Camilla Skovgaard created Of Origin after seeking a simpler life here in 2014. The island became her home, its landscape and architecture her inspiration. She left her 5-star hotel residence in Dubai for a wooden cabin in the Morna Valley. The Danish-born designer was a graduate of London’s Central St Martin’s School of Fashion. After working for design house Marc Jacobs, she launched her own line of shoes, which were quickly embraced by fashion editors and sold in 33 countries at retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue, Harvey Nichols, Net A Porter. Camilla was riding high, counting Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kristen Stewart as fans. Until the day she began to question the fashion industry’s waste, the chemicals, the harm to animals. She noticed the unnatural colour of a polluted river near her Chinese manufacturer. She was exhausted by the fashion industry’s 3-month cycles and so she felt was the planet.
Camilla’s fashion ambition was to reduce waste, using 1 or 2 primarily local and sustainable materials, with minimal environmental cost, compostable fashion, that would return to the earth without trace, without guilt. Her vision to offer customers simplicity, back to essentials. She gave her new brand the name ‘Of Origin’, OO meant to signify ‘zero’, from the source. Shoes made from fibres grown in Europe, jute and flax (fibres worn since 5000 BC), hand stitched in Spain. Linen clothing; grown, combed, spun, cut and hand sewn in Lithuania. Camilla modeled these new designs herself in photos taken around the island, creating a major buzz on Instagram with leading influencers from Europe, Australia, South Korea, Japan flaunting their Of Origin purchases.
Katja Niemela met Camilla in a yoga class Katja was teaching. Originally from Finland, Katja had similarly recently left her frenetic life in London as an executive head-hunter for a peaceful life in Ibiza. A natural entrepreneur, Katja began organising yoga retreats and opened several women’s clothing shops around Ibiza. Their friendship deepened as the Nordic women shared a concern for animal welfare and the highs and lows of adjusting to island life. Though Katja admits it was months before she realised her friend Camilla Skovgaard was deaf… Camilla being a skilled lip-reader who never allowed deafness to hold her back from doing anything and everything.
Sudden, surprising, swift illness ended Camilla’s life in 2018. She was 46. Her grieving parents turned to Katja, entrusting her to keep alive Camilla’s design legacy: Of Origin. It hasn’t been easy. While she continues to run her own businesses, Katja has come up against major manufacturing, copyright and legal hiccups since taking over. Throughout she has been steadfast in her loyalty to and belief in Camilla’s vision and refused to walk away from this Ibiza business.
Her determination is paying off. Today Of Origin footwear is sold in Six Senses Ibiza’s Agora boutique, its top selling footwear brand. Agora curator Daniela Agnelli says Of Origin was one of the boutique’s first suppliers and explains that the shoes have come to symbolize the mood of the resort. Without any marketing or tradeshows, the brand receives much attention. Katja was approached to supply Of Origin shoes for Gwyneth Paltrow’s global lifestyle Goop empire. Similar interest has come from boutiques across the US, Europe, Australia, Japan. Katja’s plans to grow the brand include reintroducing Of Origin unisex linen clothing in addition to Camilla’s unpublished designs, a midseason/winter range of boots and coats, natural fragrances, lifestyle/interior products. The natural Ibizan dream of designer Camilla Skovgaard carries on and into the world.