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“We have to be proud of what we do”

VAG visits the Creative Hub

Saga Furs and Saga Furs Creative Hub had the pleasure of hosting guests from Van Ansem Group, a well-known player in the fur industry, growing minks in the USA and many European countries. Julie van Ansem Goossens, Nicoline de Wit and Mitchyka Endhoven came with a clear message: the future looks bright when the well-being of minks is at a high level, and the development is based on sustainable actions.

The stories of family businesses are always fascinating and increasingly rare in these technology-driven days. The founder of Van Ansem Group (VAG), Jan van Ansem, became interested in fur animals in 1964 and acquired 60 minks to his farm in Milheeze in the Netherlands. After a couple of years of educational experimentation, he was encouraged to expand his operations, and thus Unicorn Fur Farms was founded.

The company expanded from the Netherlands abroad in the 1990s – first to Poland and then to the United States, Latvia and Romania. Its greatest pride is its marble white mink, Marble, which has won numerous quality awards. The company eventually also involves the three sons of the family and later their children, the third generation.

VAG’s Unicorn brand is strong, and the question of whether the company needs industry-wide certification comes to mind. However, Julie van Ansem Goossens emphasizes that the industry in its entirety is small, so it is better for producers to work together. There is power in co-operation, and it makes things work. Nicoline de Wit agrees, and she also emphasizes that it would be good for fur farmers to know the mindset of the whole value chain.

– For us, certification has value, especially for the end-users who see their skins coming from farms where animals are well cared for. It is good that we have a certification system, de Wit states.

A need for tireless communication

– We should talk more about the durability and recyclability of genuine fur. Fast fashion is harmful to the environment, unlike furs that, when well cared for, last from one generation to the next, says van Ansem Goossens.

She also emphasizes how a fur buyer supports local businesses in the fur breeding areas. However, the strict facts are not enough to justify anything in the current world. Mitchyka Endhoven describes the challenge:

– VAG gathers a lot of information about marketing and communications from many different countries. We are constantly dealing with feelings and opinions around the world. We must be able to influence them, not just in Finland or China, but everywhere. This is one of the biggest challenges facing our industry. We can produce very high-quality pelts, but if we don’t tell our story correctly, we can never affect the people, she concludes.