Inside The New Shoppingbag – Ellie Uyttenbroek

From time to time we ask users of The New Shoppingbag about their life. For this edition we got in touch with Rotterdam artist Ellie Uyttenbroek. Ellie is a close ally of SUSAN BIJL. She’s responsible for some of the amazing photo campaigns we’ve done over the past few years, and she made the fantastic ETNOMANIE collection, that we released last September. We had a very open-hearted chat in her workplace, which resulted in this very fun and interesting interview.

Describe yourself in 3 words
Energetic, optimistic, pusher

Where are you now?
In the menopause (laughs out loud). I’m in a strange moment in my life. I have quite the career behind me already and a lot of people assume that I have all my ducks in a row now, but I think that’s never the case for a small independent creative like myself. I’m asking myself if I should continue what I’m doing, but that’s an impossible question to ask myself as an artist. Because that’s what I’ll do anyway. The older I get, the more I have the need to do projects with social relevance and the more I ask myself if what I do makes sense and has any relevance. That constant rethinking of what I do, is the drive for my work.

Also, I am in this place where I find the fuss and hectic of these times very tiring. The world has moved so quickly the last 10 to 20 years, maybe since I became a mother. The anonymity of the city really gets to me. I long to move back to a small village where you say ‘good morning’ to the baker and the grocer.

Tell us something about you and The New Shoppingbag
I found the very first flyer of SUSAN BIJL this morning in an old cookbook, so I’ve been a fan from the start. Sometimes I tease Susan that I have too much of all these joyful colours, which appeared more and more all across Rotterdam as the bag became so popular. So I was also very excited when the Black & White collection was released. When that collection sold out really quickly and I did the ETNOMANIE project in the Fotomuseum in Rotterdam, I thought it would be really cool to do this collection of skin colours for SUSAN BIJL. We made it happen and I think it’s very thrilling that she has this weird brown collection now.

Apart from this history, The New Shoppingbag is a fantastic product.

Tell us something about Susan.
I have a lot of respect that Susan and Vincent have been at it for such a long time. That’s the only way you can make it in fashion and design. We’ve had talks in the past about if this is going to succeed or not. Susan always stood behind her product and see where she is now. She’s very modest and a very fun girl!

Which ecological measures would you take if you ruled the world?
I would ban meat. Not by making it unlawful, but by offering better alternatives. I would do my best to raise the consumer awareness about the natural resources of fashion. And I could think of 28 other different measures that are very important, haha. 20 years ago I told Ari (Versluis, Ellie’s partner in Exactitudes) I would start a militant green movement. I’m not known for my soft touch.

How do you brighten up your existence?
Through food, hahaha. Yes, cooking and eating food makes me very happy. I cook everyday.

Also making plans brings a lot of joy. Which could also just be thinking of which book to read on holidays.

And good news can really make my day. Like this morning, when I heard about this Liegebeest award by Wakker Dier, that really makes me happy. Then I go through the day sharing this with everybody I talk to.

What part does colour play in that process?
Not so much, really. Colour is such an everyday common thing. Yet, sometimes when a fashion designer uses a specific colour to speak out, this appeals to my imagination.

I do love yellow, by the way. That’s 100% my favorite colour!

Which music have you been listening to lately?
I always listen to classical music. Always. I normally listen to it on the radio, until at one moment that dreadful choir and organ music comes on and then I switch to my Apple Music, hahaha. For me, there are too many memories stuck to music. As I always like to move forward, I try to avoid that. I don’t need that trip down memory lane.

I also really like world music, that has a meditative effect on me. But also when something like Rammstein is on, I can really appreciate that. How fantastic it must be to make music like that. I miss that in the popular music of now, with all the singer/songwriters on their wooden stools.

What is your biggest loss?
My father. I think that people and love are the only things you can truly lose.

What is your ultimate destination?
Not too philosophical: Spain. I always thought I should’ve been born there. I really feel at home there. I love the people and the climate. I’d be very happy if I can grow old there.

Follow Ellie on Instagram
Photography by Jan Bijl