Business

Bringing Business to Life: humour.noir

It's been an eventful year for humour.noir. After being awarded the Eco-Age Brandmark and achieving recognition from the 2019 German Design Awards, creative director Anke Fabritius and founder Jenny Steinke discuss what motivates them to challenge the fashion industry and push their own boundaries.
By Lori Delaney
05.08.19

What inspired you to launch humour.noir?

Jenny and I used to work in the fast fashion sector for many years. We gained a lot of experience but also learned of the implications of the principles “fast” and “more” and we always felt that we want to make a change. Then, while being on vacation in Africa in 2017, Jenny met a vegan woman who proudly presented her new achievement: a vegan, pink PU bag. It turned out that there was a big lack of real alternatives available on the market, as well as of knowledge of the materials and their impact to the environment. Plastic as an alternative to leather? Isn’t this just like jumping out of the frying pan right into the fire? But it was not only about an alternative, more “how far can I go to make a real change?”. Jenny involved me in the project right away. We aim to merge true sustainability with art, using animal-free materials and fine craftsmanship and showing that high standards match perfectly together with real sustainability. We use natural materials, giving them a new shape without suppressing their unique character and we want people to feel self-love by wearing beautiful pieces of art, making sure the whole process and supply-chain has been valued in the same way.

What are your sustainable priorities for the business?

For us, true sustainability means not only going a single way. Moreover, we see the holistic nature of it, combined with our responsibility, caring for diversity in the same way. We are thriving for merging all of our ideals together; creating beautiful pieces of art without limitations from the very beginning looking at where we source our raw materials, how we can support family business etc. Our constant goal is improving ourselves and our products persistently. There are plenty of techniques and materials to discover and to develop, working and caring continuously for all people involved, going with open eyes through the world. As we think that true sustainability and real art does not follow standardizes seasons, we decided against seasonal collections and discount sales. We value our timeless models, the whole supply chain and everybody involved. Our current collection “diversity” impresses with materials such as up-cycled paper, natural cork, pineapples fibre, the usage of 24ct. ECO-gold (nickel and plump free), animal-free glue and the above-mentioned threads out of recycled PET bottles. All our components (beside the pineapple fibre material which comes from the Philippines) are sourced and produced in Europe, especially in Italy. We always aim to produce local, reduce long transportation and support family business and craftsmanship.

How has your strategy developed as you have grown?

When we started in 2017, we had no idea how many possibilities there were to be discovered. We knew about sustainable materials, but we could not stop ourselves asking for more: more sustainability, more development and optimisation of the full chain. We got completely involved and motivated that we can do it, even though there were many who doubted us. Nearly three years later we are proud that we stuck to our ideas and never stopped working.

How challenging has it been maintaining your eco principles?

We never doubted our own principles, even when we faced rejections like “that is not profitable for us” and “come back when your quantities are higher”. It was a challenging time, it still is. We always need to keep ourselves motivated.

What have been your biggest milestones and triumphs until now?

One of our biggest milestones is the final result of our collection “Diversity”. It proves that there are so many possibilities worth exploring. These days, thanks to the Friday-for-future demonstrations raising awareness for our planet, people do really want to make a change, being more and more interested incorporating true sustainably into their life, according to their given circumstances. And certainly, proudly being brand marked by Eco-Age and awarded with the German Design Award this year.

What have been the main prohibitors to your progress in building a sustainable business?

Generally, the anxiety of the unknown and potential risk that prospective partners could face during the entire process. It is tough to find new solutions and keep everybody happy and motivated. There were so many uncertainties and what ifs standing in the way, but if you have passion and motivation then you will make it.

Do you feel pressure from your costumer to be more eco?

Yes! And we are more than happy about it! We do not consider it pressure as such, but more a constructive dialogue, staying curious and conscious.

What advice would you give to anyone hoping to launch a sustainable business?

It is absolutely worth doing it! Stay authentic, be prepared for many “nos”, and let them motivate you even more. Listen carefully, be conscious and remain firm. Start learning patience, but at the same time fight hard and fair for the right steps. And last but not least: You want to sell your product so use your own taste like the salt in the soup, but have a close view on the market and demand.

Everything is possible!

 

Learn more about humour.noir.

Read more from our Bringing Business to Life series. 

Bringing Business to Life: humour.noir