mela wear GmbH

mela wear GmbH: mela wear closes the loop for cotton textiles.

Lüneburg, GermanyIndia
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

mela wear aims to enlarge the market for sustainable fashion by providing garments at a competitive price, design and availability to conventional garments for the mass market. Since the beginning all products have been certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard and Fairtrade International.

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

What if textile industry could contribute towards a sustainable development instead of being harmful to nature and humans?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The global textile industry is one driver of the world’s inequality leading to unequal social and environmental conditions. Cotton textile production are one of the world’s largest sources of pollution by pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals: even though cotton only covers 2.4% of the worlds agricultural land 11% of worldwide toxic pesticides and 25% of insecticides are used for cotton cultivation.

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

The vision of mela wear is to step ahead by taking a more holistic approach to quality in the cotton textile supply chain. mela wear wants to create a closed loop for cotton textiles by making textiles fully biodegradable and recyclable. Inspired by the concepts of Circular Economy and cradle to cradle mela wear wants to add aspects of material reutilization, renewable energy and water quality to its supply chain. The reutilization of cotton textiles after use will safe resources such as land, energy, water, transportation and money; resources that are needed in a world with a growing population. mela wear garments will not have an end of life period but rather be used as ingredients for new garments or as organic fertilizer for nature.

Awards

Semi-Finalist (Final still pending) European Social Innovation Competition (European Commission), Selection for the Bundespreis Ecodesign (Federal Ministry for the Environment), Scholarship Hans Weisser-Stipendium (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes e.V
Impact: How does it Work

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

1. What mela wear does regarding the environmental impact: • production under highest environmental industry standards thanks GOTS certification • reduction or ideally elimination of the amount of pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals being used in cotton and textile production 2. What mela wear does regarding the social impact: • ensuring higher payments, share of revenues and work safety for Indian farmers and tailors due to a fairtrade and organic textile supply chain • providing active financial support for farmers, ginners, knitters, dyers and tailors in their supply chain by working with Fairtrade and GOTS certified partners only • jobs created in Europe within the social entity of HiPsy for people in need

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

mela wear is presently listed in more than 40 retail shops in eight European countries: Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Sweden, Poland and Germany. Approximately 2,000 European citizens are already wearing mela wear garments are counted as customers. More than 3,000 garments have been sold in only five month of sales operation with a current turnover in 2015 of 35,000€. More than 5,000 garments have been produced already under the label mela wear and 10,000 pieces are currently in the production line. Beside the founders, mela wear is currently employing four interns and two students on an hourly basis. mela wear has set up a distribution and warehousing system with a local social entity called HiPsy gGmbH employing psychologically disabled people. Two people at HiPsy are currently working for mela wear.

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

mela wear is currently producing at two factories. In both factories mela wear is occupying less than 5% of the factories capacities. Additionally, mela wear has already visited and selected additional factories for scaling up its business model once demand takes off. With the combined capacity of all four factories mela wear’s supply chain is able to produce 12,000 pieces per day right away if necessary. The design, price and quality of the garments from mela can compete with mainstream mass market already and strategic alliances with fashion chain stores could scale its business model.
Sustainability

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

mela wear’s business model is down to earth with products in place: garments with a fixed purchase and sales price can finance mela wear’s employees, production partners abroad and the purchase of new garments.To foster the sustainability approach in order to go beyond existing social and ecologic industry standards by working towards the even more innovative concepts of a closed loop, mela wear is financially still dependent on outside support.

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

Various companies in Europe are working with a sustainable cotton textile business model. Some do so while working under either Fairtrade or GOTS and few two have launched a C2C collection so far. Yet there is no company producing textiles according to Fairtrade, GOTS and the C2C standard at the same time. mela wear therefore aims to combine all three standards to become Europe’s first company working in a closed loop by taking into consideration the social, ecological and economic per-­‐ spectives within the entire supply chain.
Team

Founding Story

After meeting Indian textile companies working on sustainable clothing solutions within their country the idea of mela wear was born. "mela" is a Hindi word and stands for "acting together". Being impressed by the power and will of Indian partner to solve social and environmental issues within their country the team of meal wear decided to step in by working closely with Indian producers. By keeping the entire supply chain within one country the positive impact for mela wear's partner in the supply chain are high while environmental problems can be reduced. Close relationships and frequent visits of mela wear's partner is core of its company policy.

