What’s your name and the name of your organisation?
Maija Nygren, I am the founder and creative director of Almaborealis.
Please describe your business
We offer circular economy and craft education products and services through clothing, allowing children to participate in and create the material environment they occupy. Our product range consists of starter sewing kits and modular pullovers, dresses and beanies which children can assemble at home, and extend through growth spurts. We also offer practical workshops in clothes making, from knitting your own scarf with a knitting machine through to hand knitting the discarded contents of a wardrobe!
How is your business circular?
Longevity and no waste is the core of our designs. By designing (or deciding!) to extend the life cycle of clothing, it is necessary to put in place a strategy that eliminates the premature disposal of clothing, and instead encourages ways to keep the garment in use for longer. The clothing range we offer is designed to be extended along children’s growth spurts, repaired and re-used infinitely. Due to the single origin fibre type we use in our products, wool, it lends itself to be recycled and put into a new use once fully worn through as a garment and we are excited to begin testing some innovative, fully circular (recycled and recyclable) fibres as soon as these become commercially available.
Our workshop models offer opportunities for clothes users to engage with clothes making. This can ignite an emotional bond between the maker and the user, leading to a desire to keep the garment for longer. Our hand knitting workshops turn unwanted clothing, often with complex blends of fibres that are difficult to dispose of in a safe way, into new, creative interpretations of many old clothes, giving them a new lease of life in a playful way.
Why is it important to you to adopt a circular model?
Through motherhood, I have become more passionate about preserving the natural resources for future generations than ever. I believe that adults have a responsibility to put in place systems that enrich the living environments of the next generations, allowing them to thrive as the next leaders and thinkers of the earth. Our Convertibles clothing range is designed to be circular, to demonstrate a full life cycle of a piece of clothing, allowing the wearer to learn about care and re-use of clothing. As we have set off to share this knowledge through our product range, it is vital to support this ethos throughout our wider operations, such as the material choice for our products, location of manufacturing, through to the packaging and labels we use.
What’s been the best thing for you about going circular?
Almaborealis was founded in 2018, so we are still quite young. Establishing a company today meant that we got sort of a head start and designed our operations to be circular from the beginning. This company was in fact set up as a children’s clothing research lab, to explore avenues for creating growing clothes for a growing child, using non plastic derived materials. Being a circular business makes sense. Like a natural gardener, who closely observes the natural cycles of plants to maximise the yield, a business can thrive through a no-waste approach. Eliminating waste and innovating to re-use raw materials at each step of operations, from manufacturing through to user experience, one can run a business knowing that the environmental footprint created is kept to a minimum, and therefore allowing the product to have its full positive impact on growing generations.
What’s been the biggest hurdle?
We are still at the early stages of the company and we have many hurdles to come I suspect! Getting the product range off the ground is our challenge at the moment; establishing sustainable production methods whilst meeting the growing demand and maintaining our ethos; producing locally and with biodegradable raw materials without cutting corners is a lifelong journey! Having our mission statement – why are we doing this and why it is important – pinned on a wall helps to navigate this vast sea of obstacles and keeps us on our toes.
In 3 words, what motivates you to grow the Circular Economy?
Children, Earth, Future