Every child dreams about what they’re going to be when they grow up. But in Dace Lindberga’ s case, she began her life’s work while still knee high to a grasshopper.
At age six, Dace began knitting, crocheting and sewing clothes for her dolls. A bit later, she was revamping mum’ s old dresses and dad’s shirts to make stylish gear for friends and herself.
“I hated how everyone in the Soviet times was dressed the same,” she says. “So I created my own fashion using what was available.”
In the wake of the global financial crisis, the marketing gift business she had established with her husband went under, and took the marriage with it. Searchng for a way to earn a living, she went to the Burda sewing school in Rīga and turned her hobby into a business.
Today, Dace runs a boutique knitwear enterprise which keeps people in Latvia and abroad elegantly warm. Working alone with both needles and a knitting machine, she produces beautiful woollen jumpers and coats for both men and women, from teenagers to adults. Every item is individually made, based on the customer’s measurements, and they can choose personal touches like dispensing with hoods and colours.
Dace loves earth tones, especially grey, but emerald green and light blue are very popular right now. And while her philosophy is “less is more,” she can add lace finishing if required.
“I do it from the heart, and I think the customers can feel that,” she says. “It’s really important to me that people feel comfortable and look great wearing my work.”
Although she is influenced by designers like Japan’s Hitomi Shida, Dace never copies anyone else. She also does her own modelling with a bit of help from her teenage sons. They can be seen in the picture here demonstrating a recent unisex collection made by Dace.
Putting in 12-hour days making garments, Dace admits she doesn’t have much time for marketing. About 90 percent of her sales are to Latvian customers via her Facebook page, while the rest travel abroad thanks to her Etsy shop. The name of her brand, Marta Lindberg Knitwear, came about because customers in Russia couldn’t pronounce “Dace.” And Marta Lindberga was Dace’s grandmother, who gave her those dolls many years ago.
“They were my first customers,” she laughs. “Compared to a decade ago, Latvians are more trusting today of our own artisans. We see that they are making tasteful, high-quality things, and they have access to top materials from around the world, so why not support your own people?”
Despite dealing with the pre-winter rush of orders, Dace surprisingly has the time and energy for a second profession as a Vedic astrologer. While she can consult the stars to see what’s in store for clients, she insists that we have to make most of the effort ourselves.
“After my divorce and the loss of the business, I started asking – why is this happening to me? What have I done wrong?” she says. “We reap what we sow. Karma isn’t something abstract – it’s down to our actions. If I do something good, I’ll get a reward, if I do something bad then I’ll get punished.”
So, does the near future hold for crisis-wracked Latvia? According to Dace, the same planets that came into alignment at the start of the last lockdown are at it again now. But nothing is forever.
“Things will definitely get better by spring!’’ she says.