Emma Harding, Partner at Scott Ideas
Cora Hilts, Co-Founder & CEO of Rêve En Vert
Samata, CEO of Red Carpet Green Dress
A Promise To A New World x Emma Harding
Sometime between when the murmurs of COVID-19 began circulating and ultimately contracting Coronavirus and subsequently putting in emergency contingency plans for safeguarding the business, an Instagram ‘meme’ / image (I’m not sure what the best way to describe it is) was shared with me. It was supposedly an extract from a chapter of a book “The Eyes of Darkness” published in 1981. Page 555 “A Chinese Scientist carrying a diskette record of China’s most important and dangerous new biological weapon in a decade. They call the stuff Wuhan-400”. Another book or the same book, I don’t know, also predicted that “In 2020, a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments. Almost more baffling than the illness itself will be the fact that it will suddenly vanish as quickly as it arrived.”
With very little else to show any sign of the virus relinquishing, I hung on to that last sentence for quite some weeks. In many ways, I am perhaps naively still hanging on. In situations like this, the human race tends to cling to any glimmer of hope. The reality is, we’re nearly four months into a global pandemic, a global recession is about to hit us and the devastating effects to human life around the globe make me want to rewind, or fast forward, I’m not sure which, to a place far removed from that which we live right now.
But amongst all of this, as we all sat at home, many of us reunited with family for a period of time we’re unlikely ever to experience again, clinging to that glimmer, I realised that perhaps this was the world’s way of re-setting. As I strived to think of ways to innovate our clients, was the purpose in fact NOT to innovate? Is indeed the purpose to slow, to reflect, to stop?
As someone who defines their year by the countries they visit, the wildlife they see, the experiences they do, I am as guilty as the next person for becoming all too consumed by the consumerism; the flights, the outfits, the gadgets… the carbon footprint!
Who knows when this will end, IF it will end, but what I am fairly certain of, is that whilst I remain nervous, sceptical, clinging to that glimmer for all of this to end, we also have an opportunity to change the world. My fear is we will all too quickly forget. As such, as a reminder to myself, and what I hope will inspire, encourage and influence others, I asked my friends, my colleagues, my family, those who motivate me most to make a pledge.. A Promise to a New World.
This was my ask to them: As our human world closed, the natural world re-opened; the canals ran clear, the skies went blue and the birds sang louder than ever before. Amongst all the uncertainty and fear, we saw and talked of opportunity for a better world – a caring world, a thoughtful world. As our human world slowly begins to re-emerge, let us not forget the changes and promises we made. We are all too quick to forget. Please join me in making and writing your promise (personal or professional) to this ‘new world’ that awaits us.
So please take these pledges, let them inspire you, let them influence you, let them change you. Once you have reflected, once you have processed, it will be time to innovate once again; towards a cleaner, better, caring glimmer.
Emma Harding, Partner at Scott Ideas
Over the last few years, I have been challenged within myself and externally over the question of whether to have children. I won’t say it will never happen but my (our) decision comes from a place of deep guilt and exasperation for the way the human race are mistreating this planet. As someone who has travelled the four corners of the globe and is happiest when in crystal blue waters and surrounded by true, raw nature, when the world went into lockdown, I suddenly felt an overwhelming responsibility to protect this planet. I am pledging to educate myself and to be fiercely committed to the protection of the world’s wildlife; from plastic, from poachers, from toxins, from waste, from man-provoked disasters. Otherwise, what will there be left to share with the next generation?
Cora Hilts, Co-Founder & CEO of Rêve En Vert
The thing that has struck me the most in lockdown is the clean air in London – I used to never run in the city as I knew the pollution levels were so high it did me more harm than good. It worried me all the time. My promise is to do all that I can to help with keeping our carbon emissions as low as possible. With my business, Rêve En Vert, we are switching to bicycle couriers for our deliveries in London and using renewable energy sources in the office. For myself, I will no longer be taking short haul flights that are so tempting here in Europe. I will combine my business in the States with my personal trips home in order to make use of my long haul flights, and I would like to embrace train travel and the idea of moving slower and more thoughtfully through the world and will encourage all my employees, friends and family to do the same.
Whitney Hawkings, CEO and Co-Founder of FLOWERBX
I promise to spend more meaningful time with my family. Being with my family daily, hourly, day-in and day-out, and really taking the time to listen to them and hear them has been the biggest gift of this lockdown and has made me realize how fast we were all moving before and missing so much of what matters.
Misha Nonoo, Founder of Misha Nonoo
This time has cemented my beliefs to run and operate a business with honesty and transparency. I’ve always felt strongly about empowering women and how important work can be to building one’s sense of self and self-esteem. My pledge is that this now focuses on those that are less fortunate than ourselves and building community around that.
