Ecopreneurs 2023

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The green economy is ever-growing, and Sublime shines the spotlight on this month’s top sustainable entrepreneurs, spanning fashion to superfoods.

Alex Elliot

In the summer of 2018, Alex Elliot took off for Hong Kong. She had three or four months of freedom ahead – time to rest, restore and rediscover herself – and though she’d booked a return flight, the in-between was as yet unwritten. As it turned out, it was a pivotal point in her career.

Elliot had been working for Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, designing knitwear. ‘At that time, I’d been designing for about 15 years, working for both high-end and high street brands. Burberry, Fred Perry, Wolsey, DKNY – I had had the opportunity to learn from some of the best, and travel the world as I did it,’ she says. But over the years, she had become disenchanted with some of the working practices, becoming increasingly environmentally conscious herself. Designing volume styles in the cheapest yarns, destined for landfill after a short and ignominious life, was the final straw.

‘I needed to do something I could feel good about again, and October 2019 saw the launch of elliot. organics, a range of organic cotton underwear designed with comfort and simplicity in mind,’ Elliot says. The brand’s first range included just five styles, three of which are still bestsellers today. They’ve since expanded to include nightwear and loungewear, but its founder’s goal is still the same: to create beautiful, timeless pieces that are made to last, that are kind to your skin and to the planet.

All elliot. organics fabrics are sourced from GOTS-certified manufacturers in Europe, and they only work with small, accredited garment factories in Spain and the UK, ensuring fair pay and good working conditions. At the core of it all is Elliot’s deep love and respect for the natural world and her goal to promote environmental awareness.

Chris Griffin 

This entrepreneur is on a mission to bring the undiscovered secrets of the Andes to European kitchens. While trying to reduce his sugar intake, he discovered the remarkable yacon plant during a visit to his family in Peru. Known as the ‘Peruvian ground apple’, it yields a deliciously sweet syrup that doesn’t spike blood sugar levels.

Yacon’s remarkable benefits come its FOS fibres that taste sweet on the tongue, yet pass through the body undigested. The result is a natural alternative to sugar, honey or maple syrup that is great for stabilising energy levels and nourishing the gut microbiome. It makes for a great swap for anybody following a vegan, low sugar or keto diet, or anybody looking for a healthy addition to their kitchen cupboard.

Spotting a gap in the market for this underappreciated gift of nature, Chris launched YaconViva! to bring Peruvian produce like yacon to ethically-minded European consumers. Starting the company while maintaining a day job in tech, he made it his goal to maintain close links with the farmers and processors in Peru, ensuring they are adequately supported and fairly compensated. He maintains regular contact and last visited the plantations in 2022 to witness the breaking of the ground for a new harvest in the Andean Huanuco province.

Now committed full-time to his venture, Chris’s focus is on achieving organic standards throughout the YaconViva! supply chain. The next goal will be to reduce – and eventually eliminate – plastic in packaging and shipping. Despite the challenges around cost of living, sustainability continues to be a priority for the discerning modern consumer and YaconViva! is responding to this with the seriousness it deserves.

Monica Chandak

In her 13 years of developing cosmetics, the founder of genderless beauty brand INCLUSEV has created over 600 cosmetic formulations and most of them contained water. Monica was determined to design a product that would contain less or even no water – it took over three years of experimenting and over 150 trials to finally come up with the revolutionary, balanced formula which incorporates the finest, most effective ingredients in a unique powder form that is safe, sustainable and made for everyone, eliminating barriers and building inclusivity.

All INCLUSEV products are formulated, produced and packed in the UK, and each component has its own story to tell. Transparency is at the heart of all operations, products powered by only what you need and nothing more – INCLUSEV is always free from water, fillers, sulphates and phthalates, synthetic colours and fragrances, parabens and animal-derived or tested ingredients.

Ayesha Mustafa

Ayesha Mustafa is a social entrepreneur, mentor and advocate for women’s empowerment. Prior to launching London-based womenwear brand Everyday Phenomenal, Mustafa ran Fashion ComPassion, a socially responsible retailer – fashion and social development have always been her biggest passions, and she her work expands to NGOS and organisations like Grameen Bank, striving towards improving literacy, community empowerment and development.

Mustafa’s work with Fashion ComPassion has been highly commended in a plethora of international publications – within a few years of launching the company, she is now considered to be a thought leader on ethical fashion, named among BBC’s #100Women for 2014 and regularly working as a consultant to ethical brands.

Her latest venture, Everyday Phenomenal, is on a mission to make women feel phenomenal inside and out. They’re the first eco-friendly clothing brand that’s shifting the focus from how you look, to how you feel, with each essential product linking back to their online mindfulness platform, The Circle of Feeling Good. Stylish and comfortable, the collection is created in the UK by talented seamstresses and – as expected from Ayesha Mustafa – champions women’s empowerment.

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