(3) What inspires you as an entrepreneur, and how does that come across with your company? I am inspired by the creativity of fashion and the pioneering attitude of my team and many of my colleagues in the industry. At work I am most inspired and motivated when I have the autonomy and means to create teams of passionate people to solve problems, innovate and have large scale impact. I’m known for getting things done. This is demonstrated well at MADE-BY, despite being a small team we have won awards for our impact and we work with some of the biggest and most well-known brands in the world. Our tools including MODE-Tracker and our wet processing tool are also firsts for the industry. (4) What kind of obstacles are you encountering as you grow your enterprise Sustainability in fashion has been a hard sell from the get-go, it was very difficult to get brands to engage in sustainability projects beyond basic compliance in the early days, particularly when the recession hit. We therefore had to segregate the market, engaging with the leaders who recognised the value and also source public funding to run large scale projects to get the rest of the industry aware of the issues and engaged. Once they get engaged there is still a tension as large companies need to be able to demonstrate short term results, which is a difficult thing to do when longer term sustainability and resilient supply chains means investment in the shorter term – and in some cases engaging in pioneering projects that have no guarantee of success. (5) For a company that isn’t technology based, how has a digital approach helped you to carve out a bigger market and acquire new customers? Technology has played a big part in our work at MADE-BY and has helped us to create new tools and services. As fashion is a global business, working with partners such as GTS means that we can connect suppliers and fashion brands, in a way that is simple and quick. Ultimately this makes sharing sustainability information easier and ultimately improves practices.
(6) How is technology helping you to overcome hurdles, and what are the challenges of implementation? We are a small organisation with offices in three countries across Europe but our work is increasingly taking us to new continents. We are now working more and more in Asia and the US, not only on supply chain improvement projects but also running strategy workshops at headquarters. In order to make this cost-effective, we use a combination of in person visits with video conferencing platforms to run meetings and workshops, often with people in multi-site locations. You have to be mindful of time differences and plan the activities well in advance to ensure they can be carried out in each setting and that ideas from all the participants can be shared effectively; preparation and simplicity are key. (7) Do you employ any kind of flexible working, and how does technology fit into this We offer flexible working hours and the ability for our staff to work from home. We are a small team with our main offices in Amsterdam and London so to make this flexible approach work, email and access to a cloud based file sharing system is essential. (8) What kind of technology tools can you not work without? Video conferencing and cloud-based programmes. (9) What kind of technology would help you better compete with larger rivals? I think all of the above along with consultancy know how, help us compete with rivals but combining the MADE-BY GTS, traceability platform with big data systems that can analyse impact at supplier level would be very powerful. (10) Where do you want to take your business in the future? I am stepping down from my role at MADE-BY but I see further expansion in Asia and the US and further tools and add-ons to our existing tools to ensure we continue to drive impact. By Shané Schutte
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