Eight Sustainable Entrepreneurs

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Paolo Ferrari

Designer Paolo Ferrari was born and grew up in the Brianza district north of Milan, an area famous for furnishing brands Cassina, B&B and Poliform. He studied Industrial Design at Politecnico di Milano.

Paolo has followed his passion for design and fashion by launching 959®, a brand focusing on homewares, bags and wallets using recycled and sustainable materials.

Ferrari’s main aim is to offer the market recycled products with a high standard of finish and aesthetic – all made in Italy – to meet the demands of quality-conscious customers.

The first 959® collections featured the reuse of car seat belts. Now Ferrari’s goal is to include other sustainable materials in his collections such as Jacroki, a sustainable fabric composed of cellulose and a small amount of latex, and Lifenappa, a solvent-free, water-treated synthetic leather.

Ferrari’s research into sustainable materials is ongoing. His creative philosophy merges design, functionality and aesthetics in line with contemporary taste and the needs of modern living, together with concern for the environment.


e nepra foundersNépra

Anna-Mari Niutanen and Essi Enqvist

Starting Népra meant that Anna-Mari Niutanen, the brand’s creator, and Essi Enqvist, product developer, could give free reign to their passion for responsibly manufactured, quality activewear and holistic well-being.  

Both Anna-Mari and Essi studied at Finland’s Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Anna-Mari International Trade and Essi, Textile and Clothing Engineering.

Given the huge impact the textile and clothing industry has on the planet, the best thing we could do, ecologically speaking, would be to go naked. Given the complexities inherent in that solution, the second-best option is to wear our clothing for as long as possible. Approximately two-thirds of the environmental impact from clothing comes from day-to-day use after its initial manufacture – which accounts for the other third.

The key is to make clothes that last and last. The brand concentrates on creating a perfect fit for its clothes, and an amazing feel on the skin.

Népra has a quite unique holistic approach to business. Environmental and corporate responsibility, supporting the local community and transparency in business are valued above all else at Népra.

The designs are created in Finland, and have a touch of Nordic minimalism. The items are produced in neighbouring Estonia, using carefully selected fabrics from Italy. So manufacturing happens within Europe, not too far from customers, which again lessens the environmental impact sustained by shipping materials and products.

As Népra’s founders would say, although wearing Népra feels good, the values behind the brand make you feel good too.



e NeilPalmerBWVintage Roots

Neil Palmer

Neil Palmer’s journey began back in 1986, thanks to one of the government’s more enlightened initiatives, the Enterprise Allowance Scheme, which gave budding entrepreneurs the princely sum of £40 a week for a year (equivalent to the state benefit of the time) to launch a new business. Over three decades later, co-founders Neil Palmer and Lance Pigott continue to fly the flag for high-quality organic, biodynamic, natural and ethically produced wines from around the world, not to mention quirkier offerings, such as Seaweed Gin.

As the only UK company to import and retail exclusively organic wines and other drinks, Vintage Roots’ entire business model is built around environmental concerns, which was their main reason for starting the company.

Their eco-friendly focus has also seen Vintage Roots develop own-brand wines such as Wild Thing, making a donation to conservation charity The Born Free Foundation for every bottle sold.

As well as celebrating the sustainability efforts of its producers, Vintage Roots sets strict standards for its own business. Since 2005 the office has been powered by 100% renewable energy, and in 2006 the company became the first in the UK to offset the carbon footprint of all its wine and beer imports. Two years ago they introduced a ‘Vine to Lips’ logo, designed to communicate the carbon commitment of the firm that sets the standard for green retail.



e OneSavvyMotherOne Savvy Mother

Lara Crawford

As a third-generation retailer, entrepreneur Lara Crawford has a long family history in the business. You could say it’s in her blood. Her brand of stylish fashion accessories and jewellery, One Savvy Mother, stitches together contemporary design with new sustainability standards. With a critical eye for a hip, professional look, Crawford fills the shelves with fashion designers and entrepreneurs equally as committed to sustainability as she is.

For the online consumer, One Savvy Mother offers a curated shopping site that boasts an original collection of carefully chosen, or, as Crawford calls it, ‘eco-inspired’ collection perfectly suited to those who are ready to take a stand for environmental integrity. The brand delivers a selection of bespoke pieces crafted from organic textiles, upcycled and post-consumer materials as well as traditional cork and other vegan alternatives.

