In Conversation with Magda Horváth: “I wasn’t always a conscious customer…”

I believe that for a very long time, we—including myself—have worked to accomplish things on our own, without taking into account other women in our communities. This doesn’t necessarily imply that we have always been in competition with one another, but we have mostly failed to recognize that if we complemented each other’s abilities, we could accomplish more.

As the well-known poet and author Alex Elle so eloquently stated in an interview, celebrating the accomplishments of women in our communities and intimate circles will never dim our own light; on the contrary, it will only enrich it and make us shine even brighter.

Even though I have a backlog of interviews that haven’t been posted to the blog because I’m juggling hundred other things simultaneously, while taking care of a five-year-old, I love providing Whimsical Connotations as a platform for women in my community to share their stories. These conversations are often insightful and inspiring!

Having spoken with many business owners and creatives in Budapest, and a few back home as well, I’ve noticed that more and more women are actually embracing the ethos of supporting other women in their communities. Which is amazing. When Magda and I met for a quick cup of coffee and a lengthy conversation at kids’ playground in my neighborhood, I learned that she as a new entrepreneur had already worked this out. In fact, working with and empowering women in Budapest was at the heart of her business, fostering a kind of symbiotic relationship that enhanced both her life and the lives of others in the community we are a part of.

Often we see a brand or a business but never fully understand the rationale behind its existence. Finding out the thought process and “whys” behind what they do is really fascinating to me! So..from embracing a conscious lifestyle to building a sustainable business… here is the story of Magda Horvath, the owner of AWEAR Store Hungary.

Can you share a little bit about yourself and your background?

I am a mom of two daughters, originally from south-eastern Poland, but I’ve been living in Budapest for many years. As for my background, I studied Finance and Investment at the University of Warsaw. And as for how I ended up in Hungary, it is quite the story!

When I was in the 1st year of my master’s degree, I visited Budapest with my best girlfriend, and we had such an amazing time. We also bumped into a bunch of handsome Hungarian guys at a party, and we quite impulsively decided to travel with them to Balaton the next day. Later, Gergő, one of the boys that caught my attention came to visit me in Warsaw. One time I traveled to Budapest to see him and then again, we traveled together to Milan.

Around this time, I was contemplating changing my job in Warsaw, and I secured a three-month internship at a company in Budapest. To me, it seemed like the universe was giving me a sign. So, I moved to Budapest immediately, even though I ended up not taking that internship job.

This is how things are for me usually. I prefer to take a chance, even if I may regret it later, I think it is better than not trying at all. Like many other ex-pat men and women here, I can say love brought me to this beautiful city and gave me a wonderful life.

What are you currently up to?

Right now, I am on maternity leave since I had my second daughter. She is only one and a half years old. I spend a lot of my time with her but I’m also working on my very first business venture in Budapest. I am incredibly excited because it is something I am passionate about.

Could you tell us about it or is it too early to share?

Of course. I’m opening AWEAR, a sustainable multi-brand store, in September. I’ve come to understand that as an adult, I could embrace numerous things that improve my life and I have… My awareness of my decisions and how they affect me, others around me, and the environment has deepened over the years. So, I’ve reached out to a few extraordinary Hungarian and Polish designers who are working towards changing the fashion industry by introducing beautiful and sustainable clothing. Through AWEAR, I hope to amplify their efforts and provide these women with a platform to pursue their social and entrepreneurial goals..

The cause I’m working towards motivates me. As the days draw nearer, I am focusing more on handpicking the garments for my shop for the autumn-winter season. It is so much fun as well! In the meantime, I am working on my social media strategy and content calendars, and so on. It is a lot of work, to start your own business, especially when you are a mom. I’m sure some of you out there can relate. But I have been missing this creative aspect for quite a while now and I love easing into it. The cherry on the top I would say is getting the opportunity of meeting many creatives and entrepreneurs like myself… from Hungarian brands and business owners to stylists, photographers, creators, etc. I am astounded by the level of input I have received thus far, and it is truly empowering! I am grateful for their contribution to my project, be it advice, ideas, or physical assistance.

It is such a lovely feeling when you see so many around you see the potential in what AWEAR stands to achieve and how they embrace this concept, and I would love to see them become my conscious customers in the future 🙂

What are some of the brands you will be working with?

There are quite a few actually but just to name a few: Mynalabel, Reya design from Hungarian designers and Bombshe Store and Holystic from Poland.

How did the idea come about? What inspired you to start your own multibrand boutique in Budapest?

Well, since I moved here, I found it quite challenging to find quality clothing. I used to wait for my trip back to Poland so I can buy it there and carry it with me or sometimes I would order, and my parents would bring it with them whenever they visited. Although this seemed like a solution at the time, it became more and more impractical.

When I identified this gap in the Hungarian Market, a thought drop me my head ” why don’t I introduce this idea to Hungarian women?” Considering the phase I am in right now, with two daughters, and still on maternity leave with a little time in hand, I thought this might be the perfect time to bring this idea to life and channel that entrepreneur in me.

What are your intentions with the AWEAR store? What do you wish to accomplish for the designers, and the customers?

I want to show Hungarian women that shopping can be done more consciously in our choices to support our ethos in life. Clothes are a necessity, there is no way around it. We all wake up every morning and get dressed before we go about our days. But, with the launch of AWEAR, I want to help women make more sustainable choices and become more aware of what we put on our bodies. I want them to understand their bodies, their comfort levels, and the impact the material and production of their clothes have on this environment.

