Sonia Erneux seems to be a woman from another place and time. A time when the world was more peaceful and more beautiful. Sonia is helping to bring that beauty to anyone that she touches, herself or indirectly through her wonderful line of womenswear at Love Tanjane.
ML Dreams: Sonia Erneux, Owner, Designer and CEO of Love Tanjane, Ojai, CA
madeLOKAL: What was your childhood like?
Sonia: I grew up in Brussels, Belgium. My grandmother on my father’s side had a corset shop. I loved working with her in the store. She showed me how to do projects on the sewing machine and I saw what it was like for her to run her business. I remember the bras, corsets and underwear, and the beautiful old ladies coming to my Mamy’s shop for unique ties and metal. I think that those early memories of working with her really inspired me to be in business for myself.
As a child I was very creative and business minded. I was always making things; sewing, drawing and decorating. My dad was also an entrepreneur. He owned a nightclub and beauty salon and was an antique dealer for many years. I worked closely with him at antique fairs and flea markets and began buying and selling antiques alongside him.
He encouraged me to study art history, but I had my own ideas. My mom was working as a knit-wear designer in New York at the time and when I visited her there as a child I was fascinated by the city and how different it was than the old school energy of Brussels. In New York I began to see a whole new world of possibility and opportunity.
madeLOKAL: When did you move to America?
Sonia: I acted on impulse. It was in the early 80s, while I was visiting my mom. I was drawn to the city and decided to stay. I got a job in a lingerie store and worked as a restaurant server to start. I have always loved to work and New York is the perfect environment for that.
madeLOKAL: Where did you go to design school?
Sonia: After moving to Manhattan, I enrolled at New York University and studied international business. I was going to sewing and needle point classes on the side for fun. Most of my design education came from real-world experiences. I have always had a passion for intimate apparel and clothing design. I knew what I liked and as I started Love Tanjane, I created what I loved and found the resources, fabrics and sewers to make it happen.
madeLOKAL: How did you end up in California?
Sonia: After 10 years in New York, I began to want a change of pace. I had been traveling to California a few times a year to work and see friends and family. I loved the contrast to the busy chaos of the city. I realized I needed the sunshine. The laid-back spiritual lifestyle really grounded me and that was really growing on me. So I left New York and moved to Los Angeles, which eventually led me to Ojai.
madeLOKAL: Are there any activities you are passionate about?
Sonia: I like gardening, cooking and hand-dyeing. I don’t feel there is a big separation between what I do for work and what I do for fun. I love and am passionate about my work. I find it very fulfilling. The thought of women enjoying the clothing I create makes me very happy. I enjoy hand dyeing in the garden. Most fun is to play with dyes to create and experiment with new washes and color process.
I have a painting studio and paint portraits in my free time. We have a vegetable garden and I love to cook fresh food from our garden and from our organic farmers here in Ojai. I enjoy sewing once in a while. I’m in to decor and love the process of making design changes around the property and creating new spaces for taking in the beauty of our home.
madeLOKAL: What is your favorite color?
Sonia: This is a tough one since it changes with the seasons and spirit of the times. I try to make time each day to clear my mind and take in the beauty of nature. I have to say at the moment I am really into vibrant shades of blue. So, overall, I’d say indigo is my favorite.
madeLOKAL: Why is natural important to you?
Sonia: For me, I do love to work with local sources and natural fabrics like cotton and linen.
madeLOKAL: You use low-impact dyes on your fabrics, do you make or source them?
Sonia: In recent years we have begun to dye all of our production in house so there has been a lot of experimenting with different dye processes. We source most of the dyes we use for production.
madeLOKAL: Where do you source your textiles?
Sonia: I go to the LA textile show. I like new resources. I follow my instincts and go on feelings.
madeLOKAL: Where are your silhouettes cut and sewn?
Sonia: We do everything in Ojai, California
madeLOKAL: Describe your workspace
Sonia: I always try to surround myself with beautiful views and clean sight-lines. I like order and structure in my environment. My cat Lisette will come hang out with me while I work. Often I make a cup of tea, put on some gloves, get the clothes pins and big buckets set up by the stainless steel sink I have set up outdoors. Being in nature while I do my work equals fun and creativity.
madeLOKAL: What is your everyday uniform?
Sonia: A vintage slip
madeLOKAL: Do you listen to music while you work?
Sonia: No, I don’t really listen to music that often. I enjoy the sound of the birds, the breeze in the trees, the playful voices of the neighborhood children.
madeLOKAL: Are there any local designers whose work you love?
Sonia: Dosa by Christina Kim