Vicki von Holzhausen reminds us to be conscious of our impact on the world.
The born-and-bred Californian first cut her design teeth for sleek European automative companies like Audi and Mercedes-Benz. But in 2015, back in Malibu’s warm embrace, she turned her attention—and a unique sense of luxury and geometry—to fashion: Her eponymous sustainable handbag company, von Holzhausen, was born, known quickly for its minimal aesthetic and ethical materials.
Here, the designer explains how—with conscious choices—we can all make this world a better place:
Live The Process: Have you always had an interest in sustainability, wellness and conscious consumerism?
Vicki von Holzhausen: Growing up in California, environmental consciousness was a part of our education. Living a healthy lifestyle is a natural part of life here. We’re always outdoors, enjoying nature all year round. We’re exposed to all the health food fads and innovations first.
In my experience, California has the most advanced perspectives about preserving the environment—from conservationism to water preservation to energy innovations. It’s been an integral part of our culture for as long as I can remember.
Once I attended design school, I realized that a designer has the opportunity to positively impact the world and environment by making thoughtful and intelligent choices. I started giving back to causes that I was passionate about as a young professional in my mid-twenties. I was inspired by the idea that we are not just given resources and talents to keep them for ourselves; we are meant to pass them forward and help others.
LTP: How did your prior experience inform the launch of von Holzhausen?
VVH: I began my career as an automotive designer in Europe, working on advanced vehicles for some of the most well-known European automakers. While there, I became intrigued by fashion design, especially the aspirational and lifestyle elements that were very similar to the cars I was designing. My experiences allowed me to see fashion from a different perspective and come up with a unique point of view, which I brought to the collection I envisioned. This is reflected in the von Holzhausen brand mission, the styling of the collection and the manufacturing of the products.
My aim was to find a better way of creating accessories with a focus on sustainable style merged an ethical approach with a minimalist vibe. I used my expertise to find traditional materials made in an environmentally conscious way, as well as more advanced unique materials from the auto industry, to combine with clean and timeless shapes.
LTP: What separates your leather alternative from others out there? Is it important to choose non-leather goods?
VVH: Our Technik-Leather is a high-quality, sustainable material with science behind it. It stands out because of its clean look and supple feel, which is similar to traditional leather, but with many added benefits: It’s water resistant, stain resistant, scratch resistant, and one third of the weight of leather.
It always looks pristine and flawless, which gives you an amazing sense of freedom to be able to take your bag anywhere without worry.
From my perspective, it’s fine to choose both leather and non-leather as long as you know that the product is ethically produced. This includes the ethical treatment of animals, ensuring that the leather is a byproduct of the food industry and that there are fair labor practices used to manufacture the product.
When purchasing a vegan leather product, you should make sure that the material does not contain toxins such as PVC that are unhealthy for the workers during manufacturing—and for the consumer, as well.
LTP: Do you have any wellness rituals or obsessions that keep you feeling balanced and healthy?
VVH: I try to eat a salad every day. I’m fairly inconsistent apart from that since I change my routine all the time.
For exercise, I really like high-impact training and interval training. It gives me a huge rush of adrenalin later in the day and it builds my endurance level over time. I rotate those types of workouts with simple weightlifting sessions that are about 20 minutes long and focus on a few muscle groups each time.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
VVH: Happiness is enjoying the moment, going with the momentum created and letting go of the things you can’t change.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
VVH: It means to be a conscious individual, mindful of the impact you have on the world. It means to take a moment and think through ideas, so you can maximize your efforts and create something great each day!