Meet Erika, our new product designer!

Joel recently sat down to learn a bit more about Loyal's new product designer, Erika. Pour yourself a hot drink and read their conversation!


Joel: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself ?

Erika: I’ll give you a short answer! My name is Erika Hegenberg. I’m a product designer from Brazil.


Joel: Which part of Brazil are you from?

 Erika: The South, where there is a peculiar mix of cultures!


 Joel: How long have you been designing for and what’s your favourite aspect of design?

 Erika: I have been working as a professional designer for over ten years and have done many different things over this time. I believe these experiences have made me a "swiss army knife" type of professional. I love design! Two aspects especially: One of them is process and the other one is people. Design is a way of thinking, a process of solving a problem or creating something. As a product designer, I like to think about from where materials are sourced, how it's transformed into something else (the production processes), and what happens with production waste or the product after use. All of those processes involve people, relationships between people and the planet. Design impacts nature and communities, right from the choice of materials and means of production. I have a special interest in manual processes, as they tell the these stories of materials being transformed by people in a more direct way.

I also think good design has to be good for everyone. Good for people and good for the planet. Good for people making it. Good for people using it. Good for the planet both before and after it is manufactured.


Joel: You have lived in India before, working with another freedom business and now you have chosen to come back to work at Loyal. Why did you choose to come back to Loyal?

 Erika: I have known Sarah and Paul (Loyal’s founders) since 2012 when I first came to India. At that time, I was working in another freedom business and Paul and Sarah were starting Loyal - developing the business and thinking about the products etc. We got along really well from then and always stayed in touch. I came to visit Loyal many times over the years I was here and I really like what they’ve created. Last year I was back in Brazil and Sarah invited me to join the team. They felt like it was good timing to have a designer working here on the ground. I felt honoured by the invitation! Loyal is a very special business, as it is not just about creating jobs, but transforming lives while transforming leather into beautiful products. At Loyal it's immediately noticeable that all this happens through genuine relationships, and I am excited to join this team, learn about this business model and culture, and hopefully contribute to it's growth!


Joel: What are your plans around work and design for the next few months?

Erika: I see a lot of potential for Loyal to develop more products, expand, improve and add new things to the product portfolio. So much can be developed with leather! I’m looking forward to getting my hands into work but it’s important to have a learning phase, so I am learning more of the language which is very important to daily work and life. I am also learning how the current products are made. Learning from the artisans - the ladies themselves. I’m doing this so I know how things work and where the space is to bring new things and suggest new changes.


Joel: How are you learning from the women?

Erika: I suggested that I would do the training just like they did. The women are teaching me in the same way that they learnt. So they are my teachers now, and I'm the trainee. I have my own tool pouch and drawer and I sit with them every day and learn from them.


Joel: What are some things you enjoy about India?

Erika: I used to say that India is incredibly hard but it’s incredible. The people are amazing, the culture is so rich and there’s so much beauty here. I like the challenge of learning to recognise the beauty that people create in this culture, often hidden in the craziness of this city.


Joel: What do you like to do in your spare time when you aren’t designing something?

Erika: I love cooking, music and photography. I'm Looking forward to practicing and learning more here in Kolkata! 


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