials are). By incorporating them, Okapi is taking what would be waste, and creating sustainable employment on the African continent.
Respect heritage, involve community.
All cultures are born and built on legacy and tradition; that’s why I believe in social integration of people from all walks of life. One day I want to see and contribute to a world that reflects that ethos.
FROM FAR LEFT: HANNELI RUPERT; HANNELI’S DESIGNS TAKING SHAPE ON PAPER
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT: LATHRYUS & CHILLI RED OSTRICH SHIN CLUTCH; A ONE-OF-A-KIND OKAPI BAG CREATED IN A WOMEN’S WORKSHOP; THE YEMAJA BAG IN LEATHER AND GOLD