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Stine Goya grew up in a small town north of Copenhagen, and started her career in the world of fashion as a talented model. Relocating to London, she became so amazed and inspired by the big fashion houses like Chanel that she decided to take the leap and launch her very own label in 2006. With her studies at Central Saint Martins under her belt, Stine Goya has become internationally recognized as a talented designer, with an eponymous line represented in 90 leading stores across the world. 

With a husband and two-year-old son, Stine has found a way to maintain a balance between her successful fashion empire and family life. We met with the designer to talk about her love of sewing at the age of eight, her ever-challenging teenage years, Copenhagen as a fashion capital, and her personal style.

Your birth certificate reads Stine Nistrup Madsen. Where did Goya come from?

It comes from when I started modeling in London. At the time, I was in a relationship with the designer Henrik Vibskov, who signed me up for a model competition without me knowing. I actually won the contest, and I started working with this agency that didn’t think that Stine was such a strong name. So they changed my name to Goya, which is something they do with a lot of models. It happens quite often and needs to be a name that people can remember. They thought Stine was a little bit difficult.

So it’s not affiliated with the artist Goya?

No, not really. I mean, I think he’s amazing! But I didn’t choose it.

Looking back, how and when did your passion for fashion design begin?

I think it actually started when I was very young. I lived in this very small village, north of Copenhagen, where there was this after-school arrangement where you work on hobbies. And from when I was eight years old I was really into sewing. So in all my spare time I went over there to sew clothing for myself, my parents, and my family. So I’ve had it in me for quite a while, I must say.

How would you describe yourself as a teenager?

As a teenager I put the whole designing and sewing thing a bit to one side. I started high school but decided to leave to go to Central America, where I lived for a year when I was sixteen by myself in Honduras.

Wow.

Yeah, so I didn’t really go the straight way. I always wanted to do something that was a little far out when I was younger.

I read somewhere that as a teenager you stood out in your flashy outfits – is that true?

Yeah, it’s true. We lived in this kind of fishing village, but the school that I went to was a little bit upper class – like a private school. So all the kids were always wearing these beautiful flowery colorful outfits and I was wearing some weird stuff. And I think I was teased quite a lot actually, but I didn’t care. I wore these neon colors, which really don’t fit my type of skin-color! I sewed my own outfits and because it was a posh school, I remember I sewed on these labels so it looked like I bought it.

Could you describe your sources of inspiration and general workflow?

It varies. Sometimes it can be an exhibition that I just saw in Paris. Sometimes it can be from a movie that I’ve seen, or a book that I’ve read. It can be really different, but I usually find a theme and then I build the collection around this theme. So I create a moodboard, then I find colors to see what fits, and then I start drawing the prints. Sometimes I have a print in mind and that’s where I start — it always changes.

What would you say is your signature Stine Goya style?

I think it’s these little jackets with petal details. I think that’s my signature. I’ve always done that – since the first collection. And maybe also the pastel colors – coral is the main color that I normally include in the collections.

How would you describe your personal style?

I like to wear my own designs – it’s very easy.

You’ve won a few awards, but what has been the biggest highlight in your career so far?

It’s a great thing to get a pat on the back, because it is a tough business. There are so many brands out there so it feels really good to get that kind of acknowledgement. But right now, we’ve started up with an international partner in London, Paris, and Milan. I was recently there to meet them in their showroom. It feels really good to be a part of a selection of brands that are really high-end and to be amongst some good designers. It’s an important step for us to move into the international market, and be in a place that feels really good.

You recently opened the doors to your first Stine Goya store. How have the preparations been for you guys?

Even though it’s such a small store, it’s actually been quite a challenge, because we had actually no idea of how to do things like this. It’s a whole new world for us. But I think we've had a really good start.

What does the future look like for the brand Stine Goya?

Our home market is really developing and we’re focusing on international sales now. Of course we want to develop the brand further and I think that’s an ongoing project. But our main focus to become popular in for example the UK and France.

Now that you have a family, has it been hard to juggle business and personal life?

Some days it can be difficult leaving at four o’clock, but it would be like that in another job as well. It’s not easy, but it’s not easy for anyone to want kids and to have a career at the same time.

What is your opinion of Copenhagen as a fashion capital?

Overall, it’s really good. There are some good things happening here and it’s especially great that we have some new designers that we actually foster. I think we can attract people from abroad but of course it is hard, we are small. People still think that Copenhagen is the capital of Norway, or that it’s a country. But I definitely think that Copenhagen Fashion Week is doing a really great job promoting the city. I think there is great potential in Copenhagen.

To further explore Stine Goya’s universe and to look for retailers please visit her website.

Interview has been edited and condensed, originally appearing on Freunde von Freunden, as a collaboration with Elle Online. See the second part of story on their website here