Ecopreneurs equipping their business for the future

May 29, 2020 | Events, News, Workshops

By <a href="" target="_self">George Catchpole</a>

By George Catchpole

Marketing Manager

An avid festival goer for 25 years, Cat Jameson, Founder of Carny Valley, remembers the exact moment she identified her way to weave a greener thread into the UK festival scene.  Along with a host of entrepreneurs, Cat recently attended The Planet Mark Start! workshop, where she completed a sustainability plan and received certification to the programme.

“With rain being almost an inevitability at any UK event, I saw a need for more ‘festival fitting’ rainwear. Putting your dull rain mac on over a fabulous outfit just doesn’t cut it! I realised that, across the board in the rainwear market, there was a void in the availability of fun and eco-friendly rainwear.What I wanted to do was to create something unique and beautiful, something sustainable and long-lasting, and something innovative and well-designed, all in one garment.“

Building a brand that was responsible and transparent in its practices, was not just a source of competitive advantage for Cat, but a moral obligation. 

“We’ve all seen the devastating scenes following certain festivals. That’s the visible waste, tents, sleeping bags and camping chairs on an epic scale. The truth is that it doesn’t stop there. There are tonnes of clothes that are bought as ‘festival outfits’, worn once and then relegated to the back of the wardrobe, charity shops or worse, landfill. This mindset isn’t just limited to the festival scene. Fashion is a hugely damaging industry. More now, we are seeing the push to encourage people to buy responsibly and buy less, which is spot on, but I truly believe that the industry also has to change. I think that we have to measure our impact, work closely with our suppliers and be creative in our design thinking. That’s the key to building a more sustainable future. “

Perhaps there’s no greater testament to Cat’s conviction than her business Carny Valley; a designer of sustainable waxed cotton rain capes.

“I recall having conversations with sales experts advocating that manufacturing of products that last is not good for business! I wanted to create a product that will last for decades. If I was going to be involved in introducing a product, I wanted to mitigate against the negative effects of doing so. It had to answer to my internal sustainability checklist. Our capes are designed and made right here in the UK. They are made from waxed cotton; I chose natural materials because I didn’t want to contribute to the growing plastic problem. With clever design, we were able to reduce the need for lots of accessory parts. As we are now becoming aware, the cotton industry can be hugely damaging to the environment. The waxed cotton manufacturer I use to make the majority of my capes, British Millerain, are part of the Better Cotton Initiative, (BCI). The BCI enable environmental and social responsibility within the cotton industry. All of our packaging is recycled, recyclable, compostable and/or reusable even the gummed paper tape can be composted. Sustainability wasn’t an afterthought – it was right there from the beginning.”

Cat was one of many start- up owners that attended a The Planet Mark Start! sustainability workshop designed to provide free sustainability planning, marketing and certification for their business. 

“Attending sessions such as these teach you so much. There is a room full of like-minded individuals sharing ideas and best practices, and it provides a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with other young entrepreneurs. Many start-ups and small business owners work alone and don’t have the benefit of discussion or sound boarding with people on the same page. These sessions offer a great opportunity to give and receive support. It equipped me with the confidence to scrutinise other organisations from an ecological perspective, the knock-on effect is immense. I freelance for another company who import products from Asia. The knowledge gained from these sessions and the accreditation gave me the determination and the gravitas to help them to shift their environmental consciousness.” 

How will your organisation fit into this new economy? The Planet Mark Start! is a digital and interactive programme, delivered by sustainability experts, to help you to re-imagine and #buildbackbetter. Book your spot on the next programme on 19th June.