5 Top Sustainable Entrepreneurs
They say that each of us alone can make a difference but, together, we make change Sublime introduces five pioneers whose responsible business models are sparking hope for a better world.
This year marks MacLeod’s first full decade at Vegware Products Inc, the global specialist in plant-based, compostable foodservice packaging. From student intern to Sales Director, helping the company grow into the global brand it is today has been an extremely rewarding experience. ‘Since 2012 I have been helping catering companies, restaurant chains and the hospitality industry with packaging options and waste management solutions throughout the UK, UAE and, most recently, the USA. I moved to Southern California four and a half years ago to set up the US office for Vegware,’ MacLeod says.
Now, Vegware is a team of close to 100 people around the world, each person passionate about reducing single-use plastic and diverting waste from landfill. Vegware is made from plants using renewable, lower carbon, recycled, or reclaimed materials, and designed to be commercially compostable with food waste where possible. Compostables are a practical solution for single-use food-contaminated disposables, allowing foodservice to achieve their sustainability goals. Working closely with world’s largest contract caterers and distributors, Vegware is sold in 70 countries, with distribution throughout Europe, the Middle East, South America, and the Caribbean, and operational bases in the UK, USA, Hong Kong and Australia.
In her free time, MacLeod participates in beach clean-ups and assists the local leadership and sustainability academy run by the city council.
Upon identifying a gap in a market that was under-considered and let down for too long, Ricky Knight set up Randies, a luxury underwear brand hailing from London that is changing the face of men’s underwear.
A fast-paced 2020 was spent meeting technical designers, planet-friendly material suppliers, and innovative manufacturers. Alongside industry experts, Knight masterminded the TackleBag™, which lifts, supports, and provides superior comfort. When it comes to fabric, he opted for the natural and regenerative fabric Lenzing Tencel, made using self-sufficient Austrian beech trees in a pulp-to-fibre process. The branches of this fast-growing tree are harvested in sustainably-managed forests and offer a natural and renewable source of raw material.
Production takes place in Portugal, in a traditional fabrica run by a family of talented artisans who lovingly craft every pair of Randies by hand. The packaging, like everything at Randies, doesn’t cost the earth, made from FSC-certified recycled and recyclable materials. Plus, the brand is a proud member of 1% for the Planet, supporting environmental solutions and uniting with other conscious companies that are committed to a greener future.
The result? A product designed using innovative methods in manufacturing and material, with the consumer’s everyday needs and the impact on the planet at the forefront of all decision-making. Super soft, supportive, and naturally breathable underwear that will seamlessly support you throughout the day, whatever the activity.
It’s no surprise that Knight has executed his products with such finesse; with a successful marketing agency focusing on brand experience and customer engagement, he knows what it takes to bring a product to market and make it a roaring success.
In order to have a long-lasting impact, we need millions of people doing sustainability imperfectly, rather than a few doing it perfectly. With this in mind, Maxim Gelmann – better known as Mr Stroodles – founded Stroodles Eco Tableware in 2018.
The portfolio ranges from pasta straws and edible biscuit spoons to stirrers and plates, with countless new products in the pipeline. Through Stroodles’ distinctive tone of voice, brand mission, and values, Gelmann found a way to cut through the doom-and-gloom and change the image of sustainability, breaking the perception that while everyone is aware of the problem, people feel actionless as they feel sustainability means compromise. Thus, with Stroodles, he is on a mission to use the language of humour to show them that sustainability can be not only fun, but actionable.
The brand’s mascot, Mr Stroodles, is the stamp of approval and a symbol for celebrating all sustainable changes, no matter how small. Going forward, Gelmann is keen to reach beyond tableware to all kinds of verticals, from fashion to furniture, and to see the brand used across the public and private sector, within events, media, and more.
Alongside getting the world ‘stroodling’ with their products, the company also actively supports the work of Clean Ocean Sailing and engages in various educational activities around sustainability for childrens, including the recent launch of a dedicated scout badge.
Venezuelan-born designer, creative director, and brand strategist with over 25 years of experience across luxury fashion, fine jewellery, clean beauty, and design, Mauro Durant grew up between the exotic landscapes of the Caribbean and a forward-thinking, open-minded London.
His love for the environment and all things natural started early in his childhood, spending weekends learning from his grandmother about growing and nurturing plants as opposed to flocking to the latest plastic toy. By the time he was a teenager, he would spend his holidays at the beach picking up plastic bottles and cigarette butts. Not long after, the young entrepreneur co-founded fashion brand Durant & Diego in Caracas, working with natural textiles, supporting skilful artisans and craftsmanship, and exporting collections through key partnerships with Barneys New York, LA, and Japan, and the Maria Luisa boutique in Paris.
Always curious and an avid learner, Durant relocated to Paris in early 2000, to further his design studies with a master’s degree at the French Institute of Fashion, followed by working with prestigious luxury brands. In 2006, moved to London as associate creative director of Couturelab, a laboratory of ideas and online platform to support global creative talents and craftsmanship.
Since 2011, he has been a Managing Director and Key Strategist for the development of Dr Jackson’s, the award-winning, plant-powered clean beauty and wellness brand, and was appointed its Creative Director in 2012. Motivated by philanthropy, he also mentors and collaborates with a new generation of creative talents, supporting charities and initiatives focused on human rights, sustainability, and education.
Today, Durant is a global visionary who works closely with environmentally-conscious brands and start-ups in product development and on building their image, all this always with the long-term vision on brand positioning, developing online and real time strategies to make these brands meaningful and relevant for green consumers’ demand.
A visionary who has built her career developing the iconic collections for numerous international brands – including Dior, De Beers, Burberry and Astley Clarke – Lorna has gathered a wealth of insight and expertise across the fashion industry over 25 years. Having witnessed the phenomenal environmental and ethical impact the industry has been grappling with, she was driven to create a company that inspires a new way of thinking, a new way of connecting people, and a more responsible way to do business.
An early adopter to a conscious lifestyle, Lorna’s mission has been to make a significant step-change within the industry and the lives of the people she is working with, ‘making much less, making it better and making it more meaningfully’.
STELAR is an accessories brand that reflects a new generation of social entrepreneurs, driven to re-define the concept of luxury while balancing people, purpose, and profit. Born in Bali and founded on the principles of craftsmanship, community, transparency, and regeneration, the brand has been immersed in learning about a wealth of historical craft techniques among the challenges that Balinese communities are facing.
The onset of mass production and demands for cheaper labour within the fast fashion industry has forced many artisans to leave their communities in search of unskilled jobs, at considerable social cost. STELAR is passionate about reviving age-old craftsmanship, re-building communities and championing a change for good.
Working in collaboration with artisan communities to re-imagine ancient weaving techniques, STELAR creates exceptional hand-woven bags and accessories using locally-sourced raw materials, designed and made to last. ‘Traceability is at the heart of everything we do, while reimagining the relationships between consumer and product, craftsmanship and culture, community and the environment,’ Watson explains. Every hand-crafted item comes with a unique digital code, connecting the owner to the origins of their bag and the artisan who created it. STELAR brings real value to the people and skills behind each item, not only of the item itself.