Crawford believes in operating sustainably and is transparent about vetting her vendors and posting on every product page. For those style-conscious consumers concerned with how fashion choices affect climate change, Crawford is an entrepreneur with an eye on Mother Earth.



e lofranco brothersFattoria La Vialla

Gianni, Antonio and Bandino Lo Franco

Multi-award-winning Italian brand Fattoria La Vialla is one of the few enterprises that uses a closed-cycle production system for a wide variety of products (wine, olive oil, cheese, sauces, pasta, biscuits, honey, vinegar), all with total traceability. The products are manufactured through a value chain within the enterprise itself – from seed to harvest, from husbandry to processing and packaging, from direct customer contact to shipping.

‘Our company shows that it is worthwhile – from all points of view – to begin projects on the basis of personal conviction rather than financial profit,’ the three founding brothers assert.

In 1983 the enterprise was certified organic, and since 2002, cultivation has been carried out using biodynamic methods. In 2005, Fattoria products began to be labelled with Demeter certification. Since 2008, all Fattoria’s emissions have been documented in a CO2 balance report, and in the last three years alone, over 9996.34 tonnes of CO2 emissions have been avoided.

In 2014, Fattoria La Vialla proudly began to call itself a ‘climate-neutral company’.

The Lo Franco brothers don’t just work on optimising their own activities; they also try to encourage others to adopt an environmentally friendly mentality. The Lo Franco Family Foundation, founded in 2009, provides funding and resources to promote and spread the use of biodynamic agriculture. As of today, the Foundation has converted 590 hectares of land – its own, recently acquired or leased – to biodynamics, and has convinced another 88 farms to move to ‘bio’ agriculture.

Thanks to a coordinated system for the implementation of organic-biodynamic agriculture, production, processing and sales, Fattoria La Vialla has enjoyed continuous sustainable growth, enabling the brothers to lead the field, making them role models in the organic sector.



e Niall MansfieldGreen Books

Niall Mansfield

Niall Mansfield set up UIT Cambridge in 1993 as an internet security business, which morphed into a publisher of books with the tagline ‘without the hot air’ – titles such as Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air by David MacKay, or Drugs Without the Hot Air by David Nutt. They have each in their own way shaken up the establishment around the globe.

In 2013, the publishing house Green Books was up for sale and Mansfield acquired its titles, rounding out an already rich canon of works on sustainability and difficult political issues. Many of the successful Green Books titles are practical guides on building with an ecological mindset, such as The Hempcrete Book, or growing organically, as in The Flower Farmer’s Year, or transforming local communities in The Transition Handbook.

While book publishing today is challenging, it’s fulfilling, and Niall chooses both his authors and topics carefully. July’s title is a jewel of a book celebrating the art of the local area, The Cambridge Art Book; September’s title is Growing Self-Sufficiency and next year, Green Books will bring out a title by a celebrated neuroscientist on medicines derived from plants. 



e ACarlucciAncienne Ambiance

Adriana Carlucci

Adriana Carlucci has a lifelong passion for fragrance and beauty. An honours graduate in Product Development from the London College of Fashion, she has worked for American Vogue, Vanity Fair and British handbag designer Lulu Guinness. For the past ten years, Ancienne Ambiance’s online shop has delivered exceptional homeware fragrances hand-made in small batches. Now Carlucci has transformed the online business into a luxury boutique experience in Chelsea, London – not the usual way round to do things.

Ancienne Ambiance perfumed home and body products are inspired by antiquity and ancient civilisations – think Syria, Rome, Greece and Persia. ‘If there’s no origin in ancient stories or any historical recordings, I don’t use it,’ says Carlucci. The brand’s tagline is ‘Step back in time and let your senses come alive’.

Then again, one customer has been in to buy a specific candle which she said reminded her of her grandmother’s face cream she used to use when she was little, so clearly the line inspires personal memories, too.

The next step for Carlucci is developing an eau de cologne, followed next year by an eau de parfum. Boutiques may open in other cities in future, arousing sensory journeys for even more lucky customers.



e SambazoBWSambazon

Ryan Black

Ryan Black is CEO and co-founder of Sambazon, the first brand to bring organic açai from the Brazilian Amazon to the United States. Black is a pioneer in the natural foods industry, and created the company in 2000 with his brother Jeremy Black and friend Ed ‘Skanda’ Nichols following a surf trip to Brazil.

After eating his first bowl of açai, Black saw an opportunity to create nutritious, açai-based products to share with customers all over the world while committing to a socially and environmentally conscious business model.

From day one, Black has ensured that Sambazon stays true to its founding principles and commitment to doing good. Sambazon continues to operate according to the ‘triple bottom line’ philosophy, which measures success economically, socially and environmentally. This progressive, forward-thinking culture is woven throughout the fabric of Sambazon.



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