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Esther Knight

Female Founder Spotlight: Esther Knight

19 July 2021|Female Founder Spotlight, Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder

Female Founder Spotlight: Esther Knight
Female Founder Spotlight: Esther Knight

Esther is the Co-Founder and CEO of Fanfare Label, a sustainable womenswear brand. Originally launched in 2018 under the name ‘Fabric For Freedom’, Fanfare label produces pieces that are unique and sustainable whilst trying to make positive and progressive change within the fashion industry. The brand works with human trafficking charities to eradicate slavery from fashion supply chains as well as homeless charities that empower women and teach them sewing skills to get them into work. Fanfare’s collections are made from either sustainably certified or recycled materials including Linen OEKO-TEX and GOTS.   We were delighted to catch up with Esther to learn more about her entrepreneurship journey.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

I’ve had about 10 years in the fashion industry itself, working my way up since university. It all started for me in my first job as a buyer and seeing the deep problems within the industry that cannot be ignored. Moments like the Rana Plaza disaster and the responsibility of being a buyer with regards to every aspect of the supply chain changed my outlook on the industry. 

I wanted to create a fashion brand that offered modern contemporary fashion without compromising my ethics, especially after everything witnessed as a buyer and throughout my time working for high-street and designer brands. That is how Fanfare came about. 

How did the idea come to you for the company?

As I mentioned, having had so much experience within the industry and both high-street and designer brands, it was a cumulative effect of learning and growth that lead to the idea for the company. I knew that something had to change. Knowing something had to change, I set about working on a solution, combining my years of industry expertise with my desire to promote sustainable fashion with eco-conscious practices. 

Female Founder Spotlight: Esther Knight
Female Founder Spotlight: Esther Knight

How did you achieve awareness?

The first collection saw huge success and went on to be featured at London Fashion Week September 2020. That awareness on a physical (albeit online last year) level as well as through our own socials and community building curated an awareness for the brand. It is through a media presence that we really took off. 

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

Through developing a community and partnerships, we have been able to grow and expand the business to what it is today. Using recycled materials rather than new limits costs, providing additional services such as upcycling consumers pre-owned jeans ensures that we are able to provide a unique experience that reduces the environmental impact. 

What are the key successes?

Some of our key successes is the recognition of the work that we’ve done within the fashion industry, a reflection of our sustainable aims and processes within every aspect of the supply chain. We have recently been named a finalist in the Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards 2020 & won the German Sustainable Design Award 2021 as well as being featured at London Fashion Week this season. 

Female Founder Spotlight: Esther Knight
Female Founder Spotlight: Esther Knight

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

This year has been undeniably tough for individuals and businesses which was definitely a challenge at the beginning, but I feel that over time people’s ties with community and support for smaller businesses has flourished. The value of creativity and skill has shone through and we have been able to overcome the challenge of the pandemic. 

What are your plans now/for the future?

The future of Fanfare is a bright one. We’ve got London Fashion Week planned and new collections coming out. We’re optimistic that coming out of lockdown will provide the opportunity to speak at events in real life which will continue to have an impact on educating people with respect to fast fashion and consuming more sustainably. 

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

Don’t compromise your ethics in order to be successful. It is clear that brands starting up now are understanding the importance of sustainability within every aspect of their supply chain from the very beginning of the process and that is so important in developing a sustainable brand for the future. 

Can you share you top tips for entrepreneurial success?

– Don’t be afraid to collaborate within the industry. Sharing sustainable strategies, data and technology will enable faster recovery to a more sustainable fashion industry and you never know what either entrepreneur will gain as a result. Non-profit organisations have teamed up to create “Fashion Conveners” a global partnership to collectively implement action across the industry with the shared goal that a sustainable industry is a more a resilient industry.

– Communicate directly with consumers through social media in order for brands to direct their own narrative. Creating that relationship with consumers is so important to developing a brand’s identity. 

– Stick to what you believe in, but don’t be afraid to adapt. Having started Fanfare before Covid-19, it was clear that we had to adapt to reflect a changing market but the one thing we will never compromise on is our ethics and sustainability, despite some hardships. 

– If you can give back through your brand in some way, do. Part of entrepreneurial success are the positive changes we can make to others’ lives as a result of our business, and not just our own. 

– Take your time. Developing a brand is a process and after 10 years’ experience within the industry, I’m still learning on the job as an entrepreneur of my own business. Don’t rush into things and the final product or products will be more refined and successful. 

Female Founder Spotlight: Esther Knight
Female Founder Spotlight: Esther Knight

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most? 

Orsola de Castro (https://www.instagram.com/orsoladecastro/), Livia Firth (https://www.instagram.com/liviafirth/) and Ayesha Barenblat for founding such progressive platforms with respect to the Fashion Industry and educating others; Fashion Revolution, Eco Age and Remake. Kerry Bannigan is founder of the Conscious Fashion Campaign (https://www.instagram.com/consciousfashioncampaign/) and is hugely influential in accelerating global fashion industry action in support of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN; something every brand should be working towards. Samata Pattison (https://www.instagram.com/iam_samata/) is inspirational with her work to encourage sustainable fashion at the Oscars and turn the red carpet green. 

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

Jemma Finch said recently that ‘being a feminist must include standing up for the women who make out clothes’ and that couldn’t be more true in our current climate. Fashion Revolution recently reported that 71% of people trapped in modern slavery are women, with the fashion being the second highest risk category for slavery within the supply chain. The quote has propelled some of the core principles of Fanfare, to create fair work whilst championing change. 

We choose to work with female-run small businesses to support women-led initiatives across the country. By keeping our production process local to London, we are able to personally audit our factories on a regular basis, with a knowledge that the people who make our clothes are empowered through our decisions and choices. 

What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?

Instagram & Social media @fanfarelabel

Collection : https://fanfarelabel.com

Newsletter : https://fanfarelabel.com/pages/subscribe

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