GLOBE HOPE SPREADS RECYCLING MESSAGE A ractive design and ecological awareness come together for clothing maker Globe Hope. The company has received eight awards from business to culture and art. By Satu Jussila Photograph by Globe Hope lothing maker Globe Hope has been spreading the message of recycling through attractive designs since 2003. While the scale of its operations in the town of Nummela, Finland, is not grand, this company's brand message is clear: "We modify existing materials to make trendy clothes for consumers who want to show their ecological awareness through fashion," says Seija Lukkala, ceo of Globe Hope. The clothes are sold in retail outlets and design stores in Finland, Japan and 11 other countries throughout Europe, and a classic line is available through the company's website. Ask Lukkala about the challenges facing the textile industry, and you can see the source of her motivation. "The textile industry is one of the worst polluters in the world," she explains. "Just look at cotton and its production process. The cotton is grown. Fertilizers are used in the cultivation; soil erosion occurs. The raw material is shipped from one factory to another where it is processed and dyed. It is then shipped to a factory where it is turned into articles of clothing, which are then sent to a retail outlet. A consumer buys it, wears it a few times and throws it away. And the whole process starts over." The crux of the problem, according to Lukkala, is that many consumers have lost an appreciation for their clothes. Price competition has forced manufacturers to offer ever cheaper products. Quality suffers, and consumers feel it is acceptable to wear something a few times and throw it away. C "For us, it's a matter of ethics: We turn down business that doesn't fit our ideology." Design important to business The genius behind Globe Hope is the emphasis on design. "We come out with four clothing lines each year, two in the fall and two in the spring," says Seija Lukkala. "Each line has a theme that we think is important, such as `clean food, local food', `forests', or `junk products'." The company designs the fashions around the theme with the help of freelance designers. Fabrics that fit the theme are then bought. "Our biggest source of material is army wear from Finland and Sweden and surgical outfits and bed linen from hospitals. We also use home textiles that the public has donated to recycling centres; but this material can be challenging because of the aged quality." The business has grown over the years, and so have the accolades. Globe Hope has received eight awards in various sectors, such as business and design. The last award, received in December 2006, was for culture and art. "I have worked in the fashion industry for over 20 years, and I used to be a freelance designer. I understand this business well and wanted to do my part for the environment," says Lukkala. The company has five full-time employees and outsources the clothing assembly to subcontractors in Finland and Estonia. The sewing takes place both in factories and home settings. Immigrant employment is used where possible. Globe Hope is not the only Finnish company recycling fabric to create new fashions. Old clothing and housewares are turned into fun new products by a company called Plan B, which operates a boutique in the Kierrätyskeskus recycling centre in downtown Helsinki. Focus on ethics Lukkala was taking continuing education classes at the University of Art and Design Helsinki when she first got the idea of starting Globe Hope. "Studying gave me a chance to stop and think. I listened to some great lectures and realised that I wanted to do business in a different way," she says. Lukkala developed the idea for two years before starting the business. At the launch of her company, she received seed money for a test design from Tekes, a government-sponsored agency that serves as a source of r&d funding for all kinds of businesses. At the start-up stage, she also received funding from investors. Lukkala is proud of how the business has progressed. "I have to make enough money to feed my family and pay the workers, but profitability is not the main point. "For us, it's a matter of ethics: We turn down business that doesn't fit our ideology. People believe in the idea. I certainly could not do this alone." www.globehope.com FOCUS 2008 33
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