This month, Purple Mango's co-founder Renata Reis shared with The Green Hub Online her experiences in founding an ethical and sustainable fashion label in an interview. Check it out:
(Words by The Green Hub Online)
"Uniting style, ethics and sustainability, Renata Reis, founder of Purple Mango Eco Fashion is on an unstoppable mission of finding unique fashion that translates the perfect balance between ethics and aesthetics.
She wants to educate consumers around the possibilities of making more responsible buying choices and start conversations about the stories behind their products.
As fashion curators, Purple Mango haven’t designed a collection (yet!) themselves but what they have done, is bring some of the most unique and innovative sustainable jewellery to Australia all the way from Brazil.
Their first range, a jewellery line made with upcycled plastic bottles, faced a concept barrier when launched five years ago. The jewellery was featured in the Sao Paulo Fashion Week but was met with some confusion when launched in Australia. “People not having a clue what we were talking about when we mentioned ethical and sustainable fashion!” says Renata.
Five years on, Purple Mango has grown to represent leading ethical and sustainable fashion designers and artisans from South America and house a collection of beautifully made handbags, jewellery and homewares inspired by Brazilian culture.
TGH (The Green Hub): Tell us about your business journey so far.
RR (Renata Reis): It is has been a challenging but fun journey so far! Entrepreneurship is definitely not an easy journey, but being extremely passionate, energetic and positive has helped me a lot throughout those years. One of the bits I love is the researching process for new collections. Also, definitely one of my favourite parts of the business is the relationships we create with the designers and people behind the projects we represent.
What made you want to create an ethical business?
Ethics and sustainability matters have always populated our minds and ways of life. When we decided to begin curating tropical fashion products from our home country we realised that there were incredible projects that were uniting all 3 things we loved: style, sustainability and ethics. So we realised that we would be able to unite our passion and our beliefs. It was a special moment! It has been an incredible journey researching for the beautiful projects that we support. Knowing that we don’t have to compromise on style and we can be fair and respectful with the world, the environment and the society is a very fulfilling and enjoyable experience.
TGH: What made you want to create an ethical business?
RR: Ethics and sustainability matters have always populated our minds and ways of life. When we decided to begin curating tropical fashion products from our home country we realised that there were incredible projects that were uniting all 3 things we loved: style, sustainability and ethics. So we realised that we would be able to unite our passion and our beliefs. It was a special moment! It has been an incredible journey researching for the beautiful projects that we support. Knowing that we don’t have to compromise on style and we can be fair and respectful with the world, the environment and the society is a very fulfilling and enjoyable experience.
TGH: What do you think separates Purple Mango from everything else out there?
First of all, I would say the look and style of our products. We have a remarkable and unique signature, that is generally very tropical, feminine, unusual, bold and pretty. And added to this, of equal value is the power and depth of the stories behind each of our products. We are so proud of all of them, and it is a really enjoyable experience to share that with our audience! I actually love that fashion can be a point of start for a conversation, and that your style can actually be an expression of your beliefs of a better planet and a more fair society.
RR: What is your favourite product from the range?
Oh no, can I only choose one?!? lol… I can’t decide if i pick the Jewellery made from organic rubber from the Amazon forest (which is incredibly gorgeous and so intriguing too!) or our sustainable handloom bags that use recycled VHS tape. I love both ranges so much for the incredible stories behind them! They are not only ticking environmental aspects, but both are part of a social initiative empowering citizens through fashion. I love those projects with all my heart!
TGH: What does the future hold for Purple Mango?
RR: We are always looking for new projects and designers to add to our portfolio. That is actually one of the nicest part of the job. We are also looking into start signing an exclusive collection with one of the designers we work, and bringing a new product range. On the long term, we have our plans to start designing our own ranges – without leaving our partnerships with the projects that we work. We are also expanding into new product lines. Initially we only had jewellery, and the demand for sustainable designs is so great that we have expanded. We now have bags, homeware and soon coming shoes!
TGH: What does a typical day look like for you?
RR: It does vary a lot. As we are mostly an online business, there is lots of digital activity going on. From social media adventures to digging and working on the website. It is actually so interesting the level of connections we can via digital platforms. Another typical scene at a work day is preparations for events and markets. We are doing it on a regular basis, and it is very rewarding interacting to customers face-to-face.
TGH: Your 5 tips for starting a sustainable business
First of all, research, research and research. There is always alternatives in the daily activities of running a business that can be re-thought and new solutions that are sustainable can be found.
Don’t be scared of doing it for fear of being complicated. Most of businesses, and people in general are obviously not ready to commit to sustainability. But I suppose a lot of people could at least try to implement smaller and achievable measures to reduce our impact on earth. I get surprised how many businesses struggle to put in place simple actions such as recycling in the office.
Exchange experiences and network. Ask around, chat with other people that did it. There is so much information online, so many channels for communication. Get inspired, get connected, as the world is going sustainable!!!
Get informed. Education is the basis of everything, and there is plenty of information out there. When digging through information, things will make more sense, and you will have real purposes on why to go sustainable. It can actually be a fun journey!
Most businesses have the potential of being sustainable. Stick to what you love and to your passion, and bring sustainability to it.
TGH: Your best tip for living a more sustainable life
RR: Pause and reflect before you go on with our daily habits. There is always silly little things that you can adapt in your everyday life. I understand that most of people are not ready to fully embark on a sustainable lifestyle transformation – and that is totally understandable! But if we could all at least have a bit of sustainable awareness, and try to implement small actions and changes to everyday habits, that is a big transformation on its own. I would say that education goes side-by-side with this too. People won’t make adjustments to their living if they don’t actually understand why doing it. In addition, probably educating the future generations is an awesome investment towards sustainability! (i have started this myself with my two little boys – my 4 year old is always attempting to sort out the bins and put things to recycling, and usually asks if a juice is organic before he drink it lol).
TGH: Finish this sentence. The world needs more…
RR: Respect. I’m such a hippie in my heart that I was very tempted to answer ‘love’. But I understand that not everyone is ready to openly spread love around, and respect truly feels to me as an achievable, necessary and implementable thing that the world desperately needs! And I mean respect in every possible version; not only to respect one another, but also to respect our own selves, the nature, the natural flow of the world, and on it goes.