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Sustainable Style: Beate Baethke and the Journey of BORGANB, the Eco-Fashion Brand Making a Statement

Join us as we explore the heart and soul behind BORGANB, a brand that proves fashion can be a force for good in protecting our environment.

Welcome to an inspiring interview with Beate Baethke, the visionary Founding Director of BORGANB, a pioneering eco-fashion brand that is revolutionising the industry with its commitment to sustainability and environmental consciousness. With a strong belief in the intrinsic connection between humanity and nature, Beate embarked on a journey to create a brand that celebrates the beauty of organic materials while leaving a positive impact on the planet.

Throughout this candid conversation, Beate shares her passion for environmental stewardship, the transformative power of innovative materials made from organic waste, and the exciting journey that led her to launch BORGANB. As she delves into the brand’s mission to promote eco-friendly fashion and her vision for the future, we gain invaluable insights into how fashion can be a force for good.

Join us as we delve into Beate’s compelling story of dedication, creativity, and unwavering commitment to making a difference through sustainable fashion. Learn about the design process behind BORGANB’s groundbreaking products, her plans for expanding the brand’s range, and the destinations that inspire her to champion environmental sustainability.

Whether you’re an avid eco-conscious fashion enthusiast or simply seeking inspiration to make a positive impact on the world, Beate Baethke’s journey and her brainchild, BORGANB, are sure to leave an indelible mark on your heart and mind.

Get ready to be captivated by Beate’s compelling vision as she shares her dreams and aspirations for a more sustainable and harmonious world.

Tell us about the journey that led you to launch your brand, BORGANB. Being eco-friendly is at the forefront of what you do. Why was this important to you?

As human beings, everything we do must be in harmony with natural cycles because we are an integral part of them. However, over the years, especially since the era of enlightenment and industrialisation, we have lost our natural connection to the environment. Science and logic became the dominant systems of understanding, and this led to a detachment from nature.

Ignoring our impact on the environment is not sustainable, and it poses a significant threat to life on Earth. During my studies of economics and business in Germany, I delved into the concept of ecological accounting, researching the external impact of production on the environment and exploring ways to integrate these impacts into traditional accounting systems. I strongly believed that natural resources like air, water, and soil should not be treated as ‘free goods,’ and polluters should bear the cost of their actions. This, in turn, would influence supply and demand and reward eco-friendly companies, making them more attractive to investors.

Throughout my journey, I have been drawn to ventures that align with my environmental values. I worked for a solar energy business in Cologne during the 1990s when renewable energy was considered quite unconventional. Later, I spent over 20 years in development finance and investment in Africa, gaining valuable insights into company dynamics and observing both successful and unsuccessful businesses operating in challenging circumstances.

It was during this time, after watching David Attenborough’s series on ocean plastic pollution, that I decided to explore innovative organic materials made from waste and create plastic-free products. In 2020, I launched BORGANB in Cologne, despite being based in London, to take advantage of the cost-efficiency and proximity to organic material suppliers and manufacturers in the EU.

Through BORGANB, my mission is to demonstrate that beauty can coexist with eco-friendliness. I have encountered numerous inspiring individuals and companies working on innovative materials made from plants or organic waste. By utilising these materials, we aim to show that we can create beautiful products without harming the environment.

How do you want women to feel when they wear your products?

I hope that anyone wearing a BORGANB bag feels not only the joy of owning a beautiful piece but also the satisfaction of making an important statement about connecting with nature. BORGANB represents the epitome of eco-fashion, showcasing how we can use environmentally appropriate materials and avoid harmful plastic. Our products are not only good for humans but also contribute positively to the well-being of all living creatures and environmental systems.

What’s the process behind launching a new design, and who is involved in the process?

The journey of BORGANB began with our first production line, which featured fish and rhubarb-tanned leather bags. This came to fruition after I discovered the extraordinary fish leather from Nova Kaeru, a Brazilian company, during the Future Fabrics Expo by Sustainable Angle in London four years ago. Intrigued by the material and its story, I envisioned a bag that would showcase its beauty to a wider audience.

To create this design, I collaborated with Ruth Glen, a talented bag designer based in London. The focus was on minimising waste and allowing the material’s natural beauty to speak for itself. It was also essential to ensure that the production process remained free of plastic, even in the yarn used. To achieve this, we partnered with suppliers and manufacturers who followed fair and ethical labor practices. We insisted on sourcing and manufacturing everything in Europe, despite the higher costs, to maintain ethical control and minimise negative environmental impacts.

Absolutely! I intend to continue improving and diversifying our current range of products, exploring different colours and sizes. Beyond that, my vision for the next chapter of our journey involves using innovative plant-based organic waste materials to create skin-friendly bio-clothes, collaborating once again with a talented designer.

If you didn’t pursue this career, what else would you have liked to do?

Before embarking on my current path, I have had two other fulfilling careers, each providing valuable experiences that I can now bring to bear on issues I’m passionate about. My goal has always been to combine creativity with business and environmental objectives. Engaging in new and interesting ideas that align with nature excites me at this stage of my career, and I believe that together, we can make a difference by leveraging everyone’s unique talents.

Tell us about an average day in your life….

My days are varied and depend on the focus at hand. Some days are dedicated to brainstorming new ideas for products, designs, and branding, fostering creativity. On other days, I attend to the usual administrative tasks, communication, and planning required to run the business efficiently. Striking a balance between managing my household (including taking care of my pet Rhodesian Ridgeback), maintaining personal health, and running my business is essential.

When you look back at the time since you started your business, is there anything you would do differently?

Looking back, I realise that starting BORGANB with a like-minded business partner might have made the initial journey a little smoother. However, it is never too late to consider such a partnership, and I remain open to the possibility.

Our readers love to travel. What destination is at the top of your wish list?

Brazil has been on the top of my wish list for a while now. I have never been there, and the allure of the language, culture, and people fascinates me. I am particularly keen on visiting Nova Kaeru, our partners in Brazil, who produce the organic fish leather for BORGANB. Additionally, I intend to find a local charity supporting indigenous people with whom BORGANB can collaborate, using a portion of our profits for social, cultural, and environmental investments.

Currently, BORGANB supports Native Hope, an indigenous North American organisation in South Dakota, USA, focused on preserving their culture and wisdom. I would love to revisit them as well.

Where do you call home?

Home is wherever I feel comfortable, surrounded by family and friends. Usually, that means Richmond, London, as well as Cologne, Germany, and the South of France.

Running a business can be very stressful. What do you do to wind down?

To unwind and destress, I turn to meditation, immerse myself in nature, and enjoy swimming, preferably in the sea.

What is your favourite quote when you lack motivation?

“Dream your life beautifully and make your reality out of these dreams” (Marie Curie).

Lack of motivation is a part of life, and I believe in accepting it when it arises. When I face such moments, I turn to meditation to introspect and find the inspiration to move forward.

In five years from now, where do you see the brand?

In five years, I envision BORGANB at Chapter Five of its history. Our journey will have brought forth a wider range of new products, showcasing how innovative materials can be used in fashion. Our mission is to grow organically and sustainably, reaching more customers who identify with our brand and increasing our turnover. By that time, I hope to have investors who believe in our mission and will support the financial sustainability of our business approach.

Where can people find out more?

For more information about BORGANB, visit our website at www.borganb.com. There, you will find useful information and delightful illustrations of our products. Additionally, we will soon be launching blogs covering topics such as fashion, innovative and eco-friendly materials, as well as interviews with our suppliers and customers.

You can also find us on Instagram @borgan.b and LinkedIn under BORGANB and Beate Baethke.

I am always delighted to engage in conversations with people who are interested in what we are doing.