THE CHANGEMAKER

Meet Lea Wieser, Founder of Arkitaip

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Tell us about your brand. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the future? 

Everything started with my mum’s incredible handcrafting skills. Watching her crochet with such precision and passion has opened my eyes to what truly goes into making clothing. When I saw crochet tops sold for next to nothing on the high street, I realised that something simply didn’t add up. As a journalist at heart, I started researching. Learning about the detrimental effects the fashion industry has on the environment and the people making them, sparked the idea to create ethically- and responsibly-made wardrobe staples that are kind to the skin & our planet. And Arkitaip was born!

We are aware of the fact that currently, almost every business takes more from the planet than it gives back, however, by committing to manufacturing responsibly, using biodegradable and long-lasting, natural materials and by donating parts of our sales, we want to inspire our customers to buy consciously and better.

What’s the most challenging part and how do you tackle that?

Starting a brand has been an emotional rollercoaster – and what might sound like a glamorous career choice is definitely not all roses. The combination of Brexit and Covid-19 has probably been the biggest hurdle so far. As a small business, we were lucky enough to be able to adapt quickly and move fast. However, the past year has been quite a ride – as it has been for everyone! Doing things that ground me like sports, reading, and being surrounded by my loved ones have helped me stay inspired and keep a positive mindset.

What’s the most valuable advice you’ve received in building a sustainable business?

Be resilient. To be able to keep a positive mindset and stay focused yet flexible has proven to be key for overcoming any hurdles so far.

In your personal life, what do you do to be more eco-responsible?

I try to minimise my environmental impact wherever I can – from switching to a plant-based diet (I cut out meat about 7 years ago) to eating seasonal and locally-produced food and opting for quality over quantity – but we all know, nobody is perfect 🙂 So, I think it’s about making informed and conscious choices, being honest with yourself, and always trying to do the best you can at the time.

Which sustainable brands do you admire and why?

I admire Patagonia for their forward-thinking vision of the garment industry and their eco-activism. They also inspired us to join One Percent for the Planet that was co-founded by Patagonia-founder Yvon Chouinard. On January 2021, we have committed to donating 1% of all our sales (not profits!) to the environment.

In a world of fast fashion and overconsumption, what message would you like to put across about sustainability and its importance?

Buy less buy better and always consume consciously.

How do you personally overcome the sometimes overwhelming feeling of striving for sustainable practices in an unsustainable system?

In all honesty, I find it very overwhelming at times. Whenever I get anxious about climate change, I try to remind myself that every little step counts.

What do you do to disconnect from it all?

Nature is my happy place – whenever I feel like I need to clear my head, I go for a run or even just a walk outdoors. I recently picked up yoga again (lockdown somehow made it difficult for me to stick to my practice) which has always been my wonder cure when it comes to disconnecting. I also try to decrease my screen time which I have found particularly hard over the past year and instead, pick up a book or simply be present.

What are some of your favourite sustainable, eco-friendly spots in the city where you live? (hotels, restaurants, cafes, shops, markets, experiences etc.)

I’m based in East London which has so many eco-friendly spots to offer but these are some of my favourites: I love e5 Bakehouse for the best organic, hand-made bread, Silo for an amazing zero-waste dinner, and Re-Store when it comes to grocery shopping in bulk.

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