*Read the Spanish version of this interview here.
We wanted to know better about Monoke’s experience in the CBS project and her crowdfunding experience, so we asked its founder Marta Portela the following 10 questions.
- What is Monoke?
Monoke is a sustainable clothing brand that gives life to minimalist garments with the desire to make people aware of the state of the environment and reserving a portion of the price of each item to contribute a donation to animal sanctuaries or environmental organizations, thus involving the customer each time you buy a product.
- What prompted or inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial project?
I was always a person very concerned with the environment, so I try to find items needed in my day to day as ethical as possible.
Problem? I never found that product. If I want a warm garment, what I have more at hand is any multinational that sells you a synthetic product whose production is at the other end of the world and its manufacture takes place in workshops without rights for their workers.
So I decided to create my own textile brand, which meets the needs of people, not only as a nice garment, but is comfortable, warm or fresh, a natural material obtained through organic farming and made by people with decent working conditions (fairtrade).
As for our own waste, it will all be collected and put to a new use, or it will be discarded for composting.
- Why did you decide to give it this name?
Monoke’s name comes from a film called “Princess Mononoke”. From the first time I saw her when she was 7 years old, she marked me a lot, but then I didn’t know why. It is about a girl who was abandoned in the forest and since then gave her life to defend both nature and the individuals who live in it because in the middle of Munomachi Era, the iron industry that was produced by a nearby town threatened the health of this place.
Mononoke looks for the liberation of the forest at the cost of his own life fighting against his own species to avoid the disaster that the human being by his selfishness tries to unleash.
I have always felt this way, and seeing such a clear similarity, I knew that my purpose in life would be to watch over the environment and animals.
- How did your interest in fashion and this sector come about?
All my life I took refuge in my own creations, creating made me and makes me feel calmer, and given that my family is dedicated to textiles, fashion design was the field that most attracted me to be able to wrap my body and that of other people with my own works.
- Why did you choose to launch a crowdfunding campaign?
Because of the need to find my prototype customer and thus be able to meet the costs of the first production of garments of the brand.
- What were the main objectives of the campaign and how much time did you spend developing it?
Promote both the brand and the value proposition I offer as a person. To be able to deal with customers personally and at the same time get to know their opinions about Monoke.
For 3 months I was gathering information, studying other sustainable fashion brands, defining my value proposition well and designing the garments I would use in the pre-sale.
- How did you define the rewards?
As it was a pre-sale, I used the garments as a reward, with a small donation of 10 euros which would consist of acknowledgements, and the largest containing 3 garments and a creative encounter or a custom-made garment made of organic materials.
- What was the economic objective of the campaign and how much money have you invested in it for Photo shoting, Video production, etc?
The objective was to achieve a pre-sale of 50 garments, 25 T-shirts and 25 blouses, to cover their own production and payment of the raw material.
As for the campaign photos, I was in charge of making them myself, but I ordered the video from a professional and it came out for 250 €.
- What happened after the campaign was funded and what do you think were the success factors?
Start production, contact the campaign sponsors and continue promoting the brand in interviews and articles.
The success factors were that Monoke is a very current project with values of real interest to the people of this century, given the conditions of today’s environment and the needs of the people.
- What are the future plans from here, what have you learned from the campaign and what would you say to a person who has just started his campaign?
My goal at the end of this campaign is to continue growing as a sustainable brand, adding new textile products that reduce the consumption of conventional, from jackets to menstrual compresses.
And once I have my brand well established, I would like to have my own textile workshop where I can hire people who are excluded from the labour market, giving them a decent job and new knowledge of both work and the environment.
I have learned to deal with people from a professional perspective; for the first time I have done the accounts of what it was worth to produce the garments and therefore to realise where more money needs to be invested. And finally, thanks to the feedback from other people, I was able to better appreciate the importance of this project.
That even if at the beginning it is hard, it is really worth it because you learn a lot from the market and from yourself when it comes to doing a job like this.
*What do you take with you or what has it brought you to have participated in the Creative Business Studio program?
I entered the course with a simple idea of creating a sustainable clothing brand with alternative designs, but I realized that it didn’t really propose any innovation or bring much to the planet, and it was from the talk we had from the founder of Co-club that I changed the chip, because I understood that the world does not need more brands of clothing, but needs projects that show the reality in which we live and that we must consume with responsibility durable items that we really need and not buy massively without conscience.
Every day I was getting new ideas and learning essential details that today if I didn’t know them I wouldn’t know how to take this project forward.