Thank you to dear Associate Professor Pelin Vardarlier who is one of the most successful academicians in Turkiye for sharing this journey with her readers!
A Line of Sustainably Sourced and Natural Raw Materials
Franchise Market: Can you please tell our readers about your new business idea and inspiration process that you brought to life during the pandemic period?
Nihan Karaaslan Akdemir: As we all have experienced, with the pandemic, chaos and crisis were looming everywhere. The food ordering and distribution app that I was co-founder, which had been established to serve the foreign population and tourists living in Thailand, had decided to stop its operations due to the fact that the majority of the foreign population returned to their own country, tourists could not come, and deliveries could not be made due to curfews.
The Unique Organic was established in Hong Kong in the first quarter of 2022 to serve the global market after seeing a white-space in the sustainable market. it was the beginning of the second year we were living in the new normal brought by the pandemic.
Businesspeople were an important component of the total workforce with approximately 90 million people who had to run between meetings, invitations, exhibitions etc… starting with the re-opening of the borders, which were closed due to the pandemic. Being prepared for the events, taking care of our appearance and being presentable was one of the sine qua non of the business life. Besides being one of those professionals, due to my environmental sensitivity and being against consumerism, I realized the lack of ethical, nature-friendly versions of the needs above that can be described as luxury, and I started working to create a brand that would respond to this need.
Franchise Market: How did you identify environmental awareness with your brand?
Nihan Karaaslan Akdemir: Since being environmentally friendly is one of the basic building blocks of our business idea, it was not difficult to determine how we can identify it. For example, while determining our product range; We gave priority to the environmental friendliness of our raw materials and their applicability with these environmentally friendly raw materials when choosing our designs.
The most of the clothes in our first collection are produced from the fabrics we call tencel satin, which is obtained from sustainable sourced, natural raw material wood, eucalyptus tree with environmentally friendly processes. These fabrics are certified biodegradable from sustainable sources and botanical origins. Also we use biodegradable acetate and recycled plastic for the sunglasses in our collection.
Basically, We tried to reveal our brand’s world-friendly, environmental awareness by being picky about the materials that we use, by refusing the usage of the plastic in the processes such as packaging and labeling and by being a member of the international environmental platform called “1% For the Planet” in order to support environmental associations.
Franchise Market: What problems do you solve with your products?
Nihan Karaaslan Akdemir: Unfortunately, fast fashion waste has great harmful effects on the environment. Approximately 100 million tons of non-recycled fashion waste ends up in the landfills, every year. Considering that fast consumption continues, it is statistically calculated that this amount of waste will reach 140 million tons at the end of the next 10 years. In addition, the textile industry is responsible for 10 percent of global carbon emissions. The higher the carbon footprint, the greater its impact on global warming and climate change.
As a brand that has focused on these ignored facts and volunteered to be a part of the studies in line with its precautions, we act with the awareness that sustainability and recycling are the basic concepts that should be focused on in this context. In addition to ensuring that all of our existing products are recyclable or biodegradable, as a sensitive female entrepreneur, I continue to work on expanding the range of environmentally friendly products. Moreover, we support environmental foundation projects by making donations as a result of special calculations of associations that carry out studies related to carbon emission for the electricity we consume during the conduct of our work, and thus, we go to compensate our carbon footprint.
Franchise Market: Recently, the wastes of some famous fast-fashion brands that hit the African coasts have been discussed. Why don't these companies do it like you do?
Nihan Karaaslan Akdemir: Of course, we should ask the real answer to this question to the interlocutors, I can only talk about the possibilities with a few sentences.
Of course, we entrepreneurs establish our businesses with the aim of making a profit from the very beginning, even if a model we apply works well and keeps us profitable as planned, we may not think much of changing it.
The environmentally friendly business model we apply is a costly model in terms of product, production, and operating costs. At this point, an American writer and speaker Vicki Robin, who writes books mostly about our relationship with money comes to my mind, one of her quotes was also published in Forbes; “If you live for having it all, what you have is never enough.” Basically,it is possible that the famous brands whose existing business models have been working effectively for years and making a lot of profit may not want to go through a change that will reduce their profit margins. Otherwise, I do not think that the fact that they do not prioritize and show sensitivity to the issue is related to their not following the global agenda or not knowing the extent of the damage they do to the environment. However, I hope that most brand directors have started to work on integrating environmental awareness into their brands and they are trying to find solutions.