Sheri Turnbow, founder of Bespoke Southerly, sews clothes from personal sketches and protects the environment. Let’s get to know how she does it, thanks to Forbes’ review.
Climate change and the cleaning of the world’s oceans from debris, including plastics, were one of the hottest topics in the United States ahead of the presidential primaries. Plastic straws, for example, have provoked such a heated debate that some states are already obliging restaurants to use straws made from other materials. What about the fashion industry? Does the buyer think about what happens to seasonal novelties, if in the end no one has bought them?
The fashion industry is the third most polluted industry, according to waste management and recycling firm Rubicon, and microfibers tend to end up in the ocean and pose a serious threat to marine life. According to a 2016 report from consulting firm McKinsey, 60% of all clothing ends up in an incinerator or landfill within the first year after being made.
Sheri Turnbow, founder of Bespoke Southerly, has set out to dramatically reduce fashion waste. The brand allows women to buy clothes from personal sketches so that colors and details reflect their individuality. The business model of the company is based on a personalized approach to the creation of clothes and the concept of making things to order. Due to the many different options for ordering, the quality of the produced garments will be higher and the amount of production waste will be less.
Initially, the entrepreneur looked closely at the custom-made model, because it allows her to easily complement dresses with pockets, make clothes of any color and from any fabric. However, as the features of this approach were identified, something else became clear: this way you can avoid a large amount of waste, because in the case of orders, each part is cut out only once. “If we talk about fashion, now there is a clear trend on the market in relation to the rationality of production. Such changes are essential, as the fashion industry is one of the most serious sources of pollution on the planet. The production of textiles in our area requires a huge amount of natural resources, such as, for example, cotton and other raw materials. Textile processing also requires significant investment and can use toxic chemicals and dyes, ”Turnbow explains. – Hence the question of the use of resources and pollution of nature. In addition, of course, there is also an ethical aspect, which is that in factories in other countries the proper working conditions are not always observed, and the wages are not enough for a decent life. I believe that all of this has the most direct relation to the sustainability and ethics of fashion. “
Prior to founding her own business, Turnbow was already working in the fashion industry. After moving to Washington, she became very interested in non-profit organizations. “I worked for two years in an organization involved in a variety of projects, including the fight against HIV / AIDS, providing children in Africa with clean drinking water and several other initiatives,” says the founder of the brand. The fight against HIV / AIDS was especially close to me, because I worked in the fashion industry. A couple of decades ago, this was a serious problem in society. So, I did it, and I really enjoyed working in charity. But my main passion has become wildlife conservation.” Subsequently, the woman switched to two of the world’s largest conservation organizations, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Both structures have partnerships with corporations such as Apple, Coca-Cola, Disney and Royal Caribbean Cruises. These partnerships have leveraged millions of dollars to conserve nature and develop innovative business strategies that are sustainable and responsive to sustainable development.
Turnbow started thinking about starting her own company when she realized that she needed classic evening wear to attend charity events. She admits: “Finding the right outfit has always been difficult for me. I remember how in my youth I already had an idea about clothes for the future: there should be a little of it in the closet, but it is of high quality and style for all times. You can wear it for many seasons. And then I thought about how easy it is to tailor custom-made clothes for men, especially business suits. For women, there is nothing quite like that, except for the dresses for the bridesmaids for the wedding. And I started making inquiries. “
Turnbow took on a new business, taking into account the knowledge she gained during her early stages of her fashion and retail careers, as well as her more recent corporate and sustainable business experience. The woman has created a brand and a company with all that she has learned over the years in both areas. “I also launched an online store, and special programming skills were required to accept individual orders,” the head of the company explains with a smile. I financed everything myself and, as happens with many entrepreneurs, I faced certain difficulties along the way. The fact is that I wasted a lot of time and money on a poorly selected team. Nevertheless, thanks to the acquaintances that I made in the process, I was able to reach more qualified and knowledgeable professionals. Our final product was made possible in large part because I was able to assemble a new team of experts.”
For aspiring entrepreneurs, Turnbow gives the following tips:
– Do not hurry. If you move from one area to another too quickly, not really understanding what you want to do, you risk failing.
– Make inquiries carefully. Understand how the new industry functions, figure out what kind of people you will need to interact with, and when is the best time to change your field.
– Accept one crucial thing: sometimes it will seem that you made a mistake, and sometimes you will consider yourself a genius. Continue no matter what.
The entrepreneur concludes: “I came out of several other circles. I have always been in business, and I do not have the usual education related to the world of fashion. I believe that it is precise because I have not studied this and have always been more of a business person because of this, I approach doing business a little differently. Even though it is often more difficult for me and an ordinary designer certainly understands all this better, sometimes I find very original solutions.”You may read about global brands that became sustainable here.