Suaveco

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

London, United KingdomPhnom Penh, Cambodia
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 Pensils 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 raise 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 the 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.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

My co-founder has sent the website to me

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

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, Gender Equality, 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.

I have tried to set up a charity led by students that would build schools in developing countries (as you can see, I am really into education) but then I was accepted to University College London and my teammates did not want to work on the project without me. After I came to London I have taken part in London Entrepreneurs' Challenge where I have learnt a lot about entrepreneurship, setting up a company and I have pitched my idea for the student led charity but I couldn't find any co-founders worth-considering. Over the last summer I have also came up with the idea for the new mean of urban transport that would use the area above the streets and pavements in order to get rid of the traffic jams that cost billions of dollars. I have built a website (railwings.com), applied to some competitions and have tried to build a team of the best people to make project going.

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

I work in a luxury retail as a sales associate with a team of very experienced people from fashion industry so I develop there the skills and knowledge about the customers' buying patterns, preferences and behaviours. Additionally, I have met in London people such as Kelsey Ramsden who has been named the best female entrepreneur in Canada and Rupert Scofield, a veteran of micro-credits. They both have given me a lot of feedback. I have also talked about the project with a friend of mine who is a businessman and a news reader in the major radio station in the United Kingdom that millions of people listen to.

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