Upcycling Fashion Designer Dena Simaite // Founder of NOUMENON
“Sustainability is all about feeling beautiful inside and outside.”
What sustainability means to you?
Sustainability is all about feeling beautiful inside and outside. I would say it is even a lifestyle in general. You can find it in every aspect of your life, from the clothes you wear, to the product you use to wash your dishes. Whenever you eat or buy something it can be everywhere! Sustainability to me is an holistic approach to life.
How did you end up starting an ethical fashion brand?
I was first surprised how little we would learn about sustainable practices during my fashion school years. Then later, I started to work for a non-sustainable fashion brand and despite being a nice experience, I could totally feel the job was not really in alignment with my ethical values. I have also become a vegan during that same period of time. I can really say that all those factors ended up leading me to start my own sustainable fashion brand.
Who are the people who inspired you the most to keep going?
Stella Mc Cartney definitively inspired me to keep going. I remember seeing her beautiful organic and fair trade collection in a store in the South of France. I was blown away. Then some other discoveries such as the Minimalists documentary - which is about living a more meaningful life with less - inspired me to lead a more conscious and sustainable life and business.
What is the single major no-go in your business practice?
If I had to name one major no-go only, I would say that I never work with producers, and suppliers that exploit people or animals. Thats it!
How do you choose your suppliers?
I choose my suppliers by doing extended research about them. It is absolutely time consuming but also absolutely necessary. To go through the process I go to trade shows and really ask questions about the production. One more important thing to me is also to commit myself to visiting the manufacture not once but many times.
How did you come up with the idea of the upcycled coats?
The upcycled coats story is a pretty original one. We were looking for some type of garments that could be upcycled into clothings but could not find something really interesting. After some research we stumbled upon a post on an e-commerce platform that caught our attention. It was featuring a sofa company that went banckrupt and as a consequence was selling out all their non used fabrics stock. We found the pattern and the material really compelling and decided to buy some of the supply, but still had no idea what we would create out of it. The result ended up being a collection of coats!
What do you want to achieve through the creation of your brand?
My goal is to see vegan and ethical fashion clothing become almost mainstream and not a taboo anymore. As an example, we don't intensively promote on the fact that our brand is vegan because we think it should be the norm. It would be amazing to be part of a Fashion industry where we do not have to say anymore that the clothes are vegan. On a business side, we see ourselves expand in more countries and have our own store someday.
One last thing you want to share about your journey as an entrepreneur?
Yes I would love to share a bit more about my experience of building up the right team for my business. Finding the right fit can be very tricky at first but my advice to everyone is to persevere. I noticed when you truly start feeling you have the right concept and you keep following your own path, then the right people come to you. That is when the magic happens!