Lucie Tailhades tells us about TrendEthics’ empowerment actions for ethnic groups, and in particular women, in South East Asia.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Lucie Tailhades: Thank you for your concerns. I feel I am not the one to be sorry for, as many people have been much more affected than my family and I. These times have been the opportunity to get closer with them, share simple moments together and focus on the present.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded TrendEthics.
Lucie Tailhades: In 2018, I volunteered in Vietnam and discovered the traditional weaving of ethnic minorities! Impressed by this know-how, I was looking for a way to help women develop their local activity and met Marie Van Haecke, who had founded TrendEthics with the aim to empower women in South-East Asia. The story could take a new start!
How does TrendEthics innovate?
Lucie Tailhades: Our company is a nonprofit organization empowering ethnic minorities in South-East Asia, with a special focus on hand weaving. We develop 8 weaving programs in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar for and with 50 women. Together we source sustainable material, create catalogues of traditional designs, then TrendEthics orders fabrics to make unique and trendy pillow covers. We work as a nonprofit organization as a brand to enable women to find a long term market for their products.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Lucie Tailhades: Coronavirus has 2 main impacts on our business. First, on sales, we had to focus on online sales and review our strategy. Second, the production chain takes longer mainly because of transportation and communication issues. We have managed to adapt our way of working and our decisions to cope with these new challenges. Let’s hope we can continue to innovate better to cope with the situation.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Lucie Tailhades: Yes indeed, we had to cancel some sales events and decided to stop our presence in an ethical store in Paris. We took this opportunity to review our business model and structure our communication. More than ever, it is important to have a long term vision and not only focus on emergencies. This pandemic also proved consumers are more and more concerned by the social and environmental impact of their products; therefore, we ought to continue the eco conception of our products.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Lucie Tailhades: We have not started to use new tools but have continued and improved our use of notion, slack, google meets, and airtable!
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Lucie Tailhades: Our competitors are mainstream decoration brands. To stay in the game, we will continue to differentiate our products in terms of design, quality and impact and aim to develop some special collections with other brands!
Your final thoughts?
Lucie Tailhades: Developing TrendEthics is more than a project. It is a real ambition to empower ethnic minorities in South East Asia who do not have the same opportunities as others. We want to enable and promote an economic model for an ecological and solidarity-based transition through sustainable and human activities.
We are convinced that local communities in South East Asia, and especially women, can be actors of sustainable initiatives that create value for the rest of the world. Through their culture, way of life and proximity to nature, these minorities can provide a response to socio-environmental issues.
Did you know that indigenous people represent 5% of the world population but preserve 80% of the world biodiversity (WorldBank)?