Lisbeth Solsø Nielsen

Humans of Aarhus - Where are you from and what do you do?


I am from the west coast of Denmark but I’ve been living here for the last 10 years. I’ve also lived abroad – a little bit in Los Angeles. I lived there twice for 4-5 months working for a Danish designer.

Did you enjoy the US?

Yes I really like California, it’s very different from Denmark!

I was educated as a fashion designer, ever since I finished with school I’ve been trying to make a living out of it. So I haven’t ever had a ‘real job’!

I have had lots of side jobs – a lot of waitressing jobs. But this is my main thing. I have done a lot of different things in my design company – in the beginning I just made collections and had a small place in Hungary where they showed the collections.

After some years I got tired of new fabrics, new collections, season upon season. So I dropped it all and am now working only with second hand clothing.

I have a company called Pocketpocket studio and also produce clothes for private requests – if they want a wedding dress or jacket I design and make it for them.

Sometimes I have a customer come to me called Ellan who is the boss at VIA, she likes clothes which are presented well so we try to combine some good styles for her. She has money because it is quite expensive to make clothes like this! It’s not for everybody but for people who want something special for themselves, I can help them.

It’s Pocketpocket studios I will tell you about though. We emphasize reusing and recycling. I’m just so tired of the fashion industry, I just want to do something different.

I’m also a mum to a one and a half year old. I think it’s amazing to be a mum, it takes a lot of time and energy though. I kind of thought you deliver your baby and then go straight back to work but it doesn’t happen like that. When you have a baby it is always at the back of your mind, the routines and habits – I can feel it takes some of my creative energy away from my work.

I have 30 hours a week at the studio and not more – some weeks more and less but that is how much generally to support the baby too.

The website has different themes – I want to be very wide-ranging to get all kinds of customers. I would love to do more costumes, I’m doing some at the moment for a theatre in Horsens and have an interview with Fredericia theatre in a couple of weeks to make some costumes for them.

Making costumes is more fun – you don’t need to be a perfectionist as you do with everyday  clothes and can be more dramatic and creative in how they look.

You have been here for 10 years. What do you like about Aarhus?

I like that it is a little city – when you’ve been here for 10 years it definitely seems little. But at the same time it’s still a good size. It’s not Copenhagen but it has a lot of diversity. I love living on Jægergårsgade, even though it’s a small apartment we love living in that area.

I like that whenever there is a cultural event (at Aros or Godsbanen) it’s the same people coming every time. You get to know the other people. And it’s not so posh!

At fashion openings and shop openings in Los Angeles or Copenhagen it is very posh and people really dress up for it.

You also have the forest and the water everywhere. I own a small sailing boat in the harbour which is lovely.

It is a big enough city but very easy to get around – I have made a lot of friends here.

What would you like to improve in Aarhus?

This building where my studio is, is going to be pulled down. There were similar plans for the Institut for X. If they don’t keep places like this and Godsbanen in favour of building more profitable projects they are going to lose the fun side of Aarhus – I am definitely a little bit scared about that.

Higher rents would force me outside the city. Its great to be inside the city and have a creative, artistic vibe right in the middle of town. So many creative people like me are fighting for their rights to be here, being true activists.

I like the ‘jyskheden’: the jutland, down-to-earth feel about Aarhus. I think this is definitely a positive thing.

Over the next few years what are your plans? 5- 10 years

It changes all the time but right now my small fashion company Pocketpocket is gaining some momentum – I recently was contacted by DR1 (TV station) about appearing on their show called ‘From old to new’. On this show you follow people who use old, re-cycling, ‘garbage’ materials and make beautiful things out of them -wood, metal, textiles, etc.

I was shown on television in March 2017 which kickstarted so much for me because when you are on Tv people see you and call you up.

The response was good but in the future I would love to have bigger companies get in touch with me and to help them however I could. I want to be doing the same kind of things but on a much bigger scale.

I’ve also been trying to seek some funds to help set up a fabric workshop for women, especially immigrants from the Middle East who often have a culture of fabric working and sewing. It would be a kind of co-operative or social meeting place where people can learn how to work fabric and redesign used clothing, with the eventual goal to be able to make a living from it for everyone.

I’m trying to get the company bigger than it is now. I can do all the sewing and designing and fashion but if I want to set up a social project (like this one previously mentioned) I need someone with experience in social work and people. I can do it for a while but it’s not my drive.

I also don’t have time to work on these projects – working only 30 hours a week. This is shared between working in the studio, making private designs for clients and working in a school north of Viborg teaching how to re-design fabrics. Time is the currency I need!

If you had all the resources and power in the world, what would you do?

This is a broad question, so I will take one perspective. I would seek to change people’s mindsets – particularly regarding the environment and recycling.

For the last three years I have only bought re-used clothes and shoes. I would like to make everybody question “how can I re-use this? If I don’t want this, can I give this to somebody? How could I alter this?” so that they never throw something out.

There are some companies doing this but it’s very low key. It would be amazing in 10 years if the clothes shops here in Aarhus were all redesigning and upcycling – that would be my goal for the future. A more circular outlook on life rather than a factory production-line.

It would also be very social, with workshops on how to re-design and repair clothing becoming a commonplace, weekend activity that people would choose to do. These projects are already starting but I would love to see them flourishing and becoming normal.