INTERVIEWS

Meet Sonia Mota & Jose Oliveira, Founders of Francis Stories

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

When we first launched the brand, our objective was to create a brand with pieces that could be in the intersection of four key dimensions: 1) a timeless and long-lasting design; 2) high quality of construction and materials; 3) a sustainable mindset, especially in relation to the materials used and their impact on the environment during the life and afterlife of the pieces; and 4) an ethical approach towards to both the animals that produce the wool used and the people that contribute to the making of our pieces.

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

The most challenging part for us has always been finding trustworthy and quality materials, producers and manufacturers, that are both able to deliver a product that we can tell our clients that was made with great quality, and at the same time provide us the necessary guarantees and assurances that their products/processes are made under our standard of sustainable and ethical approaches to environment, animals and people. 

To address that, we surrounded ourselves from the very first hour with people we knew from previous professional/academic interactions, that were very knowledgeable about materials, processes and the different suppliers on the market. We have always been eager to both learn more about these suppliers and progressively demand more from them in terms of transparency and commitment to better sustainable and ethical practices. While we cannot say that these demands from us alone have made the difference, in combination with others in the industry we are delighted to see it creating a positive impact on the suppliers.

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

Demand information, seek knowledge, search for better suppliers and better products. Even if all this is wearying and more expensive. In the end, you’ll be building a sustainable brand that your customers can trust in. 

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

Our mindset for a more sustainable life is to always consume in a more considerate way. We always try to consume less (on a wide array of products and services) and consume better, which sometimes means not going down the most comfortable or the easiest route!

However, we always think about the impact of a product or service from start to finish. For instance, we purchase fashion that we know is good quality, that will last, and which is made of natural materials to avoid releasing microplastics into water sources during washing and in its afterlife (although we try to reuse or recycle our old clothing as much as possible and whenever that’s feasible). We also aim to use fresh ingredients when cooking, sourced locally, stripped of all plastic or paper packagings, and reduce food waste by purchasing and cooking only what we will be able to consume. 

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

The key to sustainability is to always consume in a more considerate way, and that entails both reducing the amount we consume but also getting more information on what we are consuming. 

From there, there are many sustainable routes to take, all with valid pros and cons, including recycling, going vegan, or 100% natural and organic. The important bit is making a conscious and informed decision about our choice. 

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

The trickiest part is when you look around and everybody seems to be leading an easier life not caring about sustainability issues. Sometimes it feels like we’re rowing against the tide and going nowhere, and we’d better just give up and join the crowd. 

But then we look a bit closer and see people that are also rowing to the same direction as us, and in increasingly bigger numbers. So it’s often a good idea to take a closer look at what others are doing to feel less alone and less of an outsider. It really helps to feel that more people are backing your own life choices too!

Any advice to share for someone looking to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle? 

I think that the best advice is to seek information – get educated about the different sustainable options what aspects they address. There’s no perfect solution, and there’s definitely no overnight solution, so sustainable living is a long path. 

You can go as fast as you can but what always matters most is moving forward and not getting frustrated at the fact that there is no perfect end game.

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