03 - Interview with Nicholas Hänny - co-founder and CEO of NIKIN
Updated: Apr 7
Nicholas Hänny, co-founder and CEO of the Swiss clothing brand NIKIN. NIKIN plants one tree for every product sold and tries to make sustainable fashion more affordable. They've already planted over 1'000'000 trees and mostly grew through eCommerce and Social Media Marketing. Nicholas Hänny is a scout and therefore has always had a connection to trees and nature, however the whole topic of sustainability in a business and fashion context has only come into his life with NIKIN.
Nick bootstraps NIKIN since 2017 and actually started with a different mindset and adapted over the time to the sustainability vision. Actually, their customer told them that they don't want to buy their products if everything comes out of China - so they extended from the original idea from "just" planting trees to more sustainable approach in the whole value chain.
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In this episode we also talk about the actions NIKIN has taken to make its whole value chain more sustainable. We go through each step and he provides actionable tips.
We also talk about how to reduce returns as a fashion brand and how to be sustainable but at the same time focusing on growth.
We don't throw away any clothes ... We recycle old or scratched bottles by creating a vase / pot out of them.
We tried to get timeless design with high quality, so you don't throw it away after a year.
Nick clarifies that they are not the most sustainable fashion company in Switzerland, but rather 90% better and they are trying to improve in all aspects. Currently, they are working with ECOS - a sustainability agency - to improve further their goals, values and actions.
We take a deep dive into packaging. NIKIN uses recycled cardboard, no plastic bags for fashion and using sugar cane paper for the tree certificate.
Fun fact - for organic food they use the startup wormup, but too slow to watch them eat :)
We talk about greenwashing - especially towards planting trees as co2 offsetting. This article of BBC provides a good overview - when and how tree planting is really helping the global warming or can be contra productive by
limiting biodiversity due to monocultures
not letting it grow for 100 years to store carbon effectively (rather cutting it after 10 years to create more co2 certificates)
by cutting it down and using little sustainable manufacturing processes
Nick explains that with the organization ONETREEPLANTED, they tried to plant tries for different purposes such as supporting local communities with food, re-structuring river lines, helping endangered species, etc.
Nick defines for himself that sustainability needs to be in balance with social, economical, environmental aspects.
His top 3 necessary changes to get a more sustainable world:
Research Development by private and public organizations - especially in the energy space
More innovation in the sustainability space
Consumer Behavior change - eat & travel more locally
Nick emphasizes that as multi-brand retailer, you have one big choice to make:
Choose your brands wisely and evaluate your products regarding sustainability.
In the end, Nick shares his passion for social media. He talks about how he bootstraps with CHF 5.000 his company to over CHF 20m revenue company by selling primarily via social media.
Interesting links and certifications:
Yes, we are GOTS certified. The abbreviation stands for the Global Organic textile Standard. The certification applies worldwide to the standards applied in the processing of textiles made from organically produced natural fibres. You can find out more here.
One Tree Planted is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. As an environmental charity, we're on a mission to make it simple for anyone to help the environment by planting trees!
Since 1987, the ecos consultancy has been supporting companies, public sector institutions, associations, municipalities, cantons, foundations and public services regarding their sustainable development projects
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