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When the love for the planet meets a social drive: a conversation with rho’s founders
Elena Ferrara and Hannah Mayfield – the two minds behind rho – share why they decided to create their luxury loungewear brand, reflect on what the pandemic changed for sustainable fashion and give some advices to those approaching a more responsible lifestyle
Elena Ferrara and Hannah Mayfield had been close friends for over 15 years when, in 2019, they started working on rho. The inspiration for this project came from a beautiful block printed kaftan that Hannah bought and basically lived in during a trip in Sri Lanka. She adored the intricacy and craft of the print and so, as she got home, she texted Elena and they started brainstorming about how they could make pajamas just as beautiful, but that were kind to the planet and could have a positive social impact.
We are an amazing team and absolutely love working together!
“Elena is a sustainability consultant with a background in luxury fashion design, development and organizational sustainability, so she is the creative sustainability nerd behind the brand. I am a coach, mentor and yoga teacher with a background in fashion buying and business, with an affinity for finance and business development, so I take on more of the operational and business development responsibilities for rho” Hannah explains.
From the very beginning rho was founded with the mission to help others have a safe night’s sleep
“This has been at the heart of everything we do. From working with a Fair Trade manufacturer, to donating £5 from every unit sold to our charity partner Oasis Domestic Abuse Service. We wanted to create a product-based business that celebrates the heritage artisanal crafts we love, without compromising on our respect for the planet, and that could also be a force for good.
We want to contribute to a positive shift in the way we consume and connect to the products we buy, educating our consumers and followers about wider sustainability topics along the way” they explain.
Elena and Hannah are currently researching for some more options for the products’ materials. “We are really interested in linens at the moment, but we would like to find something recycled or at least 100% certified organic – harder than you might think for a small brand like ours. We plan on increasing our product range slowly, adding carefully developed pieces which have versatility and longevity at their core”.
We are continually looking for ways to increase our positive impacts
“As we keep growing, we hope to steadily strengthen our partnerships with Oasis Domestic Abuse Service and our manufacturer Mehera Shaw and to embark on exciting projects together. Recently, we have also partnered with One Tribe to protect 5 trees in endangered rainforests for every subscriber of our newsletters”
To me, sustainability is being aware that everything we do has an impact on the planet and its people
“We are all connected to one another and the earth, so we should do our very best to keep our negative impacts to a minimum and seek to have as much positive and restorative impact as we can through our lifestyle choices” Elena explains.
“For me, this takes various form: from being vegetarian to consuming carefully and consciously – buying (a lot) less and mainly from small and/or sustainable businesses; from continually educating myself on sustainability issues to raising awareness through our platforms and through my consulting work” she continues.
The pandemic highlighted how connected we are to our fellow humans all over the world, and to our home: planet earth
“It also threw the unfair and unhealthy power dynamics between big brands and their factories into the limelight for everyone to see. We hope this caused an increase in empathy for the garment workers and an increased desire to know where our things come from, how they are made, what they are made from, and who they are made by.
Consumers are demanding more transparency from brands and looking for more responsibly-made products from brands with integrity – which is great news for us!”
The problem is that, as sustainable products become more popular, also greenwashing becomes more common…
.. this makes it harder for consumers to know and trust that the messages being put out by companies are entirely truthful and it also distorts the perception of what a sustainable product really is” they explain.
So, to someone who is just approaching sustainability I would say: go easy on yourself and remember you don’t need to fix the world all on your own
“Sustainability is a huge and constantly changing field which can be pretty overwhelming at times! Find a specific area that you find particularly interesting and start there, and know that everything you do matters, no matter how small. We need all the help we can get and we need to work together as a team to have the most impact. Look for groups, organizations, or forums sharing your passions and interests and ask how you can get involved” they conclude.
rho is one of the brands that have recently joined Renoon. Discover more about its values on the app, and add it to your feed!
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