9to9 Girls: meet Pernille, Fashion Designer and owner of Kepaza label

9to9 Girls is a collection of interviews with strong and creative women who have all, in their own rights and on their own terms defined what a successful life is to them.

Meet Pernille, 25, the fashion designer and owner of  the Baerum based and world-wide sold label Kepaza. I was particularly taken by Pernille's story and ambition, and I am so delighted to be able to share it with you. Her mission is to empower women of all styles and shapes with feminine, playful and unique designs. Her edgy collections are infused with colourful shapes and bold feminine prints that reflect her life experience and personality. Her incredible story, is one of overcoming adversity and using the odds to show true resilience and strength. I loved Pernille's story and know it will inspire you too.

Where can we find you on Instagram? 

You can find me @pernillekepaza or @kepaza.no

kepaza fashion show

At 9to9, we love side entrepreneurs and their businesses. Tell us about yours!

I started thinking about it - what was then a side-hustle- when I was diagnosed with ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome; an illness that attacks the immune system) 12 years ago. Being ill opened-up a lot of time to really think and dream about what I wanted to do with my life, when I’d be healthy again and go back to school and eventually work. So I took up textile and sewing in High-School, and it became clear to me that I wanted to become a fashion designer and have my own my label. So I went on attending Esmod Oslo Fashion School where I got awarded the ‘Golden Needle’ honours. That’s when I started Kepaza at 19 as a side project. Between school and working on Kepaza, I also had an internship with Jeremy Scott in Los Angeles, followed by an internship with By TiMo in Oslo, and also worked in a fashion store and as a stylist and styling assistant.

How did it develop from there?

Things took a turn in January 2016, when I decided to go for Kepaza full-time. After being contacted on Instagram, I went to present Kepaza at New-York Fashion Week for the first time (I went back twice after that :) Things accelerated, and my story evolved into an award winning documentary LA directed by Sondre Fristad.

Your ambition for the next 6 months?

We do have big ambitions for the next few months. We want to take part in a trade show; have our clothes stocked in a new store, and grow our Kepaza online-store that sells globally.

We love positivity. So what is the thing you love most about yourself?

I love positivity as well, and I love how I use tough times to show others-and myself that I can get through it and even get stronger.

What holds you back in life?

I feel my illnesses are holding me back in life, and yet they also are what drives me to get things done when I have a good day.

What advice would you give your 23 year old self?

I think the best advice would be: Keep going, don’t be afraid and you are good enough to do what you want!

Your life mantra in one sentence?

Follow your dream, they know the way!

What is always in your bag from 9 to 9?

I always have with me my phone, a note/sketch book, a pen, my lip-balm, money and cards, keys and a phone charger!

What is women empowerment to you?

Women empowerment is to inspire each other, to support and be there to help each other, in good and hard times alike. I also try to empower women through my designs with more playful colours, unique shapes to create clothes that you feel can show off your unique personality.

kepaza pernille designer

Name 3 women who have marked your life and tell us a little about why.

This is so hard, there are so many amazing women in my life who support and love me!

My mother Siren. She has always believed in me and has helped me with everything from when I was ill; taking me to hospitals and rolling me in a wheelchair to now jumping in with Kepaza.

My sister Nathalie, she is the best sister in the whole world and I don’t know what I would do without her. She is always there and I hope I am there for her as well. She used her gap year to be my assistant and photo assistant.

The third one has to be ...all my friends! I just cannot choose one because I am so lucky to have all of their support and help with when I need it the most.

Not women, but I also have to shout out to my 2 brothers and father for always believing in me, without my family’s help I wouldn’t have been able to do any of these things!

How do you create your personal chamber?

I try to make my space full of inspiration and things that mean something to me, but I do live, sleep and work in the same place so it can get hard to find a balance. I love having flowers around, and books and inspiration boards in my space.

What's your approach to 'beauty'?

I thing beauty is a thing that explains everything, but still so little.

What is on your bucket list? Name 2 items

To be have my clothes in Vogue magazine and to travel to Dubai and see the amazing harbour. The Dubai harbour was one of my inspirations for my graduation collection at Esmod Oslo.

 If you could recommend 1 podcast and 1 book, what would they be?

There is so many amazing podcasts out there, but I would recommend the “Skamløs podcast” by Benedicte Haugaard and Sandra Romfo! This is great to get a big laugh and to hear two real girls talk about Life.

Book wise, I would recommend, No Mercy: Be the best with Mental training (“Bli best med Mental trening”) by Erik Bertrand Larssen. This book changed my life at Esmod Oslo, I did read it during my Christmas holiday and I went up one grade in my class!

Interview by EF X