Lifestyle

Willa in the office GREEN

Entrepreneur Willa is dusting off boring sustainable fashion

Rachel founder Rethink Rebels

Hi!
I’m Rachel
You have gifts to
change the fashion 
industry and my job
is to help you
using them.

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We have seen eachother briefly during the soaking wet Climate March in Amsterdam last March. She walked as an activists, and screamed with slogan such as “Let’s get rid of CO2!”. This is not a marketing thing that you often see. Or greenwashing. This is real. This is genuine. Willa is a fighter. She speaks about diversity, feminism and has a sustainable mindset. This woman dares to stand up for those who can’t, fights climate change, is a mother of beautiful son Eloah and oh she also runs her own company W. Green Agency; A sustainable Branding & Communication Agency. Who is this power woman? I want to know more about her and decide to meet her. This is not that easy because she is very busy, as you understand…


Willa Stoutenbeek en Rachel Cannegieter

On the morning of our appointment, she is already enjoying the sun at Coffee Bru in Amsterdam East with a latte. Fabulous as always. I quickly sit down, order a nice fresh juice and fire the first question directly at her.

Sustainability & Fashion, how did this ever start?

“Sustainability has always been present. From the age of nine I was a vegetarian and activist. The real problems started when I went to high school. I just didn’t fit in, the system I didn’t understand. I had ADHD and a high IQ, but school did not succeed.

willa stoutenbeek klein

When I was older I started working in fashion, an easy choice, because both my parents were also working in this industry. I was always the odd one, politically left-winged, with my father making the link between Vivienne Westwood and me. In 2010 I got myself a job at Spice PR, a fashion phenomenon with brands like Nike, Vogue, Bijenkorf, Bulgari, Iris van Herpen and more. This agency is one of the most known in the PR world. After a few years I decided it was time for something new and started working as marketing manager for BlueBlood, the Amsterdam jeans brand that went bankrupt at the start of the economic crisis. I lost my job because of the bankruptcy and got burned out. But in the end it came out much better.

W. Green agency office
Willa in the office GREEN

At the age of 27 I started my own sustainable branding and communication agency, now almost 10 years ago. Quite a daring step and ahead of the time. But here was really my heart “.

What do you want to achieve with W. Green Agency?

“My passion is to lift sustainable brands to a higher level. If we get this space, we can deliver something we have done for Yoni, Afriek or Ace & Tate, for example. For example, we saw that Yoni, a brand that focuses on organic tampons, could express itself much better on social media, so we tackled that. The photo below clearly shows that Yoni is much more than a tampon or simple sanitary napkin, there is really a story behind it.

Yoni organic period products

We are being approached because people think this branding, brand identity, visual identity, positioning and holistic approach are right and want that for their brand too, that’s pretty cool.

W. Green agency stands for Ethics & Aesthetics. Both the inside and the outside of a brand must fit properly. Sometimes this collaboration works better than the next. The more confidence we get from a brand, the better it can come into its own. And you know it’s not about my own ego, I do this for ‘the greater good’ because everyone has to see that sustainable brands are the best choice.

Can you tell more about Ethics & Aesthetics?

Sustainable brands focus more often on the ethics, so on the inside, but much less on the aesthetics, the outside. This is actually due to the fact that the ‘outside’ is perceived as too superficial. However, a consumer decides in a split second or they trust the brand and want to buy it or not. This choice of whether to buy the product is often made based on the outside, and then people zoom in deeper.

Ethics & Aesthetics W. Green agency

Often sustainability has something dusty and if something on the back is 100% sustainable, but has not been designed well enough on the front with aesthetics, then it is by definition not sustainable, because it is not sold. So if your brand is something for which there is no market, you are wasting resources, energy, water, etc. and then it is not sustainable by definition.

A PR agency has a showroom. What do you think about this?

