At the 2019 Nunavut Trade Show and 2020 Northern Lights Conference, Rannvá Erlingsdottir Simonsen, owner of Rannva Inc., received a Special Achievement Award for her unique initiative “Sewing for Survival”.
A native of the Faroe Islands, Rannvá first set foot in Iqaluit over 20 years ago. Her luggage included her love of the far North, two small boys, a remarkable training in architectural design, and oodles of determination. These assets have helped her develop a unique and successful business — RANNVA Inc. specializing in sealskin outerwear and accessories, and an artisan program — Sewing for Survival, in which creativity, respect and well‐being are key.
Sewing for Survival makes culturally inspired gift items and accessories, beautifully crafted from locally resourced materials: the line is charming and totally reflective of Arctic life and is supported by customers from around the world.
It is an organization imbued with cultural integrity and ingenuity and is making a difference in the challenged lives of many talented Inuit artisans. One by one, little by little, Rannva has, over the past 14 years, nurtured, taught, and assisted each individual by supporting cultural preservation, helping to improve the quality of workmanship, creating meaningful employment, and developing a market for these unique gifts.
As the International market for cultural authenticity and hand‐made products expands, so do the opportunities for Sewing for Survival products.
For centuries, the seal has been the cultural corner stone of life providing food, nutrition, and materials for Inuit survival. In Nunavut, sealskin, hides, fur, and accompanying animal parts are traditional local resources. But today, traditionally harvested skins are quite rare and highly prized commodities as hunters seek more remunerative means of employment.
Over the years, Rannva Simonsen has developed a passion for Arctic Ring‐seal, considering it to be one of the most exquisite ‘fabrics’ in the entire world. The hand, the drape, the subtleties of tone and colour speak volumes in her designer ear. With her deep respect for marine culture and her architectural precision, she has designed and crafted stunning coats for both men and women. Her clientele includes government ministers and officials, celebrities, and like‐minded wearers.
Rannva regards Nunavut seal skins as precious, to be used with respect and skill in the design and making of exquisitely crafted items. In constant demand are the traditional menswear mittens, styled for a perfect fit and lined with wool and fur — the crème‐de‐la‐crème for toasty fingertips.
Complementing these stunning classics is her sheared beaver line — VRONG — designed for everyone with an eye for colours and a sense of sartorial fun.
The company is currently involved in exploring market expansion possibilities in the UK and Europe and securing a bigger profile in Canadian museums. Negotiations are taking place with UK museums and organizers of cultural events to secure a presence in the International arena. The British Museum has placed a significant order with Sewing for Survival for gifts for the Exhibition shop.
Quite an achievement for this remarkable one‐woman company, deeply committed to changing lives for the better.
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