Interview with the founders Ursu & Ines
By Deborah Haaksmann
Coa Goa material: Sail, sun & the sea
First logo sprayed on with a stencil
The first designs were made with recycled leather
Huge pouffe was used at an art festival in Andratx with the interactive installation Pust! by Ines Häfner
A new sail was given to us! Happy Ursu :-)
Custom made outside curtain
Nature is pure inspiration
Allrounder (S) Small was one of our first designs
The sails need to be washed and air-dried
Ursu in one of her first comesaroundgoesaround studio in the Santa Catalina neighborhood in Palma (2012)
What is Coa Goa?
This describes our creative desire to acknowledge that people are part of a cycle, which in our case translates to responsible design.
Our admiration for the astonishing powers of nature and its life cycles has inspired our stylish and smart upcycling.
What is Coa Goa?
Coa Goa is a creative company in the field of sustainability. We make something new from used materials, in the spirit of the circular economy and with high standards of workmanship, design and durability. We are currently reusing discarded sails from sailing ships.
What does your name, Coa Goa, mean?
Coa Goa is short and playful for comes around, goes around. It describes our appreciation for nature, for the essence of its forces, for passing and becoming. We translate this into design processes, into smart and aesthetic upcycling.
The sails we process have been all over the world's oceans. We turn them into products for people who see the earth as their home, where people move with love and respect.
What products do you make?
We make bags that are versatile companions for everyday use. Lightweight, durable and with enormous capacity. Each bag is unique. The color palette of discarded sails dictates the color of the bags. Mainsails, from which our all-rounder is made, are almost always white and have a hand-tight, robust feel.
Spinnaker sails are light and airy. This is what all other models are made of. We are especially pleased when we get our hands on a colorful sail that glows in pink, yellow or turquoise. In addition, we work with naturally tanned and waxed blank leather, which acquires a special patina over time. So each of our bags gets its own character and can be worn for many years.
What gave you the idea to make bags out of sails?
A few years ago, in 2007/2008, we had a studio together in Palma, at the beautiful Plaza Quadrado. Ines as an event visual artist and graphic designer and Ursu as a stylist and costume designer. One day a friend came by and asked if we could do something with a used sail. Ursu was immediately very enthusiastic about it and made various things out of this first mainsail. That's how the prototype for the Allrounder, our first bag model, came into being. The material sail was a big factor. It had something of a sense of departure into a new world.
Where do you get the used sails from?
Word has spread around Mallorca that we exist and so some sails just find their way to us. They are brought to us by the owners or the captain of a sailing ship. This makes us especially happy when the sails "find" us, so to speak. Then the sail donor receives a bag of his or her choice from the donated sail.
Some sails come from sailmakers in Mallorca. For example, an employee of a sailmaker came up with the idea that we donate a part of our income to the SAVE THE MED Foundation as "payment". This is an organization whose mission is to recover the biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea and to raise awareness among the population. The SAVE THE MED team regularly organizes plastic collection campaigns on beaches and visits schools to raise awareness.
As designers, what signs do you set in society?
Environmental protection is not optional or hip, environmental protection is a fundamental way of life.
And as for our product philosophy, Less is More. Use existing materials. Produce small quantities with love and care. Make ways as efficient and short as possible and produce locally.
How and where are the sustainable bags produced?
Coa Goa bags are made in our own manufactory in Mallorca. There we get the sails and process them directly on site, near the harbor. After the sails have sailed around the world, we make sure that they travel as little as possible by transport - just the journey from Mallorca to the warehouse in Germany and then to the customer.
What personal impressions and experiences influence your design process?
Love of nature. Seeing the world. Seeking perfection in simplicity. Functionality and beauty.
Startup adventure - What motivated you to take the leap from hobby to business?
The first bags, which were just for us and friends, generated more and more attention and demand. From the idea to the first bag to the decision to start a business, which we then did in the summer of 2018, 10 years passed. Our store went online in January 2020. So we really are a slow fashion company! We took a lot of time to write a business plan and set up our own production facility on site in Palma de Mallorca.
What are the challenges?
Creative dreamers must become entrepreneurs who are also capable of thinking and acting entrepreneurially. In the process, we noticed that marketing, for example, as it currently works, has nothing to do with our ideas. But we will not sell bags if people do not get to know our project. To find a compromise or our own way here is a big challenge. (link? In the article 1 year CoaGoa you can learn a lot about the adventure of building your own and sustainable business. )
What attitude towards life resonates in your products?
Freedom, clarity, softness, purity, joy of life.
"Designed by a dreamer" it says on your bags - what do you dream of? What do you dream of?
Dreaming of peace on earth! This sentence contains so much for us. Peace not only as the opposite of war, but also a peaceful interaction with people and with Mother Earth. No exploitation of anything or anyone. Respectful interaction with each other. That all people have the courage to take more and more personal responsibility over their lives.
And we dream of collaborating with different disciplines and developing more products. Right now we are looking for a vegan alternative for leather. Our material research has led us to a startup that is in the experimental phase of product development, researching how to grow leather from a symbiosis of yeast and bacteria cultures. It's a bit early to talk about it, but exactly what makes our time so exciting.
Which bag is your personal favorite?
Ines: Daily in combination with the Together Necessaire for small stuff. My Daily bag has been in daily use for years and gets a wonderful patina from it. The leather is getting darker and more vibrant. I also love the new additions Mini and Midi.
Ursu: Mess bag for every day and all-rounder for beach and shopping.
Where can you get a bag from Coa Goa?
In our online store www.coagoa.com/shop
and recently also in two great stores:
In Munich in a very nice store for sustainable fashion, the ABOUT GIVEN and in the furniture store SEIPP near the Swiss border in Waldshut-Tiengen.
And the Yogamat Bag is also available in two Yogastudios:
Practice in der Lausitzer Straße 9 in Berlin.
Ommm Yoga in der Turnseestraße 53 in Freiburg i. Br.