RubyMoon: a Social Enterprise For Women Powered by Women

WeWhoDo sat down with Jo-Anne Godden, founder of RubyMoon, to discuss how they transform ocean waste into Gym To Swim clothing and donate 100% of their profit into micro loans for women entrepreneurs globally.

RubyMoon is the frontrunner for sustainable clothing. After 25 years working in the unsustainable Fashion Industry, Jo decided to be part of the solution back in 2010. 

RubyMoon combines the industry’s substantial potential to positively impact the social and environmental state of our planet, with the knowledge that women and innovation are key to a better future. Jo is committed to activate women’s potential and elevate their status in communities where they often don’t have a voice. So far they have helped over 1000 women and their families to find a route out of poverty.

Read our interview with Jo below:

How did the idea for RubyMoon come about? 

Jo: I built a career in lingerie and swimwear and worked around the world with Victoria’s Secret. During this time, I really saw the dangers of fast fashion and I think in the back of my head, I always knew I wanted to start my own business. I remember I visited a factory in China that had been deemed as the ‘model’ factory at the time. It was completely isolated and all the workers lived on the grounds. They shared rooms and had hardly any breaks, and little to no holiday. 

I think this was a turning point of the idea that even the best conditions were still very poor, and whilst some women were living in a world of luxury (and were often the ones buying the expensive lingerie), the other side of the world were being treated so poorly in order to produce it.

At a similar time, I also read two very powerful books: Kristof’s Half The Sky: How to Change the World and Siegel’s To Die For. Both of these texts really struck a chord in exposing both the troubles with the fashion industry and how women’s economic rights were crucial in driving sustainable change. The combination of these two factors meant it was very difficult for me to continue with my career in fast fashion. So in 2010, I started RubyMoon.

Have you noticed any changes in consumer behaviour over the past few years?

Jo:I think the past few years have been really big for climate activism. People are a lot more aware of it now – largely thanks to Sir David Attenborough! It’s funny because when I first started the business, people didn’t really understand the issue of plastic waste or protecting the environment. In general, we are a lot more aware of our citizen (rather than consumer!) impact. 

Having said this, I don’t think progress has been made at the speed it should have been. We should all be doing better! 

If I am completely honest, I started out with the belief that if we give consumers the choice they will choose better. However, I am starting to think that there needs to be more rigorous legislation. I am confident this is happening and I am really happy to see new greenwashing legislation coming into play across the EU and UK.

What advice would you give to brands trying to be more sustainable?

Jo: It is all about transparency. Traceability is at the heart of what we do. We know where our materials come from and where we manufacture them. As a brand, we would only ever work within Europe because of this traceability point, as well as carbon impact.  In the past 11 years, we haven’t changed anything about our business, and my idea is that if you start with the right structure from the beginning, it is so much easier than trying to unravel it. This is why my advice to any companies starting out is to make sure all the components are there from the offset.

I am actually delivering a series of master classes at Sussex University about building a truly circular company. We will be focusing on the fashion and textiles industry and discuss how even some sustainable brands are getting it wrong. For example, brands that focus too heavily on recycled fabrics, but still manufacture in Asia… it feels like huge greenwashing because despite doing one good thing for the environment, you are introducing modern slavery and destroying the positive carbon impact and nothing in Asia is truly traceable. This is troubling to me. Honesty is key, and so is accountability. I think it is good that brands are being held accountable and an element of ‘bashing’ needs to be done!

How has the past year been for RubyMoon? 

Jo: In all honesty, the pandemic has been good for us in the sense that we had a break to focus on how we can make ourselves even more circular. This was a great time to develop and learn as much as possible.  We also launched a membership club, which allows people to participate in our wider mission and community. Part of this is our ten year guarantee scheme, which essentially pledges to make our products more durable.

What is the ambition for RubyMoon? 

Jo: We want to expand our range into accessories, which will be launching next summer. 

On top of this, we are also working in circular economy textiles. We have won two funding awards with Leeds University and St Martins (University of London), and we are excited to use these to create a superior circular economy textile. The overall aim will be to create a capsule collection for the 21st century woman who will not compromise on style or functionality.

RubyMoon is a sustainable start-up member you can find more information here

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