As a designer working at the intersection of fashion, science, and technology, Jasna Rokegem believes that innovative clothing can improve the quality of human life by supporting people’s physical and even emotional needs. She and her team create prototypes of apparel that could facilitate not only exploration of space and other planets, but improve many aspects of life here on Earth. As a participant of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) through support from the U.S. Embassy in Belgium, Jasna travelled to India to meet other innovators from around the world. She gained knowledge and formed relationships that continue to support her mission to transform the role of clothing in human life.
Jasna was just 25 years old when she spoke at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Not only was she the youngest speaker invited by the U.S. space agency, but the first Belgian one. As founder of Jasna Rock, a design lab that combines innovative fashion, science, and cutting-edge technology, she offered the audience a unique approach to preparing humans for life in the future.
This young pioneer and her team design and create clothing prototypes that could one day improve human life on many levels. “For me, it is really important that fashion be interactive and has a really functional aspect. You could see it as a crossover between sociology and technology. It becomes really like a living organism on your body,” Jasna explains. She dreams of creating designs that could even help people connect to each other more deeply. “Imagine, right now, we are communicating through social media, through texts, through pictures, and emoticons. But in the near future, these will be ‘cave drawings.’ We will be able to communicate in a totally different way by actually transferring our emotions.” For Jasna, the potential for technology to improve the quality of human life is limitless.
Jasna’s curiosity inspires her to think about the future, and well beyond all that is familiar. “I am an inhabitant of Earth, but I would be very eager to explore more of this universe,” she says. However, she continues to find many new and inspiring experiences here on Earth – some at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). Through the support of the U.S. Embassy in Belgium, Jasna attended the 2017 conference which took place in India. The annual event focuses on the role women entrepreneurs play in making communities stronger and more prosperous. Jasna and her fellow participants had opportunities to network, attend workshops, share innovative ideas, build partnerships, work with mentors, pitch their ideas to investors, and more. Jasna says, “It was a great opportunity to hear, to discover and to learn about the key entrepreneurial challenges, as well as the latest trends and transformations, in different parts of the world.”
The GES helped Jasna build lasting relationships that continue to support her work today. “I even have the feeling we created a little entrepreneurial family with people from the U.S., Germany, Slovenia – and we still see each other. I even did a little collaboration with one ofthem,” Jasna says. “So I think this is one of the most beautiful and inspiring entrepreneurial events you really can do.”
Jasna considers herself a dedicated pioneer, yet stresses that true innovation results from teamwork. “I really believe if you combine your own expertise with the expertise of other people beyond your own industry,… you’re able to grow faster and more sustainably.”
Jasna would like her designs to one day help in exploration of the Moon or Mars. In her vision of the future, humans will need only one garment, “just like the astronauts,” she explains. That garment would be adaptable to all human needs, from weather protection, even to communicating with others – in the same way that today a smartphone can serve its owner’s needs in so many ways, Jasna explains.
Jasna’s creative mind also focuses on great challenges humans face today, particularly relating to the environment and climate change. “The fashion industry is still the second largest polluting industry in this world,” she says. Yet she is hopeful. “This is really a problem that we can turn around.” Jasna holds herself to the high standard in designing clothing that not only caters to human needs, but to Earth’s needs too.“Dare to dream big.”