Business & Finance
Brought to you by: Monaco Life
If you struggle to give away old garments because of their sentimental value, then the MyCrown Collection is a unique alternative. We speak to its creator Sophia Vaharis Tsouvelekakis.
Sophia Vaharis Tsouvelekakis, owner of Brooks Brothers Monaco, is a curious mix of entrepreneur and sentimentalist. This mix inspired a collection of home décor pieces made entirely from repurposed clothing and sustainably sourced fabrics, giving a second life to tired pieces and helping the environment at the same time.
The idea came about when Mrs Tsouvelekakis was going through old clothing in her and her family’s closets. She came upon several pieces she knew would never be worn again, but she didn’t have the heart to give them up. Instead of simply shoving them back into the closets, where they would take up space and never see the light of day, she took out a sewing machine and turned old clothing into new, usable home decorations.
The result was first her hallmark pillows and table napkins created from shirts, scarves, dresses, and skirts, which she soon decided was more than just a personal project, but a fantastic idea for a small business venture.
The business quickly grew and expanded to include towels, sheets, dressing gowns, candles and customised, hand-crafted accessories for homes and yachts using fabrics supplied by the clients for a personal touch, or using sustainable fabrics obtained by MyCrown.
Now, Sophia is giving back even more by collaborating with the Prince Albert II Foundation on a venture called Pillows with a Purpose, donating 30% of all purchases made in Monaco to the Foundation to support projects protecting the oceans and the Earth.
Monaco Life: Why did you call it the MyCrown Collection?
Sophia Vaharis Tsouvelekakis: My grandmother left me a lot of dresses from when she attended royal parties of King Constantine and Anna Maria when her husband was Minister of Health during the 60’s in Greece. To honour those memories and to keep them alive I turned the dresses into pillows, and I crowned them! Then, I started thinking of all the rest of the old clothes from my family. They were not worn anymore, yet we refused to give them to charity for the same reason, because they have a story to tell us. The third step was to turn this idea into a business. Due to Covid-19 and the lockdowns, our retail network had a stock of shirts that remained unsold and I thought that repurposing them was a great solution. In this way, they were not any more just past collections but new items. The name MyCrown Collection gives a royal flair to the reused products, showing that something old, worn out, or even boring, with some work and creativity, can become glamorous once again.
Who is your target market with the collection and why?
MyCrown Collection is all about memories. Memories we are reminded of through items we want to keep, even if we do not want to wear them anymore, as well as new memories that will be created from the MyCrown Collection that are not made through reused fabrics. People can send us fabrics or choose a design from our online catalogue and request a personalisation. We want to create something new and unique with our clients, just as they dream it. For example, we can create a collection of table napkins with favourite songs, bathrobes with funny quotes, candles with hidden wishes, double-sided table mats with pockets from shirts, and matching pillows from the remaining fabric. Anything is possible, we are open to the ideas and the wishes of our clients. Our target market is people who want something different and customised for their home decor.
Why did you choose to support the Prince Albert Foundation?
When the Greek night at the Sporting Salle des Étoiles in September was organised, SBM and Aleco Keusseoglou decided the proceeds should go to support the FPA2 (Prince Albert II Foundation). I asked if they could mention a more specific purpose, perhaps something that Monaco and Greece had in common. The answer really surprised me: we decided to support the monk seals of the Greek Island of Gyaros in the Aegean Sea. Then I went to the press conference where Olivier Wenden spoke in great detail about the island and its history as a place of exile for political dissidents in the 70’s. On the night of the event, HSH Prince Albert was explaining to me the beauties of this island and its ecological importance, which I, born and raised in Greece, had never visited before! In just those few days, I knew this foundation suited me perfectly and I am happy to support it with my humble pillows.
Not many people are given the opportunity to reuse their clothes in such a unique way. Do you feel you are contributing to the sustainability movement?
I started the MyCrown Collection because I had all those special clothes given to me that had no purpose any longer, they had just been hidden in my closet for years. Of course, I still give old clothes and items to people in need, but I have found a way to give a new meaning to all those items I am attached to and I cannot give away. I can enjoy them as my new decor pieces. I am glad to see many other brands are taking steps towards the support of the sustainability movement, one for example that I adore is Reconcept Designs. The owner is Reem Adeeb, a friend of mine, who lives in Cannes, and we sell her items in our concept store, MyHydra Boutique, located on Hydra Island in Greece. I must say, it is one of our best-selling brands. MyCrown Collection is a fun business project for me and if at the same time I can contribute to saving the planet, it is just double happiness for me.
Monte-Carlo overtook Larvotto as the most expensive district to buy property last year, at €60,000 sqm. The annual property report also shows that 417 resale apartments fetched over €2 billion.
The position of Secretary General in the Prince’s government, left open by the retirement of Robert Colle, is being filled by the current Deputy Secretary General, Marc Vassallo.
During his annual address to the press, National Council President Stéphane Valeri was optimistic for 2022, saying "there are reasons to hope that we can get back to a quasi-normal life.”
Businesses that are suffering an economic loss under the fifth wave of the pandemic will once again receive assistance from the government.