Meet Cristina Sopo, Founder of The Nordic leaves, a truly sustainable fashion brand
1) When and why did you decide to create a sustainable fashion brand?
Well, honestly, I think it wasn’t an overnight decision, but the evolution of the project that took me there. I started to give shape to it while living in Ireland as an expat. Over there, and after having travelled around Sweden and Norway during different periods of my life, I had already started shifting towards a more sustainable lifestyle, pursuing a greater connection with my values.
That’s when I started to take up design and writing as a way to develop my creativity. My mother had worked as a dressmaker for different firms, and as a child I grew up playing with dolls, designing what they wore and dressing them.
I started to train in agile methodology management and project leadership, and saw this project as practice to be able to carry out the different sprints that would lead me to my minimum viable product, which turned out to be the birth of The Nordic Leaves.
After that, The Nordic Leaves became my space for creation, for collaboration with craftsmen, professionals, illustrators, photographers, art directors, and so on. And being as I am currently immersed in the world of communication, I have seen in this project a way to continue learning and to enjoy committing to co-creating and developing a valuable and quality product, recovering natural fabrics that contribute to the well-being of those who use them.
2) What are the big challenges you’ve had to face to create sustainable fashion?
All of them! Three years ago, when the project started to take shape, sustainable fashion was beginning to emerge, and some important challenges at the time were to ensure the quality of the fabrics and to be able to prove that they really were fair trade. Finding a workshop that would ensure that their employees worked in decent conditions for an honest wage also proved to be tricky.
One of the great challenges that I am now facing is trying to help the brand become more visible. Nowadays, marketing requires a lot of investment, and in order to develop a brand with very few resources, you really have to develop the brand’s identity, its history, its benefits… and this is a wonderful challenge, but one that I am also enjoying.
The current challenge comes with the moment of great uncertainty we are living in, in which planning becomes complex and listening to all the signs is vital if a business wants to have a future in a sector in which there are already many well positioned brands that are starting to use sustainable fabrics.
3) How do you think the consumer will be able to distinguish truly sustainable brands from those that are merely greenwashing?
Well, it’s not easy. The truth is that today you can find clothes from brands that do practice greenwashing, without barely noticing the difference. In order to distinguish them, I would especially like to highlight:
- The quality of the fabrics and materials. The use of high quality fabrics, pleasant to the touch, used to create long-lasting garments.
- How that product was made. I consider the fact they have been produced following the workers’ highest standards is a key factor. This is what defines an ethical brand and should not be something that differentiates us from others, but unfortunately it is.
- Coherence. If a company really has a sustainable DNA, it is highly likely that its whole end-to-end process, and not just part of it, will strive to be sustainable. Otherwise that would probably mean that what it’s really after is merely to reach different target buyers.
4) How do you see the future of fashion? Do you think that real change is really going to happen?
I firmly believe in the future of sustainable fashion and I think we will achieve real change. But, in my own experience, what I think is that it will perhaps happen in an organic way, responding to pressure coming from the consumer -a consumer who prioritizes his health and that of the planet and who, with his decisions, will guide the market.
5) What do you like best about Canussa?
I have to say that for over half a year I’ve had a Canussa handbag which has required very little maintenance and that works perfectly for different occasions due to its versatility. So I have the opportunity to give real feedback about their products. And regarding Canussa as a brand, I would like to highlight its coherence all along the production chain, and therefore, its honesty.
And when it comes to its products, I believe the three key aspects are:
– The quality of the materials: materials that take the environment into account and are also consistent enough to ensure “the body” of the product.
– The design: a very versatile design that looks beyond trends. This means that you can use them for different occasions and also make them last longer.
– The production: Canussa products are produced locally, which means it works with local craftsmen and professionals who bring value and experience to the functionality of its accessories.