INTERVIEWS

Meet Sandra Orozco, Founder of Oroz & Co

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

It all started quite unexpectedly. Since I was young, I always loved fashion, photography and design, although I never imagined I would end up being where I am. After living and volunteering in India as a NICU nurse educator, I learned more about the devastating effects the fashion industry has on the environment and the people at the beginning of the chain. I came back to the UK with a different mindset and with many ideas on how to do things better.

I started changing my lifestyle and diet and researching more about sustainability plus the effects of fast fashion and overconsumption. I knew I wanted to do something different with my career as I wasn’t in a happy place and I felt I needed to reconnect with myself and explore my creative side. But it wasn’t until the pandemic hit us and we went into the first lockdown in London that I decided to shake up my life, face the fears and make a change. I started working part-time in fashion & marketing for an online London-based magazine, while using almost all my free time to work on this new project.

As an amateur photographer and travel lover, I decided to start this adventure by creating the perfect camera bag, mindfully designed with the best and most sustainable materials in the market. I researched endlessly and requested numerous samples to ensure I was working with the best. Once the design and materials were decided, I had by then a very clear Idea of what I wanted Oroz & Co to be and started working full time on the brand.

I moved to Spain where I met our current handbag atelier. Being so close to the best shoemakers in the world gave me the opportunity to create another great product I had on mind. Something that has become a staple of almost everyone’s wardrobe (especially during the pandemic months): trainers, but with the same principles behind them – artisan-made, comfortable, 100% vegan and sustainable!

After months of hard work, Oroz & Co’s website launched in May 2021: a cruelty-free, conscious and slow fashion brand in response to a fashion cycle that goes too fast. We’re committed to preserving planet earth for future generations by staying true to sustainable and ethical production from beginning to end. We make pieces that last, using only the best locally-sourced, bio-based and recycled materials on the market. All are handcrafted by our expert artisans in Elda and Alicante (Spain) and we always seek to minimise material waste using the on-demand model. This way, we can make smarter use of resources, and minimise waste and overproduction.

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

Starting a brand (and changing career), especially in the midst of a pandemic, has been (and still is) an emotional rollercoaster. Some days you feel everything is going great and you’re all positivism, the next one you’re not even sure what you are doing or if the project is going to work. Being a new, small business navigating a combination of Brexit and Covid-19 has not been easy, but neither was it easy to find the right manufacturers – who not only had the experience but also wanted to work with our sustainable bio-based materials and on a made-to-order basis.

Fortunately, being surrounded by family, friends and other entrepreneurs is making the journey easier. Doing some yoga, reading, and forcing myself to take some time off has definitely helped me recharge my batteries and to stay positive.

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

Create something you believe in, but don’t forget that starting a business is not easy! You will have to work a lot. Be patient and stay open to new opportunities. Look for and keep connections with people that inspire you. Help others and you will receive it in return.

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

I am trying to do my best, and slowly trying to minimise my environmental impact wherever I can – from switching to a plant-based diet (I cut out meat more than 2 years ago) to eating seasonal and locally-produced food and opting for quality over quantity. I also try to avoid single-use plastic products and instead, carry my reusable bottle, cup and cutlery on trips.

I am also more mindful with my fashion choices, trying to buy less but better, and being more mindful about where and how the products are manufactured as well as the materials they have used.

Nobody is perfect but every single act counts. So, my advice would be to always try to make informed and conscious choices.

Source: Oroz & Co Instagram

Which sustainable brands do you admire and why?

I am happy to see (and constantly discover) many new sustainable and slower fashion brands in the market, and I admire many of them. It’s so inspiring to see other businesses/ brands doing positive things and I believe we are all working towards the same direction.

Some of my current favourites are Hemper, Patagonia, Ecoalf, Kimai, Lug Von Siga or Hupit, to name a few. All of them with a focus on sustainability, wonderful products, initiatives and similar brand values.

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

If you don’t need something, don’t buy it. Buying less and better is key in my opinion, and I have created Oroz & Co products with that motto in mind.

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

I remind myself that changing fashion is an ongoing journey, and that we are forming an active part of that change, step by step.

What do you do to disconnect from it all?

A wee trip, yoga in the morning, reading a good book, a hike in nature, watching a sunset, a home-cooked meal with my partner, or spending quality time with family and friends are some of my favourites.

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

Don’t try to start making big changes from the beginning. Instead, try to do easy and accessible things first. Buying a reusable bottle, cup and grocery bag; reducing animal products; and being more mindful when buying clothes, were some of the first things I introduced into my lifestyle.

Be open to learning more about sustainability: listen, watch and read (there are so many good resources out there!), and take it one step at a time, remembering that every little change counts 🙂

Source: Oroz & Co Instagram

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