Hi, it’s me, Inga.  I turned 30 last year. And that damn sure hit me unexpectedly.

After the initial horror and an early midlife crisis, this moment became a tipping point. A series of events in my life had forced me to reset. It was a moment of reflection on the "so far so good, and not so good". It made me redefine my future aspirations and set my mind straight on my goals. One thing was clear to me:  I wanted to finally live the lifestyle that I had always envisioned for myself.

I wanted to live a life that felt like it truly WAS mine. I wanted to be the person who I could whole-heartedly identify with. More rigid in her needs, her believes and settled in a place of comfort in her own skin.

My late twenties I had spent somewhat drifting from these goals of mine, I suppose!? I will never forget that unknown emptiness that haunted my thoughts as if someone had unplugged the thread that had always kept it all together.

Everything felt blurred in my mind. I questioned the decisions that I had made in the past between my social environment and myself knowing that I had lost my path of self-motivation. This pull translated into making the choice whether to stay in a country that seemed to not share the values that I grew up with versus returning to a country that I could no longer call home either. I felt like I had fucked myself over, a homeless nomad. 

At a time when I didn’t know whether to walk left or right, I chose to walk straight forward and founded INGA-LENA.


I remember the night that I started to work on the first collection. I forgot any sense of time and space. I worked through the night. Scribbling on paper, drawing out technical details, touching fabrics and putting the first looks together. With my desk covered with the notes and tears from scrap paper, my mind started to clear up, I even felt lighter as each minute flew by. Injected with my intense excitement, those fears, my confusion and the pain that I was feeling at that time all started to fade. "Let's make this mine," I thought. Something nobody can ever take away from me. I suddenly started to feel that I could design my own future with nothing but my inner will-power, my hands and skill set to guide me. Little did I even comprehend how real that was! 

I wondered how to build a brand and find a voice that people could hear at times when the rest of my life was going rather sub-optimal. Fears from these thoughts were starting to numb me. So many thoughts. So many ideas. So many unanswered questions ahead. I remember feeling like the loneliest person on the planet with New York throwing up all over my head, and this feeling repeating over and over again.

But exactly that moment of total chaos was also the biggest opportunity ever received, showing me that I had to mute my happy voice for a bit, but also the one of hesitation and restriction that would have told me to not do it!

I learned to re-connect with myself in a new way. I reminded myself of all the things that I could be so damn proud of! My unique story, a narrative that only I knew, full of comings and goings. With all its ups and downs, striking moment and people who had crossed my path, there was one thing that had always stayed by my side: my clothes. These clothes were my second skin that had created a bond for life. They were there and had carried me through every situation, the joyous and the sad ones.

Each garment holding their story and secrets to tell me. I look at them smiling while I reflect on the memories we shared.

And just like that a new brand was born.

INGA-LENA makes garment with a long-lasting life. They will support your confidence, highlight your beautiful body, and hug on to your skin during every memory. They will show off themselves without taking away the main focus of the woman wearing them. Your personality will make them different and unique. They were made to stand out on each woman and show off the different traits that makes them beautiful. They make you the unique woman that you are! 

Slowly my collections started to be my new voice and progressing into a type of communication that didn’t need vocal response. It was my reincarnation, my transformation moving my voice to be a stronger, louder source of communication as time passed.

I picked myself up one step after the other and suddenly, just like a newborn that learns to walk, I started to not only walk but actually thrive. I would walk on the streets with a smile from one ear to the other, embracing the success to having won against all odds and no-sayers. An inexplicable bliss when that inner confusion starts to resolve while the other threads start to interlock.

I had created a tool to share my ideas with others. A heartwarming experience when people started to create a chain reaction and a wave of support came my way to bring this boat to the waters. It still is a long walk. But after the first year, I can look back, feeling pure luck for having lived that momentum. It is the difficult moments that educate you, that humble you, and that creates a base to your final success.


It is still shocking to me, how much I was able to adjust to situations in the past and play by rules that were not mine. I had mastered that game. But did not expect on losing it and going invisible along the ride.

Talking to many other women who experience the exact same feeling, I call it the “illness of the 20ies”. Maybe an age in that many of us are trying to figure out who they are and who they truly want to be. Feeling the pressure from the outside world where everybody seems to have a plan for you. Just that we don’t know it.

I was trying to fit into a world that I knew would never be mine. Nobody in this city would ever truly understand a thing about my upbringing. Nobody would understand the road I walked and the memories that I had collected. I used to struggle a lot with this idea until it occurred to me that exactly this feeling of "not fitting in" was my unique super power. It is the discomfort that drives you in your ambitions, your creativity and your search for more at all times. I am never alone because I always have my two voices and two worlds with me. I am able to switch from one to another perspective and be my own storyteller and observer.

And don’t we all live with our own truth somehow? It strikes me how we are all a part of a chameleon society where everybody is just trying to blend in seamlessly. 

It becomes math.  If you got x number followers on Social Media you are fine. If you show up at x restaurant you are fine. If you have x amount of money you are fine. We still live in classes: the rich, the poor, the creative, the dreamers, and the do-ers. But what if we are absolutely fine on our own and without these categories? What if we connect on a human level and understand that we feel even better when being real with each other. If we dare to have our own voice, that voice that we formed as rebellious teens.

My 30th became the tipping point choosing to go back to who I truly am. To my voice.

INGA-LENA is the extension of just that. It stands for a strong belief system, for unbreakable values, and the ability to say NO sometimes. No to bullshit. Just come as you are and you will always be welcome!




Inga-Lena Rüttgers