Rannva Erlingsdottir Simonsen is the owner and founder of RANNVA inc - former Rannva Design - a fashion label with designs using local resources from the land and sea combined with Rannva’s and the talents of other local artisans that come together to create a beautiful array of unique and sustainable made in the Canadian Arctic products, are worn by local inhabitants as well as people from other parts of Canada plus abroad.
Rannva comes from the Faroe Islands. A small independent and old democratic nation located in the middle of the North Atlantic.
The culture exists not unlike it has for thousands of years despite keeping up with technological advances. Similarly to life in Northern Canada she is no stranger to weather, lack of growing soil and a reliance on trade with other cultures as a way of life.
Even today 95 per cent of the economy is based on harvesting from the ocean with the other five percent come from raising sheep for both wool products and meat.
Nature, weather, and reliance on one another as a small community ,whether it be The Faroe Islands or Northern Canada, have a similar effect on the equal value of all who labour and succeed in sustaining themselves.
Why wouldn't a community who shares in the work to a common goal support one another and have seasonal celebrations if nature blesses them with good bounty?
That's where Rannva comes from and the that is the how and why she fits in the North.
Trained in architecture in Denmark with a specialty in environmentally friendly design she has always had an affinity and been drawn to creating new and practical things that simply make the world a better place by making people look and feel good.
Through working with costume design for plays she learned that those skills were completely transferable to fashion.
From an early age Rannva was drawn to the allure of the frontier of the Canadian North where she found a similar culture and landscape.
She came here in the Spring of 1997 with her two small children to follow her heart.
Despite the challenges of living in the North experienced by everyone, she was motivated by the variety of options combined with local resources and talent to fulfil her goal of designs.
Designs which strike a balance of mindfulness and regard for tradition and making people comfortable, looking fantastic and proud to wear Canadian made natural garments.
The rest of the sod was played on the roof of her new shop in one of the oldest buildings in downtown Iqaluit where the Nordic presence is a cool twist.
In reality she isn't that original.
Trade between the Nordic communities and Within Canada has been going on for thousand years - proven by archeological findings on Southern Baffin Island.
She continues to forge ahead, without apology, keeping a thousand year old traditions of trade alive and well.
With that in mind she grins and says about the grand opening "Well then, let's have an outdoor winter welcome celebration and a fashion show with music and food and make it free for everyone to be welcome to participate.”
Very short bio for a thousand year old tradition.
by Terry James Thibeault