Become part of the solution, not the problem: Green Is The New Black
Alarmed by the impact that her industry was having on the environment, Steph was faced with a pressing moral dilemma – to continue on working in the industry that she loved, or fight for an important cause.
To commemorate World Environment Day this year, we speak to founder of Green Is The New Black and host of Live Wide Awake, Steph L Dickson, as she shares her journey on building a sustainable company from scratch, and how businesses like yourself can contribute to a more sustainable future.
“My world came crashing down around me”
Steph started off in the fashion industry where she helped to coordinate and execute fashion festivals in Asia. “It was truly a dream for me as I had always wanted to work in fashion. Life was chaotic but so much more exciting in the fashion industry,” Steph shares.
“However, it wasn’t until I watched a documentary called ‘The True Cost’ that my world came crashing down around me,” she states. “I realised how polluting the fashion industry can be and how I was contributing to the problem without actually realising it”.
“I wanted to be part of a solution, and not the problem anymore”
With that, Steph made the decision to leave the industry and work towards creating a solution that could bring greater awareness to the environment.
Together with co-founder Paula Miquelis, Steph created Green Is The New Black – a lifestyle media and events platform that focuses on connecting brands with people, and educating consumers.
Steph used her prior experience in events management to conduct small meetups and events that ultimately culminated in the creation of the Conscious Festival.
Held annually, the Conscious Festival garners up to five thousand attendees per event and celebrates the best in sustainability – from eco-friendly brands with sustainable practices to tackling environmental issues via talks and workshops.
“We take complicated issues, and break them down into tangible little ‘green’ steps that people can do,” Steph shares.
“There are moments where you question yourself in the beginning”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing at first. Like all businesses, Steph struggled in gaining traction as a new business in a climate shrouded with doubt.
“It was really hard to find the right community who believes in the same values as you,” she proclaims. “They were there though! There was an amazing community of people doing great stuff for the environment – it just wasn’t mainstream; so the biggest challenge in the beginning was really in creating an event that was relatable enough to resonate with audiences”.
Another challenge was the next step to any great business idea – how do you sustain this business and make money? “Pivot, and don’t be afraid to try new things,” advises Steph who shares the importance of staying adaptable in a business.
“Being a festival-oriented business, we found ourselves facing an additional challenge in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she states. “But we adapted and pivoted once again, and are now in the midst of hosting our first hybrid event for our upcoming Conscious Festival”.
“More people are waking up and realising that this is no longer a choice”
When asked to share her opinions of the Green Movement over the years, Steph noted a critical change in large corporations that was largely driven by the younger generation.
“The youth, who are ultimately future consumers, are being very active and vocal about what they want and the changes they want to see” she says.
“Companies are now practicing environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) and being more open to discussions about integrating sustainability into their practices”.
“Businesses for good”
“One trend I’m most excited about is the idea of social enterprises becoming more mainstream,” continues Steph.
Social enterprises are becoming more actively involved in creating solutions that solve some of the biggest environmental issues in the world – but in a way that is also profitable to them as a business.
“And that’s the beauty of it! When businesses realise that we can literally solve some of our most pressing problems but in an amazing way that we can actually make money from”.
“Your business may not survive”
However, with some businesses still being apprehensive towards the idea of sustainability, what advice would Steph give to them?
“My honest answer is brutal. If you don’t start prioritising sustainability and figure out a way to integrate this into the fabric of your company, you will not survive. You may be able to survive the next decade, but then what?” she answers.
“Consumers are getting smarter about their purchasing behaviours, governments are finally catching up in policy regulations and more businesses are adapting to such changes”.
“Sustainability has to be done at some point”
For companies contemplating sustainability, Steph shares that it is simpler to integrate sustainability and make it part of a company’s culture at the beginning than trying to weave it in later when you’re already established. “You’re just pushing off harder decisions later on,” she continues.
When asked about companies who are still wavering on the picket face, Steph reaffirms that consumers are not expecting brands to be perfect.
“However, they should be committed to something. They should be integrating from the onset and have clear trajectory goals of how they’re going to do more,” she states.
“Ultimately, transparency is key. The more transparent brands are in their business operations and goals, the more trust they can build with the consumers – which will inadvertently be a win-win situation for all,” she concludes.
This year, the Conscious Festival is going hybrid for the very first time! Join Green Is The New Black from 23 to 26 September 2021 in its annual Conscious Festival, held both virtually and physically at La Caserne, Paris! Find out more here.
To learn more World Environment Day and how you can commit to a better future, find out here.
Discover more about Sleek’s own sustainability journey by continuing here.
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