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Nicole Modigh, Sustainability Consultant within planning & communication
Creator of sustainable art/design under different projects, based at Studion Åre
Why did you choose to educate and train yourself?
I truly believe that education is the key to open a lot of doors. I’m dedicated to live, breathe and work with sustainable fashion, and since I live in a small town, work experience in the area is not always easy to find. I constantly have to prove myself and push the companies I work with outside their comfort zone just to show them all the benefits of working with sustainable strategies. But with the Sustainability Fundamentals course, I learned valuable tools to keep on striving for the dream of helping other brands develop towards more sustainable business and productions.
What have the benefits of the training been?
The training has given me a broad and professional view of the sustainability issues and solutions connected to the fashion industry. I like that the course steered the focus towards the solutions and the positive side of an industry so dirty and unfair – this made me both hopeful and full of inspiration to contribute and influence companies in new ways towards more consciousness and sustainability. My brain immediately started thinking of new creative ideas for change. This has given me a competitive advantage with deep knowledge of how a sustainable and fair business is both possible and an effective tool in creating change.
For me, being able to practice this as an online course has been a great benefit. Not only was I able to work at the same time, but I could also prove to people around me that despite the fact that I’m living in a small town, I’m able to get quality education in specific areas. This is not only a win for me personally – it’s also a huge step in more equality between rural and urban diversity.
How do you see your training as valuable in light of Covid-19?
Doing this course during the worst part of Covid-19 gave me the change to develop in a time where the rest of the world was on pause. The pandemic also shred light on many of the issues connected to the fashion industry and social sustainability. It definitely gave an extra layer of a reality check to take the course and at the same time read about how the pandemic was affecting the workers within the fashion industry worldwide. It was shown that many workers were left behind with no security in their contracts. In Sweden, different types of safety nets were immediately cast out trying to catch some of the people and industries that were hit hard by the pandemic. When these types of globals issues hit countries and industries social structures that are not as strong as in Sweden, it makes you realise the importance of also planning how to protect the workers. It is likely that these types of global issues will emerge more and more in the future and it is very important that we already today learn from this situation. We all have to plan for the development in making a change towards more safety and responsibility in all parts of the production of fashion connecting to future scenarios. Amongst many things, the industry has to be able to provide fair contracts for their workers in relation to scenarios that might hurt the production phase or timeline.
How important is leadership when integrating sustainability into your business, and for transforming the industry? What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership to me means having big visions, but also being able to plan for and communicate a big vision in small steps to all parts of the business and involved co-workers. Leadership means steering towards visions as much as it means listening to feedback from co-workers when implementing action towards the actual goal. Leadership is about acknowledging teamwork and addressing everyone in being apart of that future goal.
I believe that sustainability leadership is important for transforming the industry, especially because until now economics and consumption are what have driven the industry forward. Today, we need a new type of business model when striving towards sustainable development in the industry, addressing all parts of sustainability – ecological, social, and economic. We need more circularity, tech development, and more of a holistic view with responsibility in each step of the production. Economic goals, fair contracts and personal development should be planned for in all parts of the production, not only at the top. To develop and aim for a change in one of the biggest and most polluting industries is a huge challenge and in order to do that, I believe sustainability leadership, more awareness, and innovation will be some of the keys.
What advice do you have for other companies planning to engage, educate or train their staff on sustainability topics?
Sustainability is the future in so many ways, not only brands are now being educated – consumers today are starting to ask questions, and people are learning to see through greenwashing. Newspapers and documentaries are starting to show us what’s really going on in the fashion industry. The new younger generation is more and more value-driven and is brought up seeing the consequences of our actions live and direct. As a brand or company, you cannot oversee this anymore.
For brands/companies planning to or thinking about engaging yourselves or your staff, I only have one advice: less planning – more action. Just get started, choose your starting point, and then plan from there. I’ve realised that many companies get stuck in the planning phase and don’t know where to start, and therefore never get to move forward with their sustainability developments. The climate doesn’t have a lot of time, the workers deserve better each and every second that goes by. Use fashion as the powerful tool of change that it is, be a part of a revolution. Of course, it’s sad and overwhelming learning about the industry, and also about your own impact, but it’s also a fun and creative journey with a lot of heart for both the planet and its people.
I feel like the knowledge from this course shouldn’t be rare in companies working in the fashion industry, it should be the base knowledge. Both big and small leaders in the industry should already have this knowledge of what kind of world they are contributing to.
What advice do you have for other companies now planning to get the most of the SFA sustainability fundamentals course and SFA’s services overall?
The course is flexible in the way that you can either take in an intense few weeks or slow during a couple of months. I chose the first way and completed the course within a few weeks instead of dividing it into several months. This worked out well for me as I had all chapters fresh in my head and could easily connect them together, instead of having to go back after a study break. This made me see the bigger picture and encouraged my interest in digging deeper into different areas on my own.
A good piece of advice is to ask your staff who are taking the course how they would like to plan their time, so that they are able to study in a way that keeps them motivated and focused. Also, encourage your staff to take a moment after each step and connect it to your own business, discuss together where they see possibilities for development. Each step is important but sometimes it’s worth listening to your staff and see what areas of the course they found most interesting, and then encourage them to start a project developing that specific subject in your company after the course finishes. Find creative ways of letting the course live on, inspire, and make a change for the better in your company.