As a regular listener to Lauren Laverne’s 6 music’s breakfast show, I love the “It’s Business Time” feature where independent businesses share their story and get an all-important shout out, which in 2020 has been very much needed.
My ears immediately pricked up when I heard Kit Change mentioned.
Kit Change produce stylish Active wear made from Recycled plastic bottles. How brilliant is that?!
Anyone who follows me will know, as someone who used to work in fast fashion, I am appalled at the damage that fashion is doing to our planet.
I could give you many shocking facts, here’s one I read just yesterday; The UK is now only 2nd to the US in terms of clothing waste 7 TONNES BINNED EVERY MINUTE …. Just let that sink in for a minute….
So, my admiration for Kit Change is twofold; producing sustainable clothing and being bold enough to make the leap, to launching this business for good, in November 2020, as the ravages and fatigue of the global pandemic were apparent for all.
Now, there’s a business that needs a BOLDER shout out, thought I!
The BOLDER Living newsletter is all about giving Knowledge, Power and Inspiration to you, dear reader!
Emily and Vicky are truly inspirational as a team and I had a brilliant conversation with them both, just before Christmas, to find out what helped them to make the leap to set up Kit Change.
Who are Kit Change?
Vicky (right) is a Designer, Emily (left) is a Buyer. Both have a lot of experience of working, extremely hard in fast fashion.
Emily used to work at TOPSHOP as an Accessories Buyer and Vicky who is trained as a Textile Designer, designed and developed fashion product, based out in Hong Kong with her husband for a long time, working crazy hours whilst bringing up a young family.
Vicky and Emily met when both landed in the same village in Derbyshire at the same time.
They then worked together for many years developing fashion product. A key aspect of working in fashion is developing strong and trusting relationships with factories and mills across the world.
“We’ve got to do this”
On one trip out in China, they had a visit planned to a family run factory. On this visit they discovered that the factory was producing fabric out of recycled plastic bottles.
At the end of the visit they instinctively knew, they had to do something together, using this brilliant sustainable method to make product. It was important they were in control of designing and making, in the way that they wanted to do it.
With all of their fashion and business knowledge, an honest and collaborative approach to their partnership, strong relationships with trusted connections in the fashion industry and a belief that there has to be a better way to creating fashion, what did they have to lose? Nothing!
Launching Kit Change
Once Vicky and Emily had made the decision to start up their own sustainable clothing business it took them 18 months of planning before they launched it.
They wanted to use the plastic bottles to be recycled into sustainable long lasting, comfortable fabric that’s fit for purpose and Active wear fitted the bill.
They both love exercise as part of their daily routine. “It helps you get your head straight” says Vicky, part of a daily way to feel alive.
Their Active wear is very much for “real people”
This is really evident in how they’ve engaged people in Kitchange, using real people as their models and photographers in their local community to do the shoots.
Modern Makers at the Mill
The home of Kitchange is in the beautiful Peak District at the Derwent Valley Mills the birth place of the factory system in the 1700’s.
The Mills are now a hub of creativity for many local businesses and seem a very fitting home for Kitchange and our much needed rethinking, reusing and reinventing how we sustainably produce clothing.
Emily and Vicky’s honesty, and belief in good connections and strong relationships came shining through.
They don’t believe themselves to be perfect in how they are producing. Their sustainable active wear is made in China and they don’t hide from knowing that there’s an environmental impact to that.
They are not ones for any kind of “Green Washing” and their honesty and “real people” approach to business for good is a value that you’ll experience when you engage with Kit Change.
I so enjoyed chatting with them both, I could have chatted to them all day!
A couple of nuggets to leave you with:
Kit Change advice to anyone considering making the leap, to do what they love:
1. “Write down what you know”
It’s amazing how much knowledge you have and when you see it all written down;
2. “Big up yourself!”
Be proud of all of you’ve achieved and shout about it!
3. “Follow what works for you”
For Emily and Vicky, it was working together as partners, for others going it alone might be what works best for you.
4. “If I don’t do something, don’t go for it… what a waste!”
If you’re questioning why you’re continuing to do something that you don’t believe in and you have a strong pull and belief to create something that matters, business for good, go for it…….
5. What’s the worst that can happen?
Will you forever regret not following your instincts or go for it and know it comes with a risk that it might not work out?
For Kit Change the regret of not following their instincts would be far worse than going for it!
“If there’s a possibility, crack on and do it!”
I’m so glad they have gone for it, even more so, that this weird year did not stop them following their dreams!
What BOLD Action will Kit Change take in 2021?
The dream is to have makers in the mill again, bringing production into the UK
Please go and checkout www.Kitchange.co.uk for some super stylish sustainable active wear. And if their story inspires you to take BOLD action please let either me or them know!