“Years ago showrooms still had a good function, but that really disappeared. In addition, a showroom is simply an extra room that you have to heat and maintain for just a few visits a week and that is not really sustainable.

Moreover, I would like to add that the W.Green Agency does not have the image of a PR agency. PR is really a last layer and with our agency we go much further and deeper. We really want to help build a sustainable model and thereby make sustainable choices for the brand. This goes from office level, business model to branding and communication level. Think of the printer that you choose, the energy supplier, etc. With us it is certainly not a last “PR” layer that we throw over it, no we want lasting impact. ”

How do you combine work with a family?

“It is sometimes tough. Motherhood and W.Green Agency are both a full-time job and finding a kind of balance without sacrificing anyone is a challenge. Eloah, of course, always comes in number 1, but clients also should be given the attention they deserve. In addition, I am very critical, both in work and daily life. That is sometimes difficult for others but also for myself.

TEDx Amsterdam Willa Stoutenbeek
Willa and Eloah

For example, our son Eloah does not eat sugar, meat or fish, and I started giving vegetable snacks instead of fruit snacks. Look, if at some point he decides to eat it all, that’s fine, but I just think about everything very well and read about it. Then I make a choice, and then I stick to it and I am not easy to leave the field. If people around me think differently about this, it can be difficult for them. That is why I express myself with these 3 words Sweet Enfant Terrible. ”

What do you think about the future of the earth?

“I’m not sure. My hope is still there … “, Willa is emotional, and so am I. Fortunately, we have sunglasses on.” I hope we realize that we are now ruining the earth for future generations and that its occurrence is extremely urgent. As a consumer, you no longer have to hide behind apologies that the government or companies should just do it. But we really have to take action ourselves. ” Noticeably the combative activist comes up again.

Fashion Shouldn't cost the Earth

If you have to wait for companies or governments you will be disappointed. Only a few companies take this responsibility and the Netherlands is roughly 14th in terms of sustainability, while we are in 3rd place as the richest countries. I find that bizarre. We are now trying to “live life” for our son. As an optimist, the glass is always half full, but I hope we will make a good choice with the next election. Let us come into more contact with ourselves, know our place in the ecosystem and ensure a sustainable world. Not only do it for yourself, but also for future generations. This allows us to enjoy this world.

When I walk home I feel that I am touched and inspired. Willa, this sweet enfant terrible is a beautiful person. It is pure and real, without frills or layers. I think it’s nice that she dares to be vulnerable, honestly admits that she’s not quite there yet and that she sometimes has trouble making sustainable choices. Like me. Then I realize that during this conversation Willa has taught me that becoming more sustainable is a process and that it is great to grow step by step more and more …

Do you want to know more or do you have questions for Willa or Rachel? Feel free to do that in the comments below. Do you see mistakes? Let us know! Do you want to stay informed? Sign up for our Newsletter or social via Facebook andInstagram.


Sustainable Vogue March 2018

Fashion magazine Vogue favors sustainability. You too?

Every day we receive a large portion of negative messages from fashion brands. Advertising constantly tells us that we do not have enough of the right things, that we are not thin enough, not young, not beautiful, too old, too fat, too ugly, too poor, too unfashionable, too incomplete, or that we are completely out of fashion. We are constantly fed with the feeling of; “we just aren’t enough”.

We are constantly fed with the feeling of; “we just aren’t enough”.

Well you know, I have had enough of that in the meantime, you too? Enough of discrimination, lowering self-confidence, enough of ‘just not right’, enough of not being part of it (where actually?), enough of plastic, enough of dirty oceans and seas, enough of (having to) consume too much, but how should we do it better actually?

Clare Press, known as the first sustainable editor at Vogue Australia, comes with a positive sound to take action in a good way. She tries to inform people about sustainable fashion and how we can change that ourselves.

FashionforGood Clare Press Rethink Rebels

At the end of 2018, Clare Press was in the world’s first sustainable fashion museum, Fashion for Good in Amsterdam, for the European launch of her book “Rise & Resist, how to change the World”. 

