Katharina turns leftover garments into elegant outfits
In this issue, Dr. Green Economy speaks to Dr. Katharina Funke-Braun about her contribution to sustainable projects through her company, limo, which turns leftover shirts and garments into elegant female outfits.
Dr. Katharina Funke-Braun is a trained custom tailor and fashion designer. She has a Ph.D. in Business Administration in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Katharina remembers always being attracted to beautiful and elegant fashion. Later, during the last decade, sustainability got more and more important to her private life as she became a mother. That’s when her company limo was born— that holds an important principle of circular economy together with elegant fashion.
Q. How did your journey to Sustainability start?
A. The fast fashion mentality overshadows the current fashion industry. This means that the garments have a constant short lifetime and most of these garments are thrown away. Statistically speaking, in Germany, a person throws away almost 5 kg of textiles per year, and only a small part of it is recycled. In addition, big brand manufacturers usually burn their overproduction in an attempt to save their brand image. As a result, almost 4 million tons of textile waste are generated in Germany in a year. That's why I started to create sustainable garments through upcycling. For a long time, I was struggling to decide whether to work in the fashion industry or the field of startups and universities. Then I decided to combine all parts of my interest and skills by starting limo. My company is my contribution to fair fashion and offers me the opportunity to combine my passion for fashion, sustainability, and innovation at the same time.
Q. Could you tell me a little bit more about your company, limo?
A. limo stands for less-is-more. We produce high-end, minimalistic, and easy-to-combine fashion for women by upcycling discarded but first-hand materials. The limo essentials are a small collection of high-quality styles, each available in black and white. Our limited-edition styles are made to order and are available in very small amounts of 10-15 items. Our products are sold via our online shop and in a small boutique in Frankfurt, Germany.
Q. What are your current challenges?
A. Currently, limo produces almost exclusively on demand. With the new essential and limited edition line, the company can grow and increase it’s outreach. However, to be able to grow, we will need to partially outsource our production. Therefore, we will start raising money and find low-scale production partners, ideally in Germany or the EU.
Q. How is limo helping us achieve net-zero goals?
A. By using only discarded material from our partner companies and deadstock from the textile industry, we use as few resources as possible. This aligns with the principles of the circular economy. All items are handcrafted in Germany to ensure local production and short delivery routes. A well-thought-out wardrobe is more than one closet full of things that will never be worn.
Q. Do you have some tips for people starting a company?
A. From a professional point of view: Take your time to evaluate the problem you want to solve and understand your target group. It will not only help you come up with a solution that fits the needs of your customers and set up a sounding business model, but will serve as a base for developing your brand and communicating with your customers.
My advice as a female founder and mother: Don’t push yourself beyond your boundaries. There will be times when you must work very hard, but you should never forget to recharge your batteries. I strongly believe that we are more productive and efficient when we take a break now and then.
Q. With the current world situation (war, corona, and inflation), what do you think is the future of the circular economy?
A. Due to the recent crises, the prices for energy and resources are rising for almost all kinds of products. I hope that it will shake up our society in the sense that we start again to appreciate resources and things. Circular economy for me is a means of rethinking our concept of how we use resources. We need to get back to a point where nothing at the end of its life cycle becomes waste, or at least where we can extend the use phase significantly. I think this is only possible after we start building a relationship with the things we use so that we can appreciate them more.
Q. What is the future of limo?
A. Ideally, we will be able to use 100% biodegradable materials eventually. Until then, limo will use resources and materials from overproduction, deadstock, and existing left-over materials to reduce trash.
Note - Green Entrepreneurs are those, whose businesses are working towards reducing environmental impact by adopting the principles of the circular economy. They are featured once a month in this newsletter. If you want to be featured in one of the issues, email us at email@example.com.
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