Ullvøruhúsið, the old „Yarn and wool-ware house“. 101 years ago, people walked through the same door in Tórshavn, a moody door with a mixture of great looks and charming stiffness. The door is part of the scenery of the central and yet cozy street Niels Finsensgøta, number 27. As a child, Karen Sissal Kristiansen used to come to this place, her great-grandfather lived next door. A year ago, the wool-ware house reopened, as the home of the Faroese fashion brands Steinum and Shisa Brand – pronounced like: She’s a brand.
The idea, work, design and universe of Karen, when it comes to wool; she prefers her second name, Sissal. Babel of voices and languages in the Ullvøruhúsið, Faroese, Danish and English words floating around, invisibly taking a seat on hangers and the bare essentials, the hand-knitted sweaters of Shisa Brand. Sissal hold’s a Master’s degree in business and marketing, worked as a teacher at a business school and as a brand consultant at an advertising agency in the Faroe Islands. “I loved my job“, she says, and still, she quit, because she felt that she needed to focus on something else: her Shisa Brand, hand-knitted sweaters, cardigans and jackets; unique bags and accessories.
Slow fashion, there is no mass production, Sissal is knitting while we talk. “Making use of local materials is a very sustainable and connected way of living“, she states. Therefore, all pieces of her collections are knitted and manufactured in the Faroes, she’s not knitting each piece herself, of course, skilled Faroese women team up, because Sissal needs to get some sleep now and then, and she still does marketing jobs as a sideline, but none of this effects her knitting skills, I bet she could knit in her sleep as well.
The Shisa Brand style: Faroese patterns, traditional and advanced, whispering stories of the mystical Faroese nature and the beauty of rough weather and landscapes, mainly rooted in Faroese and Japanese culture. As an exchange student, Sissal spent a year on Hokkaido and feels a deep connection with Japan ever since then, so there is a dose of Japan in Shisa Brand, too. Besides Faroese wool, Sissal likes to work with fish leather, implementing her self-imposed sustainability-commitment.
In 2017, she won the competition “Blue Fashion Challenge“. Sissal created a fish leather smock and travel bag. And, to top it all off, a seaweed fabric dress. Her life motto: “Embrace opportunities, but with a motivation that is not goal-driven. Sometimes, you just need to do things, without having your eye on benefit or outcome.“ The moody door teases the next customers, Sissal is knitting. The next prototype of a hand-knitted sweater might be well on the way.