Lauren Cuthbertson, Principal Ballerina at Royal Ballet
I’ve dedicated my whole life to being a ballerina; it comes with the scrutiny of being a critiqued figure and my own ‘brand’. Whilst it brings me so much joy, it has been a life defined by heavy restraint and discipline, striving for perfection. Falling pregnant during lockdown has required physical and psychological acclimatizing; whilst I have gained so much, it’s also brought a sense of loss: of control, of routine, of my previous identity. Being able to hide away in recent months to process these thoughts has been hugely comforting, and I am emerging with a strong and refreshed mindset. My pledge is to promote people to abandon any personal pressures to conform to society and industry conceptions. I want to do this to allow for diversity and opportunity within the arts, but also to allow me to shift the overwhelming focus from me to a positive and selfless focus to my baby, my colleagues and other artists.
Matilda Goad, Founder of Matilda Goad
The world changed for me in more ways than one during Covid-19; I became a Mother. As I juggled motherhood and lockdown, I realised the need to take solitude in nature. My promise is never to take that for granted; to savour the subtle daily changes.
Lucy Williams, Influencer
One thing I’ve really learnt during this time is what slowing down really feels like and how liberating it can be to not incessantly feel the need or pressure to fill my diary with social plans and travels. I love travelling and I love being social, but I think sometimes it can become a box to be ticked rather than a real pleasure or joy. I’m really going to focus on quality rather than quantity in the future, whether that’s to do with travel, the clothes I buy or the time I spend with others. It’s not about rushing around seeing everyone or going everywhere, it’s about giving your energy and time to the things that really matter and being wholly present and grateful for them. I really hope we all continue this slower pace of life in some form in the future and really cherish the little things and quiet moments rather than searching out the next big thing.
Samata, CEO of Red Carpet Green Dress
My pledge is to ensure that our work in the sustainable fashion world always champions global sustainability. Our limited view of who brings sustainability to the world is damaging our efforts to have real impact. We don’t include the affected communities around the world in our dialogue, strategy or actions and I believe that is why we are moving so slowly as an industry. My pledge is to always ensure that the right representation is taking place so that sustainability as a word will ring true for those who hear it and those who say it.
Susannah Taylor, Beauty and Health Editor and Grazia Wellbeing Columnist
For a long time now a fake beauty ‘ideal’ has been emerging, one where women seem to want to look the same, buried under piles of makeup and caterpillar brows. I have watched as young girls are distorting their faces and bodies with so many fillers that they no longer look like the person they once were. I have found it all very strange, quite horrifying and very alien. Is the selfie to blame? Perhaps so. As a beauty and health editor, it is my mission to champion being unashamedly you – we need to get back to being confident enough to look like ourselves, be healthy enough to show our own skin and happy enough to be totally unique. My mission is to focus on holistic beauty, one that’s about how you feel and act as much as how you look. I want engage with authentic brands who care about our world and use nature as a force for good. We are part of nature after all, not separate from it. It’s time to get back to our roots.
David Prior, CEO and Co-Founder of PRIOR
What living through Coronavirus in NYC has revealed to me much more than ‘my inner journey’ or reflecting on my own consumption habits (they’ve changed too), is inequality. It has laid it bare. I’m across from the Bowery Mission and I have seen the breadline get longer and longer everyday. I don’t want to live in a city, country or world that turns a blind eye to that, so it will be a pledge to have PRIOR recommit to supporting businesses in the travel industry that have supported their staff and community through this and that pay a living wage.
Penelope Chilvers, Founder of Penelope Chilvers
After a quarter of a year in lockdown, where many good experiences have been enjoyed, my dream is that a new, natural cycle will emerge in the western world where we return each year to a Spring time of ‘Back to Slow’. ‘Back to slow’ would be an annual reset, giving us time to think, and be in the moment; a period set in our diaries where the pages lie practically empty of travel, where we focus on family, and attempt to live a cleaner, more meaningful life; whether that means a focus on self-sufficiency by growing your own vegetables and a reduction to our consumerist habits, or a pledge to shop local and look after your nearest and dearest. Just think, three months each year could reduce world pollution by a quarter.
Charlotte Rey, Co-Founder, Designer and Creative Director of Campbell-Rey
With the world feeling overwhelming at best, I sought a pastime that felt good and not frivolous, so I began to garden. Having planted seeds, I cannot explain the feeling of wonder for my little hardy radishes emerging out of the ground. In central London no less. So my commitment is this – to spend more time closer to nature, big and small. To read more about it and to learn more, and to live my life more in line with it.
