The two female founders of ALTRNTV

Transforming livelihoods in Romania's emerging circular fashion landscape

Every year on 8 March, the world observes International Women’s Day. This March, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship recognises the work of the female entrepreneurs we support. Join us every Friday this month as we celebrate some of these remarkable women and how they’re contributing to a more sustainable and inclusive world.    

Today, we feature Alina Țiplea and Daniela Staicu, co-founders of ALTRNTV in Romania. ALTRNTV (Alternative) works with local artisans to produce handcrafted clothing and accessories from sustainable vegan and organic materials.   

ALTRNTV is supported by our Poland and Romania accelerator programme, co-created by IKEA Social Entrepreneurship and NESsT

Transforming artisan livelihoods in Romania

For many small-scale artisans and clothing producers, it’s not easy to earn a stable income. This is even more true for artisans producing sustainable products in Romania, where the circular economy and sustainable fashion industry is starting to take off.  

In 2015 Alina and Daniela founded Atelier Merci, buoyed by their shared desire to advance Romania’s circular economy and passion for fashion. Alina, with her background in choreography and management studies, and Daniela, an economist graduate of ASE Bucharest, started working together over ten years ago at the Merci Charity Association and were looking for ways to create an additional sustainable stream for the charity.   

What started as Atelier Merci, a tailoring workshop in Bucharest, evolved into ALTRNTV, a collective of local artisans producing sustainable handmade clothing, shoes and accessories.  

 The social enterprise is committed to circular economy practices, using textile scraps from clothing to create decor and bags. It continues to offer recycling services to its clients for their used clothes. All profits fund the Merci Charity Association, which provides medical and dental care for children from vulnerable groups across Romania.   
ALTRNTV artisan showing her handmade clothing to a customer
An ALTRNTV shop assistant showcasing a handmade product by one of the artisans.
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More than a shop  

Coinciding with Romanian Design Week 2022, Alina and Daniela opened the ALTRNTV store in the heart of Bucharest, giving its community of Romanian designers and creators a physical location to showcase their sustainable, upcycled, and circular products – ranging from clothing, home decor, and accessories.  

Much more than a shop, ALTRNTV is a space where people can touch and try on these alternative products and learn about their unique approaches to reducing waste. “One of our designers collects plastic bottles,” Daniela explained. “She empties and cleans them before melting the plastic and crafting exquisite brooches and earrings from this waste product.”  

“When we people come to our space and are curious to learn, to understand sustainable alternatives, it reconfirms that we have taken a good step to open in Bucharest a space like many others in Europe,” she added.  

In addition to supporting its designers to earn a stable living wage, Daniela and Alina are passionate about amplifying the voices of local artisans, especially women. The pair run regular campaigns and workshops to share each artisan’s sustainability vision.  

“If we grow, our community grows,” shared Daniela Staicu, Co-Founder of ALTRNTV.  

Learn more about ALTRNTV’s campaign to support female designers.  

Supporting ALTRNTV to scale their business and impact  

From 2022 – 2024, in our Poland and Romania accelerator programme, co-created with NESsT. Through the programme, we supported them with expert mentoring, financing and business support to scale their impact, enabling the ALTRNTV store’s opening. We also supported Alina and Daniela in hiring more employees, obtaining quality certifications and improving their production capacity to meet rising product demand.  

With the support of the Poland and Romania accelerator, ALTRNTV hopes to build its sustainable fashion brand in Romania further and expand its network of artisans over the next few years - enabling more small–scale producers to grow their businesses while promoting a more circular and sustainable fashion industry in the country.