"Enkay Atelier, the story of a French leather goods brand based in Milan"

Article written in French by Marie-Astrid Roy, published online for “Le Petit Journal de Milan” on the 20/05/2021

Translated In English by Nastasia Nygaard Frydman

Link to the original article here


Entrepreneur and designer at heart, Nastasia, French-Norwegian, launched her leather goods brand Enkay Atelier in France but she chose Italy to live and showcase the art of the two countries' complementary know-how. And to develop handcrafted creations full of emotion.


Behind Enkay Atelier is the hand of Nastasia, a determined young designer of 28 years old, passionate about craftsmanship and tradition, driven by the weaving of relationships with the artisans she works with, and enriched by constructive emotional and professional stories.


Enkay Atelier, an entrepreneurial story filled with emotions


Armed with courage and willpower, Nastasia Nygaard Frydman's entrepreneurial adventure started very early. The French-Norwegian created her leather goods brand in 2014, at the age of 21, while she was a student at Parsons School of Design in Paris.

"My mother is a designer in ready-to-wear, my father is an entrepreneur. Starting my own business was an obvious choice for me," she explains. Although she has always been passionate about handbags, the world of leather goods came to her unexpectedly, while she was walking down the street in Paris, where she grew up. "I saw a man walking by with an extremely classic briefcase. There was nothing groundbreaking about it, but it instantly made me want to revisit this product for women," Nastasia explains. The result was the first Enkay Atelier bag, an ultra-practical clutch with a clean, structured and elegant design.

Determined, Nastasia designed it between classes, but it took her a year to find the right people to work with. "I made several attempts with workshops in Paris but it didn't meet my expectations. I wanted to go to the craftsmen, communicate with them, learn directly from them. I wanted to make leather goods, craftsmanship and not accessories or simplified leather assemblage," she says.

The young entrepreneur called all the tanneries listed in a catalogue of suppliers, without success. Until she found the person who became her mentor. "I landed in Castres, where Guy opened the doors of his atelier to me," Nastasia recalls with emotion. The designer immersed herself in the manufacturing process. Thanks to the know-how and availability of the craftsman who welcomed her, she explored and tried out different shapes, fabrics, colours and leathers, without having to launch herself directly into larger quantities or series.

But after three years, the workshop where she produced small series had to close. Her mentor advised her to find a new production workshop in order for her to evolve. "This small village in the south of France is living in slow motion, and it has become more difficult for young designers to produce small series in France," the designer regrets.


Design that combines elegance and creativity


It was then that Nastasia decided to resume her studies, which she had abandoned when she started her business. She headed for Milan and the Marangoni Institute to specialise in fashion marketing and communication. "I fell in love with Italy, and Milan in particular, a welcoming, dynamic and cosmopolitan city," says Nastasia. As if caught up in the creative energy of Milan, in 2019 she decided to stay. "Italy was a way of materialising my desire to evolve and assert my universe", Nastasia explains.

While the designer was looking for the same artisanal approach with a family atmosphere, she managed to find a workshop located in Varese. "It was love at first sight with Monica, who runs this workshop on a human scale," she says with delight. Especially since the company specialises in travelling leather goods, similar to the structured and minimalist style of Enkay Atelier bags.

"As Enkay Atelier travels and grows with me, it evolves as my personality grows. My style is a definition of myself," adds Nastasia. This style, initially minimal and structured to favour practicality, like her mother's Scandinavian side, has evolved towards the maximum under the influence of French and Italian cultures. "In Italy as in France, I am nourished by culture, beauty, elegance and quality," explains Nastasia. "Today, I accept to live with these two extremes.

Her 'Tote', for example, is crafted as an ultra-practical Scandinavian-style bag, enhanced by an extravagant choice of design material, vinyl. The "Croissant" - a small, vintage looking purse - was born in 2019, but was refined under the impulse of confinement: "Being forced to stay home made me want to free myself, to expel my creativity", says Nastasia. She adds: "I needed a clash of colours, a different form. So the further I went ahead through the design process, the more colourful the bag became!” She added plexiglass chains, for which she chose the links, one by one, in an atelier located in Parma.


Combining two excellent skills


And if the Belpaese allowed Nastasia to unleash her creativity, it also gave her the opportunity to perfect her technique by using two excellent skills. "In Italy, I discovered a more feminine approach, where detail is particularly important. In France, I worked with a more manual approach and construction, robustness and study of form.” Two approaches that complement each other perfectly.

As for the names chosen? Baguette, Spaghetto, Brioche? “I'm a fan of all these foods", confesses Nastasia. But it's also a testimony to the appreciation of simple things, as the Italians know so well.

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