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Meet the dancer who swapped Swedish Royal Ballet for Fife textile factory

Nina Falk and Adam Robertson, of Kalopsia Collective, started their business in 2012 <i>(Image: Kalopsia Collection)</i>
Nina Falk and Adam Robertson, of Kalopsia Collective, started their business in 2012 (Image: Kalopsia Collection)

She was a professional ballet dancer and trained at the Royal Academy in Stockholm.

And despite dancing from the age of three she decided it was no longer for her and decided to pursue a career in fashion.

After graduating with a degree in Fashion Tailoring and working as a pattern constructor, conceptual artist, print maker and fashion designer, Nina Falk is now at the helm of a Fife textiles factory.

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Ms Falk ran retail and fashion brands in Sweden that catered for an exclusive client base in Stockholm.

And her work has always been focused on reducing waste within the sector through thoughtful design and skilled manufacturing and they are principles in force at the Dunfermline site.

Alongside her husband Adam, they set up and run Kalopsia Collective with much of their work focusing on reducing waste within the sector through thoughtful design and skilled manufacturing.

HeraldScotland: Former ballet dancer Nina Falk was with the Swedish Royal Ballet
HeraldScotland: Former ballet dancer Nina Falk was with the Swedish Royal Ballet

Former ballet dancer Nina Falk was with the Swedish Royal Ballet (Image: Kalopsia Collective)

The former dancer has strived to be taken seriously and when HRH the Princess Royal, President of the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) for more than 35 years, came to the open their new premises last year, it was clear Ms Falk means business and changing perceptions.

"Pigeon holing is a big challenge for us all, there is still a deeply ingrained idea that women are machinists and men run the companies," she said. "It sounds silly and it is changing in new and small businesses but if you go to big trade shows you will see almost all male company directors being followed around by female PAs. A lot of people still assume that Adam runs the company and I am secondary to that."

Their clients include the Royal Academy of Arts, V&A Dundee, Prickly Thistle, Dovecot Studios and British Contemporary Artist Anna Mac.

Kalopsia Collective launched their ‘Assemble’ products in 2016.  Created with simplicity, craftmanship and sustainability in mind, it is the UK’s only system of standardised textile accessories and apparel, made from almost any fabric supplied by the client.

The business was named Ethical Green Business of the Year 2019 and Made in Scotland Manufacturer 2018-2019 and challenging modern slavery.

HeraldScotland: Dunfermline-based textiles firm Kalopsia Collective
HeraldScotland: Dunfermline-based textiles firm Kalopsia Collective

Dunfermline-based textiles firm Kalopsia Collective (Image: Kalopsia Collective)

Ms Falk added: "The textiles and fashion industry runs on women, plain and simple. We need to acknowledge that fact. Textiles and Fashion suffers from deeply ingrained sexism that informs every aspect of how our industry is structured and that includes at a regulatory and government level. It’s so deeply embedded that we barely even seem to comprehend the extent of the issue. I notice it daily.

"We want to push for a transparent industry, to be able to pay everyone properly, to see textiles as an industry to be proud of and an industry that actually leads the way rather than being one of the worst offenders."

Kalopsia Collective hosted the launch of the Scottish Government’s new circular economy strategy, Making Things Happen, in 2016.

"We became a social enterprise in 2016 to maximise the amount of social good we create while balancing this against our financial goals," Ms Falk added.

They also worked with Zero Waste Scotland and the Scottish Government on last year’s launch of The Circular Textiles Fund. They’ve now launched a funding bid to ‘citizen investors’ to raise £100,000.

Previously based in Edinburgh and now trading from new 8000 sq ft premises in Dunfermline, Kalopsia Collective is working with Scottish Communities Finance Ltd to raise finance through Textile Production Bonds.

The six year fixed term minibonds will allow Kalopsia Collective to grow its textile manufacturing infrastructure in line with its ethical and sustainable ideals, supporting local employment and the circular economy whilst reducing textile waste.

Mr Robertson, co-founder of Kalopsia Collective, said: “We are delighted to start 2023 with both the launch of our Textile Production Bonds and a visit from Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal. We decided to use bonds to raise finance to grow Kalopsia Collective as the model is well suited to enterprises like ours with social and ethical aims. Whilst growing the UK’s textile manufacturing infrastructure, we are committed to reducing textile waste, creating sustainable local employment opportunities and ensuring that the circular economy is embedded in everything we do.”

Pauline Hinchion, Managing Director of Scottish Communities Finance said; “Our goal is to match socially aware investors – those who are looking for both a financial return and a social return - with  social and community enterprises looking for ‘patient capital’. Community bonds create a partnership between investor and investee, providing a long term investment at attractive rates with shared values at the heart of the proposition.”

Ms Falk said she had always wanted to live in the UK since her first visit here.

"I had always wanted to live in the UK since the first time I travelled to Brighton with a friend when we were 14 years old for a month. I came to  Scotland to study my Master Degree in Edinburgh and I didn't want to leave."