Antonina Samecka

Born 1983 in Warsaw. A journalist, co-creator and co-owner of “RISK Made in Warsaw”, one of the most popular Polish fashion brands. The author of a book “Fashiontherapy. Why do you need all these clothes”. Granddaughter of Marcin Weinfeld, a well-known Warsaw architect, designer of, among others, the iconic building of Prudential. Mother of two children. Her partner, Michał Sufin, is a writer and satirist, he runs the Comedy Club.

I am known mainly from RISK made in Warsaw. This is a clothing company that I founded with a friend in 2011. This name reflects my nature. Warsaw is mine, and the other way around. Plus the risk of doing things that are important to me, breaking away from stereotypical normality and obviousness. Our collections are about that.

I have always been interested in everything that happened around me. Thanks to my mother, I knew Jewish culture. Jewishness is my strength and the source of inspiration. I will never forget my impressions from Taglit – a trip to Israel for Jewish young adults under 26 years of age from all over the world. It was my first time and I fell head over heels in love. I felt a bond. I even thought about moving there, but I finally stayed in Poland.

RISK is an experiment. I had had no idea before how to run a business. I was a female press journalist, I wrote about fashion and trends. I liked traveling, meeting people, observing what interests Poland and the world. And I was playing RISK, a board game about conquering the globe. But I have always had a home here. Poland is Hebrew for “Polin”, which means: “one should live here”. This is how RISK made in Warsaw was born.

The company grew out of our hobby, only then we added a business structure to it. We treated the idea of sewing clothes as a test of whether it was possible to do something from the scratch. And we made it. Our projects found their way to international journals. We had many nominations for business awards. We got to the finals of the “EY Entrepreneur of the Year” or “Businesswomen of the Year”, we also won several awards, for example, “Entrepreneurship Leader” award handed by the Prime Minister of Poland. Entrepreneurship is a bumpy road. Me and my business partner, Klara, have been on the verge of collapse twice already, but we managed to survive because we have a great team and clear minds. It is not easy to take hold of the dynamically developing business. Every day we argue about the essentials, in times of crisis we always stick together. Klara is uncompromising in her vision and its implementation, I am no stranger to “hucpa”. Such a combination works very well.

“Nie chcemy zajmować się tym, co modne, lecz tym, co człowieka obchodzi. Co go porusza.

In the RISK manifesto, we wrote that we want to build “long-distance relations, also with the planet”. Today, RISK sells mainly in Poland, but we have also started international expansion. Italy, Scandinavia, Great Britain – we are slowly conquering the world, and it is no longer a board game, but a reality. We now have about 300 patterns in constant production, we release 10-12 collections per year. That is quite a lot.

Everything started with a gray hoodie. It has become our trademark. Then we thought that our clothes should be named: “Dressoholic”, “Boho-tracksuit”, “Boss”, “Roman holidays”, “Just sweetness.” They are well-cut and comfortable at the same time. And above all, they express something. They are also some kind of an amulet, they help you develop and self-control. I wrote a book about it called “Fashiontherapy. Why do you need all these clothes”.

We look to the ethics of production from the level of the yarn and the making of fabrics. All knit-goods are made in Poland or other European countries. Our  sewing rooms are located in Poland only. In general, RISK is very much about Poland. We like to show things that amaze us here, so our collections are called, for example, “Tyrmand’s”, “Polish Flowers”, “Warsaw Birds”, “Warsaw Snow”. Every week our team brainstorms – we discuss everything that has surprised us, disturbed us or interested us. This is how ideas for collections are born. We do not want to deal with what is fashionable, but with what we care about. What moves us. We expressed it with the help of clothes and style. At the same time, one should feel comfortable in their clothes. Our collections comment on the reality. They respond to our emotions. And since we feel close to the LGBT community, this year we launched the “RISK For Love” collection. This is our method of amending the world, something that the Jews call tikkun ha-olam.

We sell mainly online, but also in our boutique, where we can have direct contact with customers and get their feedback. This helps us to touch up our products. The boutique is located in an old, pre-war tenement house in the centre of Warsaw on the site of a former chocolate factory. You enter through the gate right behind a Wedel’s chocolaterie. Nearby, there is the legendary “Warsaw” hotel located in the iconic Prudential building that was designed before the war by my grandfather, Marcin Weinfeld. This city has always been a part of me.

In 2012, on the occasion of the Synagogue Night [email protected] – night walks around seven Krakow synagogues – we launched the Risk OY* collection. It was our response to the interest in the Jewish culture, and an occasion to show its modernity. The world often thinks of Jews through the prism of the gloomy past, which of course must be remembered. We are trying to co-create the future. The collection attracted a lot of attention. Articles about Poland where being a Jew can be fashionable, “sexy and cool” appeared in the “New York Times”, “Times of Israel”, and “Jerusalem Post”. We made a cover of English language edition of „Haaretz“, the oldest and most important newspaper in Israel. The author of the article, Ofer Aderet, stated that the OY* collection “shocks Polish mothers, winks at Jewish friends and joshes all of them.”

There are many positive associations with Jews in Poland: our resourcefulness, solidarity, and head for business. Many people admire Jews for being able to support each other across the continents. I experienced it myself, because the growth of RISK would not be so fast if it were not for the advice of colleagues from international business. I also got a lot of support in Poland. I am lucky to have met amazing people thanks to whom RISK is much more interesting than if we only made it out of Klara and mine’s heads.