Second year wants his hipster clothing line to change the fashion industry
‘If change won’t happen from the top-down, I thought I’d try to do something from the bottom-up’
A second year lawyer from UEA has turned part-time entrepreneur and found success with his own sustainable clothing line.
Paul Donati’s “Catching a Fish in Norway” brand may have started as a small-time venture but has grown rapidly and now has its own stall in Spitalfields Market, London.
Fashionistas have been drawn in by Paul’s commitment to 100 per cent ethical and environmentally sustainable clothing, as well as his brand’s eye-catching designs.
If that’s not enough to make you want to pick up a tee, Paul has also been donating 10 per cent from all sales to the Nepal Relief Fund following April’s earthquake.
We spoke to Paul to find out more about how his brand has become a hipster’s wardrobe essential.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
When I was travelling last summer I met a guy who ran a successful online business – he made me realise anything is possible in the age of the internet and I really had no reason to give it a go.
As a student I’ve got such little responsibility and such a huge amount of time on my hands I thought I really didn’t have any excuse not to do it.
I thought if there was any way of making a little bit of money without having to get a part-time job, then I might as well do it while maximising its positive impact on other people.
What made you want its production to be both environmentally-friendly and ethical?
I know ethics and environmental sustainability in business are values which haven’t necessarily been the fashion industry’s forte. And if business change isn’t going to happen from the top-down, I thought I might as well try to do something from the bottom-up.
I’ve been into fashion all my life and know many of the ins and outs of the issues it faces. A large number of garments worldwide are produced in sweatshop-standard factories. This could mean 20 hour days for nothing but pennies, to men, women and children.
Catching A Fish In Norway garments have been accredited by the Fair Wear Foundation (clothing equivalent to Fair Trade), the International Labour Organisation, the Environmental Justice Foundation, the Carbon Trust and the Organic Soil Association. This means they are ethical, organic, carbon-neutral, and have even been made using renewable energy.
On top of this, the fabric we use is the highest quality you can find on the market. Hopefully larger clothing brands will see the hugely positive social and environmental impacts of a business like CAFIN, and move toward more ethical and environmentally-sustainable garment production processes.
What advice would you give to other students about starting their own business?
Start it, go for it. You’ve got no reason not to – you’re students, after all. If you can, try and set change and make a difference to the world.
Try not to be too greedy and set yourself as an example to the rest of the world of how to make money with a positive impact for the next generation. You can do it completely for free – you don’t really have any start-up costs if you do your research properly.