Lit’Talks | 01 | Sustainable Fashion

Daastan is proud to present to you the first episode of Lit’Talks in collaboration with KhudKaar House sponsored by the British Council. We aim to organize sessions which involve meaningful discussions and a fruitful output for all those watching. The purpose of this particular session on Sustainable Fashion lies in helping women entrepreneurs in Layyah to understand the process and gain an insight.

About Pamela Mejia

In conversation with the extremely talented and successful Fashion Social Entrepreneur- Pamela Mejia– Ommer talks about what exactly sustainable fashion is and the struggles and challenges Pamela faced on her journey to establishing Phinix Textiles. Having initiated her first business at the young age of 17, Pamela is now the CEO of two successful business- Phinix and Fibers.

What Is Sustainable Fashion and Circular Economy?

Before talking about the why’s and how’s, it is important to discuss what exactly Sustainable Fashion is. The root cause that gave birth to Sustainable Fashion was the textile wastage in huge quantities, lack of proper disposal methods and absence of recycling organizations. Pamela sums it up perfectly by introducing three characteristics that any sustainable fashion business has:

  1. Every sustainable fashion enterprise focuses on a social or environmental issue and works tirelessly to lessen its negative effect on the environment or economy.
  2. It goes way beyond fashion, trends and profitability. Of course these things matter in a fashion business but there are many other aspects to it.
  3. An environment friendly fashion entrepreneur can also focus on making a positive social impact on the industry or the target market.

Such enterprises are making an active effort to convert from a linear economy to a circular economy.

What is a circular economy?

One may wonder. Pamela described this very simply by stating that linear economy is one that has three steps: 1) make 2) consume 3) throw. The circular economy too has three steps but those are: 1) make 2) consume 2) reuse/recycle. In today’s world, circular economies are encouraged wholeheartedly since they promote a healthier and more environment friendly lifestyle.

*An interesting fact about Phinix products is that they are made by local artists in the Philippines. Many of these artists are people with some disability which prevents them from earning money through other common means.

Digital vs bazaar/Retail Marketing- which is better?

This is something that is talked about very often by all sorts of business owners. In conversation with Ommer and Pamela, the pros and cons of both were highlighted. Digital marketing attracts customers through various ways such as paid promotions and shout-outs by influencers. Although, pop up shops are considered to have higher sales, the mode of marketing is also majorly decided by looking at the nature of a business. In a business like Phinix where the products are shoes and handbags, it would be better to have a retail shop since customers like to touch and get a feel of the product which cannot be done online.

Pamela talks about how both marketing means advantages and disadvantages and so one must find the perfect balance between offline and online marketing. She also talks about how consistency is the key to gaining customers in an online setting- considering the new normal. Talking from her personal experience, she explains how people like to see the process behind the work- the stories that go into making of the products.

Struggles in launching a Retail Shop and Scaling strategies

Another topic of discussion was the scaling strategies and the struggles in launching a retail shop. Pamela narrates her experiences for the audience and discusses how she has come to the conclusion that location matters the most in increasing/decreasing the sales levels. A shop should be somewhere where your target market can easily access it. It should also be somewhere where strangers passing by can see it and be attracted so they visit your shop out of curiosity! There are many other factors that affect the sales in an offline setting (Parking space, the space and location being a few). Phinix now does consignments with stores in ideal locations as Pamela seems to think it is the perfect solution.

Different individuals and entrepreneurs have different ideas about scaling strategies. Pamela is a firm believer of starting small and paying attention to the little things which then in future become the entire brand. She explains how she participated in many competitions to gain exposure and experience and how learning is a constant process. You can never have too much knowledge!

How to fund raise globally?

Having successfully managed two businesses starting from scratch, who better to ask about fundraising than Pamela? To raise funds, Pamela explains, one must have a brand image that makes the investors go wow! It should be detailed, well thought and presented in an attractive way. One must know their product inside out and the right techniques to sell an idea/product.

Market research is equally important. Find opportunities and take up all of them! Do not be choosy and just participate in all that you can. It will not only gain you funds for your business but teach you a lot as well! British council too has many openings for beginners. Socal media is an integral part of our lives nowadays so we might as well use it to research regularly about scholarships, grants and other resources. You can never know when a door might open up.

On an ending note, Pamela talks about how your 20s are the years that you can utilize the most since it’s when you have the potential and the energy. One thing that stuck with us was when she says that you can only put in efforts, the rest you leave up to timings. There is a perfect timing for everything, you just have to be your most authentic self and have faith!

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