Suaveco

Suaveco: Ethical fashion brand producing chic, affordable and guilt-free clothes.

United KingdomCambodia
Year Founded:
2015
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Suaveco believes that clothes can be the tools of a positive impact while still being chic, classy and affordable for everyone. That is why we produce with HIV affected women from Cambodia guilt-free unforgettable clothes made from organic materials.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if the clothes we are wearing could be the tools of a change for the better?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Due to the pressure of fast fashion, the industry has become the second most polluting after oil where the production of a T-shirt can consume a thousand litres of water and where toxic pesticides, child labour, slavery and underpayment are used on a daily basis. Sadly, ethical fashion brands often lack the transparency, their prices are very high, the variety of clothes is small and the design is too hippie and not appealing for a classy person.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We work with a small community of Cambodian women that have been affected with HIV and through providing them with living wages, employment and possible collaboration with different NGOs, we work towards their better future. We design our clothes in the collaboration with the professional and respected designer that has worked for the best brands. The clothes are produced by our community in Cambodia that uses organic materials. The ethicality is taken care of by experienced sustainability and social responsibility consultants that have also worked with the leading companies and organisations. We aim to become the biggest ethical fashion brand in the world with the big variety of beautiful, affordable and hard-to-resist clothes.

Awards

As for now we have not applied for any awards.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The project aims to impact the environment and the community of HIV affected women in Cambodia. We use organic cotton only and we make sure to use sustainable ways of producing and dying clothes so that the damage to the environment is minimal. We provide the women with living wages, help them with developing new skills and make their society better. In general, our mission is to improve their living and working conditions. In Cambodia women are not in as good situation as women in Western countries so providing them with a job that gives them a chance to make a living is an important act. Also, thanks to the fashionable city London is, we can spread their story and the message behind fashion industry and the action #whomademyclothes.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Thanks to the collaboration with Lensational, a charity empowering women through photography, we have organised a photography workshop that helped Jasmin (a teenage Cambodian girl that is one of the main designers of our clothes) to improve the ways of promoting her designs. We try to improve also her linguistic abilities. Kate, the co-founder, has collected funds to build and refurbish some of the facilities of the community, so that some of the workers we work with have new or much improved homes. In the future we would like to work different communities in Cambodia and other countries and we want to cooperate with different charities, such as Pencils of Promise, to build schools in the areas we operate.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

As stated above, in the future we are going to work with other small communities across the globe to produce our clothes and help them with the development of their societies. The more clothes we sell, the more recognisable we are thus we will need more people to produce the clothes which is an amazing opportunity to use the clothes as a positive impact on communities spread across the world that are in need. We believe that changing the world is about collaboration, not competition, so we want to work with other charities focused on different issues, in order to grow and have bigger impact.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

As for now we are looking for the investors to collect enough money to buy first textiles (we already have the sewing machines). When we start selling, we will make sure that the prices will cover the costs of production, materials and will leave some percentage for the future growth and new materials.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The majority of ethical fashion brands focus only on the use of organic cotton while not protecting the garment workers. At the same time the design of their clothes is often too hippie and not compelling for a classy person, their prices are too high and the choice small. We are preparing a big collection and we make sure everything is chic and sustainable thanks to our experienced team. However the biggest priority is put on our community and on making people aware of the people who stand behind the clothes they are wearing by, for example informing them through the swing tags with photos.
Team

Founding Story

I have always dreamt about making a significant impact. As I feel bad about homeless people I decided to create an ethical fashion brand that would employ them and help to reconnect with the society. However while looking for the team I have met Kate in a collaborative area where we were both working in. She have worked with the community in Cambodia since 2012 and she just wanted to build from scratch the brand. Cambodia brought to my mind my role models Adam Braun from Pencils of Promise and Scott Neeson from Cambodian Children's Fun so I fell in love with the idea of collaboration and since then we have worked together as co-founders to launch in 2015.

Team

Our team is very experienced and consists of people who have worked for the biggest brands Co-founders: - Oscar is a student of Mechanical Engineering with Business Finance on University College London who is extremely passionate about social enterprises and improving the society through business. He is also working part-time in the luxury retail and is building the website for the project. - Heng is a talented Cambodian MBA graduate from Pennsylvania State University who has won many awards, competitions and scholarships - Kate is Mandarin Chinese speaking professional experienced in the area of ethical sourcing in Asia for the big brands including for example Burberry. Also Consultant to The World Bank on Bangladesh garment sector Women's Empowerment projects - Jasmine lives in the Cambodian community and has been designing and producing clothes and small goods for years with other women. Designer: - Timothy has been one of the designers in the team of Dior and Gucci currently working on his company selling perfumes. In 2010 he helped to co-found the United Nations Platform on Biodiversity in the Fashion and Cosmetics Industries and he is very passionate about the sustainable luxury. - Jasmine Board of Advisors: - Motthida has been sustainability consultant for Nike working in Cambodia.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Manufacturing.

Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]

Consumer, Retail Representative - Department Store.

Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Designers, Factory Workers, Factory Owners, Women, Youth.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Access to Essential Services (i.e. Healthcare and Education), Access to Social Protection Services (i.e. Insurance, Pension, etc.), Conscious Consumerism, Environmentally Sustainable Practices, Labor Rights (i.e. Collective Bargaining, etc.), Gender Equality, Anti-forced Labor or Anti-Human Trafficking, Physical Working Conditions, Transparency.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Enforcement, Policy, Standards.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

A Job is Not Enough: Low-Income Workers Cannot Secure Long-Term Well-Being, Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Unite More than Voice: Tap into Community Capital and Collective Resources.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?

yes

If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

Yes. I ditch small-talk and always encourage to dream big and have the courage to follow them.

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

I have worked with Kate, who has a big network of twitter followers and very influential people in the fashion industry.