For this weeks Sunday Supplement, we caught up with Joy and Sophie, founders of Anegada. Sophie and Joy met at university and joined forces a few years later to bring together their love of travel, traditional crafts and luxury resort wear. We’d love to hear about your journey to starting Anegada- tell us about how it all began. Sophie- "Anegada began back during a university summer holiday when me and Joy went travelling to india. We fell in love with the block printing, the colours and the organic cotton over there and we wanted to bring it all back to the UK."
What inspired you to start a sustainable brand? Joy- "Sophie and I had both worked in the luxury fashion industry for a number of years and we both saw how unsustainable it was and the amount of green washing that goes on within it. So we wanted to create a brand that was both sustainable and luxury, which I think are elements that aren’t bought together very well or often. We did this by creating a luxury product in terms of our design, our packaging and the product itself but bought in the sustainable element by ensuring that it was sustainable from start to finish. From the packaging of the boxes, to the cards we put in, to the sustainable materials to ensuring that the workers are paid. We really wanted it to be a 360 approach."
We love the idea of making luxury garments that are fully compostable and you tell us a little more about choosing your materials. Joy- "The compostable element was really important to us, we wanted to eradicate any use of plastic in our products. So we started with our dress material and for that we wanted to use GOTS certified organic cotton, which means that it uses far less water than normal cotton and there’s no pesticides used and even the soil it’s grown in has to be free from fertilizers and also that it’s not treated with chemicals. Then we looked at the packaging, which was a little more tricky to find something that was sustainable, but we’ve gone for FSC certified boxes. The gift boxes, the outer cartons and the cards inside are all FSC, and they’re all printed using vegetable inks so they are as compostable as possible. The other element we considered was the shell buttons on our dresses, which means it’s a fully natural material rather than using plastic buttons, and also means you can literally put our dresses into a compost bin at the end of their life and they’ll have completely deteriorated within 5 months."
What is the inspiration behind your designs? Sophie- "We wanted to keep our designs as simple as possible, when you’re on the beach you want to be comfortable in the sun so they’re very fuss free. Only one of our designs has buttons which are made from shells and the actual prints on the dresses are all inspired from our travels. So we have corals on one of the dresses, an ibizan geometric print, shells. All our designs are inspired from our days out on the beach."
Do you have any advise for anyone starting out making their fashion brand? Sophie- "You need a unique selling point that will make you stand out from the crowd. There’s so many brands popping up on Instagram everyday so you need something that makes you unique." Joy- "I think for me it would be that you need to be thinking about the planet. There’s no excuse anymore to not have that as your number 1 priority. We’ve all seen the likes of Boohoo and Shein and the effect they, and fast fashion in general, are having on our planet. Today customers are much more aware of that, I hope, and there’s no excuse not to have that as number 1 priority and not to be thinking of that every step of the way from your production right the way through to the end point."
What’s been your proudest moment so far? Sophie- "I think my proudest moment was getting the first customer order from the website. Knowing that someone is so excited about our brand and wants to buy one of our dresses. And packaging and sending it off to them, I don’t think I can ever relive the way I felt that day." Joy- "For me it was definitely the day we had our photoshoot for our dresses. It was the most incredible day, it was all new, something I’d never done before, and having the make up artist and the photographers and the models turn up, it just felt amazing to finally see them on people. And I remember sending Sophie all the videos from the day and we were just so excited. That was a really proud moment."
Have you come up against any hurdles in launching a sustainable brand? Joy- "I think one of our biggest hurdles surprisingly was actually the packaging. We really struggled to find a sustainable packaging supplier. In the end we actually found one in the UK who printed everything with vegetable ink and it was all FSC as well."
What makes you feel optimistic about our planet's future? Sophie- "It's a more open discussion between people. We’re all becoming more aware of what we’re buying, what we’re eating and it’s almost an obligation we have to make every time we open our purse."
Which podcasts are your favourite at the moment? Joy- "At the moment it would be Diary of A CEO. It’s my go-to podcast I listen to on the way to work and I listened to one recently which was an interview with Ben Francis from Gym Shark and it was just so inspiring to hear how at such a young age he set up the business and to see where it is today, I really find that motivating and really love that one." Sophie- "I’m really loving Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place at the moment. Another one depending on my mood- I love The Girls Bathroom. I just think all their topics are quite relatable especially since we’re in our 20s. So I always put that on when I need a boost."