Team

Claudia Assmuth, full-time (CEO & Co-Founder): 5 years of work experience in the fields of export, product management, international customer handling, ERP System implementation and supply-chain management. Henning Siedentopp, full-time (CEO & Co-Founder): 9 years of work experience in the fields of sustainability management, sales, business development, project management, contact and network development Dr. Georg Langenberg, part-time (Co-Founder): 13 years of work experience in the fields of financial auditing, process optimization, business development, project finance and controlling ==> with growth full-time Nica Müller, part-time employee: tailor, fashion expert, environmental science student ==> with growth full-time employee Jacqueline Oeschger, part-time (Intern): fundraising, cradle to cradle expert, liberal arts student ==> with growth part-time employee Julio Guevara, part-time (intern): e-commerce specialist, digital media student Frederik Peters, part-time (intern): sales and customer handling expert, business student
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

website of change makers

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

CEO & co-Founder

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Co-founder shareify, Germany/ www.shareify.de
Together with a team of young professionals we created shareify as a collaborative consumption online community. Shareify connects people that want to share their WiFi Internet with neighbors.

Sales No Nasties, India/ http://www.nonasties.in
Promoting and selling 100% fair trade and organic shirts from no nasties (First indian fairtrade and organic fashion brand) within the European market.

Volunteer VHS Bhaktapur, Nepal / http://www.vhsbhaktapur.org
The VHS Bhaktapur is a community learning center based in the city of Bhaktapur in Nepal with the aim to provide practical oriented education to reduce unemployment and enhance entrepreneurship in Nepal. During my time at VHS I was helping to develop the new VHS product portfolio, the installation of a computer room as well as providing the contacts for a solar panel installations founding.

Project lead "Wir spenden Licht" - Donation Campaign for Liter of Light Europe
http://literoflight.org / http://www.literoflightswitzerland.org/index.php

Advisor at Social Change Hub (SCHub) Leuphana University Lüneburg

Board Member "Lokalität - Raum für Ideen e.V."
Lokalität e.V. is a co-working space for entrepreneurs run as a non-profit association at Leuphana University's Campus in Lüneburg, Germany.

Volunteer at the Global Social Business Summit 2012 in Vienna / The Grameen Creative Lab

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

Advisors:
Dipl.-Kfm. Carsten Wille / carsten.wille@inkubator.leuphana.de / Entrepreneurship Hub Leuphana University Lüneburg
Dr. Mark Euler / mark.euler@inkubator.leuphana.de / Entrepreneurship Hub Leuphana University Lüneburg
Dr. Stephan Jung / Stephan.Jung@fh-krems.ac.at / Professor Department Business FH Krems

Fairtrade:
Caroline Zamor/ c.zamor@fairtrade-deutschland.de / Cotton Standard

Global Organic Textile Standard:
Claudia Kersten/ kersten@global-standard.org / Head of Marketing

Cradle to Cradle:
Tim Jannßen / tim.janssen@c2c-ev.de / CEO

Academics:
Leuphana University, Prof. Dr. Stefan Schaltegger / stefan.schaltegger@leuphana.de / Head of Centre for sustainability management
Academy for Fashion and Design, Prof. Michael Weies / michael.weies@amdnet.de / Head of Visual & Corporate Communication at AMD Hamburg
University for Applied Science, Prof. Patrick Kugler / patrick.kugler@haw-hamburg.de / Professor for Fashion, Textiles and Supply Chain Management

References
Reference customers:
Marlowe Nature, Germany
Pall Center, Luxembourg
Naturhaus Lehnwieser, Austria
Plan Planeta, Poland