Lili Dreyer is a Woman4Climate mentee from the London cohort in 2018. As a graduate with a Masters degree in environmental science and sustainable entrepreneurship, she is passionate about addressing the huge problem textile waste poses to creating a better and more sustainable planet. Her startup, WAIR, creates upcycled sneakers from textile waste and with the help of the mentorship programme is now in the prototype phase. Here Lili reports back from a recent trip to Portugal where she visited potential manufacturers.
The primary mission of my Portugal trip was to find a suitable manufacturer that will enable WAIR to transform the idea of upcycled shoes made from textile waste into a commercial reality.
This was not an easy task, since the practice of upcycling textile waste into shoes is new territory. Finding a shoe factory with a strong focus on sustainability already excluded many options before even considering this. Our ambitious proposal to create shoes from waste left us with a very limited number of suitable candidates.
Changing the status quo is never easy, but we believe that if we can get our foot in the door, making textile waste upcycling scalable and profitable, we could truly revolutionise the fashion industry.
Despite our limited choice, the factory visits went extremely well. This project will require some significant changes in the factory’s current practices but they are very keen to partner with us in this journey. Crucially we have been able to proceed to the next step – creating the first samples.
We are now much closer to WAIR being a reality, although there is still a lot of work to be done. Our next key goal is to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign by the end of the year; this will pave the way for us to launch “for real” in spring 2020.