Collective Fashion Justice Website: www.collectivefashionjustice.org
Emma Hakansson (Guest) Instagram: @hakamme
Collective Fashion Justice Instagram: @collectivefashionjustice
Tony Corrales (Host) Instagram: @tony__corrales
Nōskin Instagram: @noskin.co
On this episode of Producing with Purpose, Presented by Noskin - I catch up with Emma Hakansson, founder of Collective Fashion Justice. Emma is a published writer with two books due for release in the coming two years, and has done a range of work for non-for-profits and ethical brands, including consulting with brands on their ethics and practices. Today, Emma shares on how to become an absolute powerhouse within the ethical business space.
So much achievement in so few years
"I think everyone is going to be best at creating change by using their skills in the best way."
Although age is irrelevant in so many aspects of Emma's work, I felt it was important to highlight early on that Emma is only 21. This is impressive not because of the age itself, but because Emma has achieved in the last 4 or 5 years, what many people would see as a lifetime's worth of accomplishment.
From making bold decisions as a model to only work with ethical brands, to authoring multiple books and working with politicians as part of her mission to ban fur from her home state of Victoria - Emma has a plethora of achievements and projects under her belt, with so much more happening in the near future.
Emma entered the fashion space at 14 when modelling, however, when becoming vegan at 16 progressed into the mindset that it no longer aligned with her values to model for brands that weren't at least doing their best to incorporate ethics into their business.
This was a catalyst for much of the work that would come later, working with brands to try and support them on their journey to become more ethical - contributing to the fashion system that Emma wants to see redefined.
Balancing time and impact
One thing I wanted to talk with Emma about, is the challenge that so many of us face. When juggling a number of opportunities and ideas - how do you apply to focus to make the most impact.
Emma clarifies this for us by dissecting her very clear and concise personal mission.
"The main way I look at things, is - I want to create a fashion system that is completely different, and more ethical. So anything I do, whether it's to do with helping a brand who has those values position themselves better and explain their ethics better, or if it's helping a brand become more ethical, or if it's creating a sustainability report or writing an article. How does it fit in to that goal. I do a lot of things and they can seem seperate, but in my head I see them as this big eco-system, and it all plays a part to this one very specific, but very big goal"
Collective Fashion Justice
During Emma's time working with and producing campaigns for Animal Liberation Victoria, she applied her focus to working on campaigns that revolved around the use of animals in the fashion industry.
"I realised that, if we were going to make real change in an industry that's very driven by aesthetics - an animal rights organisation wasn't the best way I was going to make change. I had to be an organisation that was positioned as part of the fashion industry."
Emma summarises that her main goal with Collective Fashion Justice, is "For fur to be gone completely, for people to see leather the way they see fur, and to see wool the way they see leather."
The inspiration behind Emma's drive
Emma reflects that her Mum gave her the confidence that whatever she wanted to do, she had the possibility to do so. Along with this support, Emma also explains that one of the key things she's done to keep the momentum behind her work and ambition is to not be afraid of leaving behind people who don't support her motivation and drive.
"One of the best things I've done for my work is - leave behind people who think that motivation is arrogance and confuse the two."
With so much momentum gained in a small number of years, Emma reveals that there have been times where her drive was not so healthy and sacrifices were made before developing her ability to prioritise more effectively.
"If we all just connect as people, that's a good thing. For life, as well as business"
Willow Creative Co
Another of the many projects that Emma has founded is Willow Creative Co.
After being dropped from her modelling agency for becoming 'too difficult' when refusing to work with non-ethical products, Emma saw this as an opportunity to connect with brands that had more aligned values and niche down to work exclusively with these brands.
Brand building through PR and Press
Having written for, and been featured in multiple publications, I wanted to speak to Emma about some of the tips and guidance she could give when it comes to getting a brand, or personal brand visibility in online and offline publications.
Having her first article published at 17, Emma began guest posting for publications for free and expanding her portfolio. After developing her network of publications and refining her style she began to write more frequently and in more and more instances, be paid for the work she was doing.
"Just as you want to build your customer base, you want to build your network of people in the industry who are writers, who are editors, and then they write about you. Not because you're paying them to, but because they want to, which is far more powerful."
This segues into Emma telling us about the two books that she is currently writing.
We talk about Emma's break to get this opportunity and we discuss how important it is make the most of the opportunities you have, wherever they come from. As much as drive, determination and hard work will get you far - it's the collaboration, networking and capitalising on the opportunities once they are presented that really makes the difference between succeeding or failing when trying to get your brand, product or message into the world.
The next six months for Emma and Collective Fashion Justice
Emma concludes the episode by taking us through the work that she is doing over the next six to twelve months, including the film 'Willow & Claude' which premieres in July this year, which covers the wool industry in Australia but also highlighting the Australian cotton industry as a more viable, plant based and sustainable alternative.
This film will be released alongside a proof of concept knitwear line, which is made from material that is from the farm showcased in the film to display a transparent and ethical supply chain.
In addition to the books, the work with Collective Fashion Justice continues focussing on fur bans in the city of Melbourne and beyond.
On another project Emma is involved with, Circumfauna, the team are working with the Centre of biological diversity on a report that focusses on wool, and how the industry in the US and Australia impacts biodiversity and species extinction.
To find out more about the many projects Emma is working on, you can find further reading on:
After recording the episode, Emma was kind enough to stick around and model our new Hemp Worker Jacket in Black!