The Heroine’s Journey of Olu Vandenbussche

What is the best thing that I love about my work? Being able to shape my own future, invent my own work, meet great people, set up co-creation projects with designers and people I admire.

What is my idea of perfect happiness? Doing what you love – for me that includes drawing, designing… – in a place you love surrounded by your loved ones!

What is my greatest fear? Losing my loved ones. Losing my sight. My business not working out and me being forced to take a day job again.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? My restlessness: I simply can’t relax unless I’m in another country far away from my computer!

What is my greatest extravagance? Pursuing my dream! Smaller pleasures include treating myself to illustrated children’s books and cookbooks now and then.

On what occasion would I lie? To protect the people I love.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? The same thing I love: the uncertainty. It’s great to invent one’s own work, but at the same time it’s exhausting never being able to just sit back and relax. I’m constantly on the lookout for new opportunities, planning 3-4 months in advance…

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? When one of my students told me she wanted to become a textile designer after following my course! 😉

If I could, what would I change about myself? I’m a person of ups and downs, if I could, I would get rid of the ‘downs’!

What is my greatest achievement in work? My mission is to promote sustainable textile design and teach people how to design their own fabrics so they can wear clothes that reflect their unique personality and style. When people tell me my course helped them overcome their aversion towards designing on a computer, that feels like an achievement. I was also very happy when I was awarded the Bizz Buzz Award for Sustainable / Social Entrepreneurship in December 2015.

Where would I most like to live? Both me and my husband dream of moving to Portugal one day. We love the climate, the food, the port wine, the fado music, the friendly people and the slower pace of life over there.

What is my most treasured possession? I’m not very materialistic, although I love being surrounded by beautiful objects brought back from holidays (ceramics, textiles, handcrafted furniture… ) or handed down from generation to generation such as an easel I inherited from my godfather who was a painter.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city? The gardens of the Sint Pieters abbey are great when you want to relax, read a book, sketch… The abbey is situated in the city center, it’s gardens are sloped, they hold a tiny vineyard and a herb garden and give you that instant holiday feeling! I also love ‘Paard van Troje’, a book shop in the city center, where you can have a coffee or a healthy snack and browse hundreds of great books.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? is a restaurant in Gent run by 2 friends. Chef Tina, is always experimenting with new flavours and techniques (like smoking fish wrapped in bark!), new concepts (botanical dinners, food sharing… ) and goes out of her way to serve you high-quality, fresh, seasonal products at a very good price!

What books influenced my life and how? My parents told me many stories and I loved to read as a child. I guess that’s why I still love children’s books so much and wanted to become an illustrator (I still do 😉 ).

Who are my favorite writers? Haruki Murakami, Arthur Japin, Donna Tartt, Frank Mc Court…

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? Gabriel Rios, album ‘Gold’, Paolo Nutini ‘Iron sky’, ‘Let me down easy’… Hozier ‘Take me to Church’… music from the movie ‘Bab Aziz’

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? Doctors and nurses in warzones, people who help refugees, environmental activists…

Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime? The pianist, Schindler’s List.

What role plays art in my life and work? A big one, I couldn’t imagine my life without drawing, creating…

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? My husband is my greatest sponsor and I enjoy working with Jan Caus, co-founder of the Sneaker Academy Belgium, my second start-up.

Whom would I like to work with in 2017? I’d like to set up co-creation design projects with refugees.

Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2017? I’m just interested in meeting interesting people to work with. I’d love to teach textile design abroad or in an international context.

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on? I recently launched the Sneaker Academy Belgium together with Belgian shoe designer Jan Caus ( Our goal is to teach people how to design their own pair of ‘signature sneakers’ using sustainable materials and their own printed fabrics. We are also looking into the possibility of producing our own sneaker line in cooperation with a local social project.

Where can you see me or my work in 2017? I’ll be teaching courses on digital textile design and sneaker design at different locations in Belgium such as Syntra (Sint-Niklaas), Budalab (Kortrijk), Timelab (Gent), MIAT (Museum of Industrial Archeology and Textiles at Gent) etc.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? Creativity is what keeps me going. The day I lose my interest in creating, will probably be the day I die 😉

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? Tina Van der Heyden, chef of Lepelblad Anke Rymenams, Belgian illustrator and global nomad.

How can you contact me? Just send me an email! You can read more about Manel and Slow Design at and follow me on Facebook ( or Instagram (

Link to movie:


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