Amsterdam is the first to choose a sustainable fashion museum; Museum Fashion for Good. 

Fashion for Good (Rokin, Amsterdam) was opened in October 2018 and offers everyone the chance to learn everything about the history of good fashion, sustainable products, and the latest fashion innovations. Stories behind the clothes that you wear are told here. In addition, it shows you how you can take action and have a positive impact on the fashion industry. This makes the city of Amsterdam the first to choose a sustainable fashion museum.

Clare Press Nimue Smit FFG Rise and Resist Rethink Rebels

Photo: Giullia Squillace

During the launch, Clare says positivity is the only way to convince people. Ultimately we all know somewhere that we are not terrible. We are intrinsically good and we really do not want to pollute the environment with our t-shirt, let alone propagate child labor or exploitation. But where do you start as a consumer? Shouldn’t the clothing brands themselves just take action? “People want sustainable solutions,” says Clare. “And this opportunity is a huge one for designers and companies.

There is more attention for sustainability on TV  Fortunately, more attention has recently been paid to sustainable fashion in programs such as “Genaaid” on NPO3 and VPRO Tegenlicht “Future Fashion Pioniers”. But how are you actually going to start? How can you tackle this problem? When I interview Clare, she says that it is useful to always choose your own passion as the starting point. Remember what you think is important.  “I really care about the environment and it’s important to me that a brand focuses on that,” Clare explains. “Everyone has their own moral compass and ideas about what is good for them or not. It’s such a big problem that people can feel overwhelmed and then lie on their backs and do nothing anymore.” According to Clare, the most important thing is to start small. Think about what motivates you the most and then you can expand that more as a consumer. Want to know more about this? Then read the following article; These are the tips for a more sustainable life. 

Actress Emma Watson also prefers sustainable fashion In addition to TV, nowadays more and more actors, celebrities and the likes are opting for sustainability. In March 2018, for example, actress Emma Watson (known from the Harry Potter series) contributed to Vogue Australia, which was all about sustainability.

Sustainable Vogue March 2018

This sustainable edition of Vogue created the new (and at the time non-existent) job of Clare Press: Sustainability Editor-at-Large Vogue. Clare says about this “I am a bit of a special case, it is not common for a journalist and fashion editor to write about sustainability. It is my job to keep the conversation about sustainability as much as possible, and to build a sustainable future, “says Clare. Of course, I could not resist asking Clare about her tips for sustainable shopping, here they are:

Clare’s tips to shop sustainable:  

  • Download the “Good on You” app for free. Super handy, fast and gives you all the (sustainable) information you want to know about your brands and clothing. In addition, it also offers alternatives when your own brand scores lower than hoped.

  • Check small, sustainable brands on Instagram. Search on hashtags (#duurzamemode or #sustainablefashion).

  • Buy locally and support good products. Do not buy less if you do not want to, but support the sustainable brands (eg The Faire East, Miss Green, Project CeCe).

  • Visit the Fashion for Good museum in Amsterdam

  • Listen to the various podcasts Wardrobe crisis of Clare

  • And of course read the book Rise & Resist

Clare Press Rise and Resist and Rachel Cannegieter

Do you want to know more or do you have questions for Rachel? Or maybe Clare Press? Feel free to do that in the comments below. Do you see mistakes? Let us know! Do you want to stay informed? Sign up for our Newsletter or follow us via Facebook and Instagram.


Polluted river China by Fashion Industry

Fashion Fix Above Everything? Tips for a sustainable lifestyle

In recent years we have been bombarded with the word sustainability. Sustainable food, sustainable clothing, sustainable fairs, sustainable care, sustainable sports, sustainable work, and sustainable living. But what is it anyway?

We are the first generation to experience the impact of climate change, but also the last generation that can do something about it.

