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Ulrike Bollmann, a fashion designer and entrepreneur, is the proud owner of fashion label U/R Italian. She creates her own products, manufactures them, and sells them to those who truly appreciate fashion.

Ulrike’s greatest passion is art – closely followed by nature. She draws inspiration and strength from both of these inexhaustible creative sources. A creative powerhouse, U/R Italian in turn offers exclusive collections of accessories, handbags, shoes and belts, which come directly from a factory in Italy to South Africa – a touch of international flair on our sunny shores.

Here, she tells Go Hustle about the journey…


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The business

Founded in 2018, the team behind the U/R Italian brand has been working together successfully in the fashion business for more than 10 years. They have extensive experience in designing and manufacturing Italian goods, offering the South African market unique collections. We love that they produce only a handful of each item, which means their clothing is exclusive to each buyer.

READ MORE: The Art Of Being A Luxury Image Consultant

Looking to get a foot in the door?

Ulrike has some great advice for you. “The most important point of departure for success in any industry is a real passion for what you do,” she says. “Consequently, the first thing a young person should have [is love] for fashion itself; s/he should love colours, shapes and [have] imagination and courage when it comes to his or her trade,” says Ulrike.

It’s also good to practice drawing, and ideally to learn to sew. This way you can directly test your own ideas – learn by doing. “One should probably also try to enrol at one of the many fashion universities, or start an apprenticeship directly at a fashion atelier,” she says.


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Online material that can help…

“Nowadays it’s just as important to develop the initiative yourself,” says Ulrike. So be creative and contact the companies you’d like to work for. “Make a list of your favourite designers, research them; try to get in touch with the labels you like via social media, keeping in mind that labels are always looking for new ideas and young talent,” she says. Here are a few platforms that can assist you…


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Being a woman in the fashion design industry…

“At the end of the day the fashion industry is like all other industries where women are lagging behind. There are still too few women in management positions and, on average, men earn more in the same job as women,” says Ulrike.

In Europe, they are on the right track, she says, because they have laws that fix the quota for women, but also societies that are changing… “The situation for women has improved a lot, and continues to do so. In South Africa, there is still a lot to be done here, too. I got to know great, strong women in management positions – but also women who are single parents and hardly receive any government support,” she says.

U/R Italian has standards for their employees and wants each of their collaborators to be promoted according to their talents – origin and gender only play a role in the valuable experience that those things bring to the table; that which can enrich a company and make it more colourful.

READ MORE: “The One Piece Of Advice I’d Give My Younger Self” – Girl Bosses Dish Life And Leadership Lessons

Ulrike’s leadership lessons…

1/ “Don’t be so naive… Listen to your instincts and don’t let yourself be deterred.”

2/ “I would [give the same advice to] a young woman [as] a young man. There are no differences when we talk about the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, because when it comes to careers, we shouldn’t be primarily women or men, but entrepreneurs! Only if we start to think that way can we leave gender injustice behind us.”

3/ “Always follow your heart, mind and instinct.”

4/ “Make sure that your inner voice is not overtaken by that of others.”

5/ “Ensure the strength of your teams is better than the sum of their individual members – important things are never created by a single person, but always in the team.”

6/ “Stay curious and have the courage to make unpopular decisions.”

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