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5 Minutes With…Tanja Kliewe-Meyer from Like a bird

“It must be clear that one needs strong stamina in order to be able to withstand the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship.

Sustainable fashion brand ‘Like a bird’ produces fabrics made from roses mixed with BSCI-certified cotton. Cellulose is taken from the rose stalk to make its viscose, which is used to make its textiles. Rose petals are used as a dye to colour the materials. Producing conventionally-grown cotton uses a vast amount of water and pesticides. Yet, Like a bird maintains that making its material from roses has a positive impact on the environment by using less water and chemicals.

Here, Bio Market Insights’ Liz Gyekye catches up with Tanja Kliewe-Meyer, founder and CEO of Like a bird (@bird_lifestyle).

Liz Gyekye (LG): What’s the story behind your Like a Bird?

Tanja Kliewe-Meyer (TKM): Unique fashion in limited editions and sustainability throughout the supply chain. In addition to certified suppliers, high emphasis is always placed on the selection of resource-saving materials. “Like a bird” is the lifestyle of the future: With respect and appreciation of the resources of people and nature, the collection and the associated company philosophy are constantly being further developed. Carefully designed fashion collections are produced, which consist of primarily natural fibres. The collections are rounded off with targeted use of recycled materials. Like a bird is made for the modern, ecologically-conscious woman who seeks uniqueness and stands for freedom, naturalness and femininity with her unmistakable style.

LG: Before managing your company, what did you do?

TKM: I studied clothing technology at the University of Applied Sciences Niederrhein in Mönchengladbach, Germany. After finishing my studies in 2000, I spent the next ten years working in five companies. Two of these companies went into bankruptcy and one closed.

I worked in a variety of roles after finishing my studies. These roles included a stint as a design assistant and working as a designer twice.

At German womenswear brand Gerry Weber, I ended up in product management. I was able to extend this function with my last employer. Here, I was responsible for product and sales. After I gained extensive experience here, I branched out into self-employment. From the very beginning, my goal was to bring social, ecological and economic issues into a healthy balance, as I had previously neglected the social and ecological aspects of my previously held permanent positions.

LG: What’s been the biggest challenge in growing the company?

TKM: Basically, my greatest challenge is my primary goal – to bring social, ecological and economic issues into a healthy balance. Incidentally, this has remained the case to this day. I see it as a positive challenge, on which I have been able to grow personally year after year.

LG: What’s coming up next for your company?

TKM: In November 2019, I re-established the company structure, as my long-time business partner left the company. Consequently, the team now needs to make sure we can maintain healthy stability.

These include several parallel projects:

1) The placement in the market as a sustainable flagship brand;

2) Temporary and permanent investments in marketing; and

3) Complete repositioning of sales through agencies, etc.

TKM: What advice would you give to someone else looking to launch their own company/product in this space?

LG: In any case, it is advisable to take a close look at the market to see what already exists. With this info I would then recommend to develop the company concept in such a way that it clearly distinguishes itself from everything that exists. However, if the idea already exists in another form, it should be given a unique framework and a completely different marketing strategy. In addition, it must be clear that one needs strong stamina in order to be able to withstand the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship, especially in the first unknown phase after its foundation. It is also important to pay attention to your own resources and to find your own work-life balance.

TKM: What’s your favourite sustainable / bio-based product?

LG: I am going to have to be biased. It is definitely my favourite dress from our FriendlyRose collection. It is a summer dress in which the product is made of rose viscose in combination with cotton. The special feature of the product is that the viscose of roses consumes much less energy and water in the manufacturing process than conventional viscose and, in the end, the complete product from this unique fibre composition is compostable after wearing it. This means that the dress is then 100% back to the biological cycle without residues.

If you were interested in this bioeconomy story, you may also be interested in the ones below.

Read: Devan unveils bio-based products which control body odour.

Read:  Tanatex Chemicals unveils new bio-based microencapsulation garment finishing tech.

Read: Ikea and H&M group collaborate on ‘chemicals in recycled textiles’ study.

Read: Nettle fibre producer and lab-made leather maker pick up top award for helping to make fashion sustainable.

Read: Fashion industry to undergo “transformative” decade in bid to improve its sustainability.

Read: Bio-leather made from apples – one of the 15 start-ups aiming to change fashion.

Read: 5 Minutes With… Mattias Bodin from H&M

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