How To Build A Sustainable Fashion Brand: according to a female founder
Founded by designer and consultant Sabinna Rachimova, sustainable fashion brand SABINNA was founded on the principles of conscious fashion and mindful experiences. What does this mean? Well, SABINNA is the ideal womenswear brand: driven by storytelling and innovation, combining ethics with aesthetics.
We caught up with the Founder of the eponymous label to hear her take on how to build a sustainable fashion brand, what it takes to produce a truly ethical product and how business leaders are working to regulate and reinvent the garment industry in the wake of the COVID crisis…
So, what led you to found SABINNA?
Learning handcraft from my grandmother and therefore having a lot of respect for the maker, I always valued a sustainable approach. Later, when I started to work in the fashion industry, I realised there is a lack of transparency. The focus was always on the final product but never on the makers. I didn’t really like that.
Having said that, the way we define and talk about sustainability changed a lot in the last couple of years. With research and innovation opening up new opportunities and solutions, we have the chance to improve our product and to improve the way we run our business. Therefore it’s important for us to always stay up to date and informed and introduce better solutions whenever and wherever possible.
Did you face many challenges in the early stages? How does one build an ethical fashion brand?
It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions, an absolutely incredible journey and most importantly a very valuable personal growth process. We faced many challenges, from finding the right funding options to growing the team. Also an affordable and big studio space is something we have been working towards in the last couple of years. I started the business and began to build a sustainable fashion brand in my apartment, working from home for a year, then moving into a shared space and later into a tiny studio on Brick Lane.
A massive milestone happened in November 2019, when we were chosen to be one of the first seven businesses to move into the Trampery studios in Fish Island Village in East London. These spaces are co-funded by the Mayor of London, the London Legacy Department and the British Fashion Council.
What about the challenges sustainable fashion brands face now?
The pandemic and the situation that occurred due to it, is definitely one of the biggest challenges we faced as a business. The first challenge was to stay focused and keep going. Our first task was to move the offline experiences to our online spaces. We are now offering online workshops and you can shop all required materials on our website. This way we can help our business to survive as well as give our community a therapeutic task that is very much needed at the moment.
The response from our community has been overwhelming and we are very touched by the support. We also changed our social media and newsletter content, focusing on positive news and trying to help our community to keep their spirits up in these very difficult times.
What do you think prevents people from shopping for sustainable fashion?
There are many aspects. First of all sustainability is still not inclusive. Not everyone can afford it and not everyone can be part of the conversation. Which is a shame and should change. We are very aware of this problem and as a brand we are constantly working on these aspects. On the other hand side the definition of sustainability is very vague. A lot of brands use the word for marketing purposes and this creates space for greenwashing. It gets confusing for the consumer.
What are your tips for living more consciously?
As someone who runs a fashion brand and sells clothes I probably shouldn’t say it but only buy clothes that you really need and that you will wear.
Creating an ethical brand is no mean feat and must be stressful at times. Describe your perfect day…
It’s not always easy for me to leave the bed, but I actually prefer to start my days early. I always have breakfast, it’s my favorite meal of the day. A perfect day would also need to have 50 hours or more – so I can do all the things that I really love: like working on new concepts for SABINNA, talking to my friends and family (and post Corona also seeing them in real life and hugging them!), a perfect day would also include vegan burgers and doughnuts. And some much needed moments of mindfulness – where I get to sit in silence, do nothing and simply be.
What’s on SABINNA’s agenda at the moment?
We just launched our RECONNECT SETS, which we are very excited about! In the next couple of weeks we have quite a few exciting projects that we can’t wait to share. There will be more community content, so we can continue to engage with each other and we are also starting to sell our non-medical SABINNA masks. These are mandatory in a lot of parts in Europe and soon also in the UK.
Any tips for aspiring female founders and entrepreneurs?
There are no shortcuts, you have to walk the walk so you can talk the talk. And be supportive! If you want to build a sustainable fashion brand the right way, help each other to make the work environment better for women at every stage.