Poppy Sexton Wainwright, Co-Founder of Asceno
We commit to having an open and honest dialogue about our successes and our challenges as we move forward on our path to being a fully sustainable brand. We believe it is our responsibility as a consumer business to produce as ethically as possible. It will not always be perfect, but we are committed to making the necessary changes to reduce any negative impact. From our fabric selection to our production techniques, we are as responsible and sustainable in our choices as the industry currently allows, and promise to strive to improve. We are working to eradicate all single use plastic within the business (and at home!)
India Whalley, Director of The Edition 94 and The Dot Project
I promise to be conscious of my actions both personally and professionally and to sell more vintage pieces at The Edition 94. Not only are they sustainable, they have a story and a history that travels from generation to generation. They help us learn about our past and reflect on our future.
Ryan Lopes, Creative Director
As we continue on our journey of awakening and deep accountability during our current climate and pandemic, I promise to continue to use my voice and my knowledge, to my best to support, uplift, and amplify within the identity of one meaning, throughout our creations and endeavors. I will continue to activate my knowledge, resources and privileges for Black people. I am willing to learn and promising that we are equally as willing as our beloved neighbors, to treat, protect and respect ourselves to transpire for one another. It is important to check-in, question all forms of wellbeing, and reevaluate our needs because after all, we are everchanging, adapting and etiquette beings. I promise.
Zoë Jordan, Founder of Zoë Jordan
Personally, I pledge to give myself and my family more time as it’s by far the most precious commodity we have. To resist “squeezing” it all in and to give myself space to be creative without looking for “results”. Professionally there is still space for newness and innovation in the fashion industry. Last year I shifted the model of my company to working exclusively direct-to-consumer, lessening risk and minimising waste by reducing the seasonality of our product and collection sizes. Now, my focus is to create considered product in small batches, delivering at a time that actually suits our customers. Today and moving forward, I’m excited to pass more value to my customer as well as listen to what people actually want and when, from fabrics to shapes, engaging them to be more involved at an earlier stage in the design process. I also promise to encourage people to be confident in prioritising comfort alongside style.
Laura Normanton, Executive Editor, House & Gardens
Lockdown has taught me to live with less (clothes, accessories, make up, luxury foods) which has been incredibly refreshing. Going forwards I intend to try and reduce the amount I purchase, I can live with less and I would like to share clothes amongst family and friends. I also intend to cycle as much as possible; I have recently got a bike and I’m loving the exercise.
Sophie Howard, Founder of By Pariah
Sustainability has always played a huge role for us. At least 50% of the gold that is used in our pieces is recycled from unused jewellery; the other 50% is sourced from the government. The goal is to work with 100% recycled materials within the next year. Personally, my idea of heaven would be having my own vegetable garden. I try to only eat locally produced, in-season vegetables and fruit.
Marlies Verhoeven, Founder & CEO The Cultivist
To consume less and more intentionally…. I had gotten so used to Amazon instant deliveries that I didn’t realize how much waste I created, not only through packaging and shipping but also the items itself. I’ll be shopping more mindfully going forward, and going local and with small businesses where I can.
Suzy Amis Cameron, Author and Founder of One Meal A Day
My life’s mission is to share the ‘One Meal a Day’ (OMD) movement with the world – By swapping one meat and dairy-heavy meal a day to a plant-based option, you will nourish your body, save your health and save the planet. I have made the OMD pledge along with thousands across the world, and together we are protecting biodiversity, slowing climate change, preserving our oceans, restoring our forests and improving water quality – all by committing to a plant-based diet.
Lucia Daily, Founder of Seren
I promise to take time for my family, friends and for nature; to take time to re-consider how we do what we do, ensuring that decisions are made with the best intentions for our planet and the future of our children. I promise not to be swept away by the fast pace of life or the forever turning cogs of supply chains and endless passing trends. To take time to question ‘traditional’ industry demands and re-discover the beauty and creativity in all that we do. Most of all, I promise to take time to live.
Alexandra Carello, Luxury Communications Specialist
This moment in time has made me think a lot about slowing down and about why everyone now has the need to live so fast, fill their time with so much. Even in lockdown people have felt the pressure to be ‘busy’ and very productive even when we were literally given a free pass to do nothing! I want to live more slowly and make my time less fractured. If your email can wait, let it wait. So that the things that can’t wait like my daughter and my family and life can thrive. On a professional level, I have made a promise only to represent brands that are upholding the highest human, animal and environmental welfare standards. On a personal level, learn to sew; finally my clothes won’t be full of safety pins and I can look after those treasured pieces better.
Nicola Tulloch, Founder of Nix Tulloch Consultancy
I promise to simplify my wardrobe and to shop more consciously. We moved in with my parents up in Scotland before lockdown and I packed the bare minimum thinking it would only be a few weeks. Eliminating the choices of what to wear each day has made life simpler and made me realise how little I need. I have seen a greater transparency and eagerness to support others within the Fashion Industry during this time, which I really hope remains and something I promise to lead by example on.