There are many ethical and eco-friendly options scattered in the marketplace, and I intend to connect these designers with the customers, by bringing them all under the umbrella of the AWEAR.

We intend to guide them through the journey of falling in love with their clothes and help them build a sort of a relationship with them. We all struggle with ” I have nothing to wear” and in my personal experience it happens more often when your wardrobe is lacking basic and complementing pieces. AWEAR intends to help our customers put together a well-thought-out wardrobe taking into consideration aspects like “cost per wear” so we could altogether avoid something we’ve probably been doing for years – compulsive buying!

What is it that you wish to achieve for yourself through this venture?

My mission is to spread self-awareness, not only in shopping for clothing but in many aspects of life. AWEAR is only a stepping more and there are many things I wish to contribute to and achieve through it. In parallel to the launch, I plan on offering stylist advice. It is my aim for AWEAR to be embraced in recognized as a sustainable clothing store in Hungary in the coming years. So, if someone is looking for quality and environmentally friendly clothing, they first think of the AWEAR store.

You will be working closely with many local and polish female designers and many creatives and strategists. What are your thoughts on empowering women in these communities?

I am happy to see women being so successful in various professions, no matter what profession they choose. I am meeting many different personalities on this journey, and it is great to be a part of a supportive community. I believe instead of competing; we can help each other in many ways. It is important to me to collaborate and bring together women with different expertise and skills to achieve all our objectives and dreams together.

I also believe in today’s world; it is extremely important for women to be independent. Every woman deserves financial security and peace of mind to achieve what they want in life, no matter what life throws at them. I truly admire women for their ability to balance work and their family life, whilst juggling so many other responsibilities. Everyone has their thresholds and I think we should never judge but instead embrace our abilities and strengths, even our weaknesses, as they all contribute to who we are as individuals.

Besides the boutique, what are some other areas of interest?

Since the boutique project takes much of my time at the moment, the rest of the time I like to spend with my family. I know my daughters need a lot of attention too. I like to do valuable things with them like various crafts, teach them things, and tell stories. I like to read books and educate myself in areas like kid’s development, psychology, and business. As a family, we also travel a lot. Until kids are small, mostly within Hungary, we plan to get back to our regular traveling next year.

What do you have in store for 2022 for AWEAR and what can customers expect to buy from your multi-brand boutique?

The garments that will be available can be described as smart casual, timeless, and minimalistic. There will be suits that can be purchased and used as blazers and trousers independently, dresses, shirts and tops, quality basics, and since we start with autumn-winter collections, lots of knitwear and great outwear trench coats and wool coats as well. I am also focusing on bringing pieces that can be versatile, so that we can maximize their use, for example, a dress that can be also worn as a skirt or opened and used as a duster or light coat.

Holystic Basil Trench

It is my understanding that you try to adopt a more conscious lifestyle, one step at a time. What are some of the steps you’ve taken personally and professionally?

I am trying to, yes. With more or less success, I think what is important is to take steps that we can afford. Of course, some choices and some changes influence the level of comfort that we were used to or are simply a level of sacrifice we cannot afford at the moment, but it gives a good motivation when you see the impact you make. I am still not a big ‘eco freak’, I am not going to switch from driving a car to riding a bike, there are things that are hard to give up with, but there are a few things I do personally to limit our environmental impact.

We segregate our waste for recycling, limit using paper towels or paper in general whenever not necessary, use reusable makeup accessories, drink tap water, buy products that are not packed in plastic, if possible, use cotton and linen bags for grocery shopping, limit our energy usage in many ways, use public transport whenever possible, resell or donate clothes we don’t need anymore, save and reuse things that can be reused, do own garden and of course buy fewer clothes and if buy, choose sustainable producers. I am aware it is not yet everything we could do, but we enjoy discovering new ways to improve and have a less negative impact.

Professionally I want to minimize the waste and pollution generated by my business so what we do is choose recycled and recyclable or reusable packaging options, we limit our stocks to avoid overproduction and waste of resources. That is also another reason why we opt for made-to-order sales whenever possible. We also optimize our delivery chains by using alternative forms of transportation from our partners, who are also environmentally friendly themselves.

– Magda Horváth, Owner of AWEAR Store

Speaking of conscious living, the clothes we wear is obviously a big part of it. From your younger days to now, how has this evolved for you?

I was not always a conscious customer. I used to buy from fast fashion stores way more than I needed. There was also a time when I bought a lot of second-hand, which was like a treasure hunt for me and my friends at one point. I can see it was up to the volume of my wallet, where and how I used to do my shopping, but I just learned that purchasing sustainable and quality, doesn’t mean you need a lot of money. It just needs to be better planned and thought out. I would still not say my choices are perfect, but what is important is to go in the right direction. This is a process that takes time and effort to carefully plan your purchases and not get caught by a short-term urge to buy something.

Before we conclude could you share with us how you stay inspired amidst being a busy mom of two?

It is not easy to find time and power through after having long nights with the baby waking up a few times each night. I am the type of person who likes to have a long to-do list, and take pleasure in marking things as ‘done’. But on the other hand, if something cannot be managed during the day, I stay relaxed about it. Being a mom, a wife, and trying to build my own business meanwhile is not easy but luckily, I am quick with things, sometimes I am surprised by how many things can be done in one day. Also, my husband is very supportive regarding housework. And inspirations and new ideas, can come anytime, I try and note things down when it does. Like if you see me enjoying a nice walk with my daughter, I will also be thinking about a marketing strategy for my business at the same time 😉 Sometimes I think that’s a superpower we mothers have in common – multi-tasking!

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