As it is now, we, as consumers, have to get to work

As it is, we, as consumers, have to get to work and think with each issue: “put your money where your mouth is”. If you are aware, there will naturally change. I personally experienced it a few months ago. I came to a halt from my busy and always hurried life.

Sustainable lifestyle life and family Rachel Cannegieter

Before I became aware of everything, I wanted to make a career, raise two sweet children, and I had an enormous drive to get up that ladder as much as possible.

Which ladder am I actually trying to climb and at what price is that really?

In my world, the fashion industry, it seems as if I’m struggling hard every time and then asking myself; where and for whom do I actually do this? It’s this undefined love/hate relationship with Fashion, I assume. Unfortunately, I rang the bell too late and I ended up in a sort of burnout status. In my stressed status, I thought about life. Am I still happy with my job, am I on the right track? Who was I again? And what do I actually want to give my children? If they see me go to work so unhappy, they never get my work ethos along. Is that the example I want to leave behind? And of course, there is also the complete exploitation in my fashion industry. What do I want to give to the next generations?

The textile industry is a very polluting industry

Rana Plaza, that disaster in Bangladesh in 2013, in which more than 1100 women and their children died, because the building did not meet the requirements for textile production. Do you remember that? Did you know that there is still slavery in the clothing industry and that people have to work extremely long days, sometimes 24/7, days and weeks in a row for our must-have outfit or Fashion Fix? The textile industry is a very polluting industry. 10% of CO2 emissions come from textiles. For comparison: 2.5% CO2 emissions come from the aviation industry. We then use around 10,000 liters of water per outfit (jeans + shirt) to produce it. In addition, I have not even talked about all the chemicals and dyes to make our jeans so special. These are namely dumped in nearby rivers. This way, the entire community can see which trendy color is “in fashion” in the West.

Polluted river China by Fashion Industry

The above is just the tip of the iceberg. But of course, you can now ask yourself why we still produce nature polluting and why the working conditions in the factories are so bad?

If we continue with our consumption this way there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050

This is such a typical case of the “pointing finger”. The fashion brands blame the consumer, the government blames the companies and the consumer blames the government. My father always said if you point a finger at the other, three points at yourself. So time to get started. If we continue to use our consumption in this way, there will be more plastic in 2050 than fish in our oceans (by weight).

Tips for a greener and more sustainable existence:

·         Pay and save greener: investing, saving but also daily banking can be done at greener banks/investment companies (eg Triodos)

·         Vote for green: use your voting rights and vote for people in politics who speak about climate change.

·         Buy plants: it absorbs CO2 and you get more balanced + you become more energetic with the color green.

·         Reduce your own CO2 footprint: buy solar panels, take a bicycle, take the bus, go carpooling with your colleague or opt for an electric car. But also separate your waste, do your shopping with cotton bags (also for fruit/vegetables), become vegetarian or eat less meat.

In the meantime, I have also started to live greener and more sustainably. I have introduced five different waste bins. That seems extreme (if you come from one or two), but trust me, it is not so bad once you do it (and you’re surprised by the number of single-use plastics).

Then I went to clean up waste after a wonderful day at the beach. A real hashtag has been created for this on Instagram: # 5minutesbeachcleanup. After the beach season

I thought; hey we have to do this in our neighborhood. You know; create awareness of roaming plastic. So we did just that. Because of this you are not only enjoying the walk, but you are also doing something good for fellow human beings and nature. Below a photo of the garbage disposal in our neighborhood. It was a fantastic evening.

Neighborhood clean up together we make a better world

Honest? I’m not there yet. I am still on my way and I would like to take you on a journey in my “greener” and more sustainable life without this having a goat wool socks image. In the end, I am still the fashionista who loves fashion. Sustainable fashion.

Do you want to know more about a sustainable existence or do you have questions for us? Feel free to do that in the comments below. Do you see mistakes? Let us know! Do you want to stay informed? Sign up for our Newsletter or via Facebook and Instagram.