Welcome to our interview series where we speak with purpose-driven business owners and ecopreneurs from around the globe. Every few weeks, we’ll dive into their journeys, learn about their wins and challenges, and the resources they couldn’t do without.
Prepare to be inspired and learn something new!
Today’s guest is Olga Bryukhovets from OSSOM.
Please tell us a little bit about who you are, your background, and what you did before starting your own business?
My name is Olga, I am Ukrainian and around 4 years ago I have moved to Australia with my husband and a 1,5-year-old son. For over 13 years I was working as a model internationally and I was always attracted to fashion. After I had my son Leo I couldn’t find clothing that would fit well, feel good, and will be priced reasonably. So I went to sewing courses and started making clothing for myself. I love the magic of taking a piece of fabric and creating multi-dimensional things out of it. I couldn’t believe myself when I took an old bed shit and made my first pair of pants. Felt a bit like a God (of clothing hahah)!
What inspired you to create a purpose-driven company and how did you come up with the business idea?
As a staying-at-home mum, I had some spare time which I decided to dedicate to my true passion – the creation of clothing. Little by little my hobby grew into a very small business – I have started to sell my clothing at the local markets. I have made a decision to keep it small and natural – only limited editions of garments, only natural fibers, focus on customization, and made-to-order. My main idea was: you don’t need 25 pairs of pants, you only need a couple of great quality and perfect fit ones! Till now Ossom keeps the same values – quality over quantity, a conscious approach to consumption, and of course nature!
In your experience, what are the main challenges of starting and running a green business?
I started my business with $500 as a first investment and obviously my way of business development – it is a very slow way. I was reinvesting money from the sold pieces back to business, did lots of self trainings and was trying to do pretty much everything I can myself (and with help of my amazing husband). Plus when you run a green business – you have a lot more expenses, starting from the fabric price, packaging, and making small runs for each collection. These two factors restrain the rapid development, but being truthful to myself and my clients is a lot more critical for me than growth of my biz.
What is your business mission & purpose and why?
Our mission is to make every human feel AWESOME (Osssssoooom!) Our purpose – to give people the possibility to buy clothing that is sustainable and ethically made with thoughts about the people who wear it and a Planet.
How does your work address societal and/or environmental issues?
For us, climatic change is one of the most important topics. We have chosen to use linen as we find this material the best for the planet in many aspects – it doesn’t require lots of water, no pesticides to grow it, it’s very durable and it’s very comfortable to wear. As well we plant 1 tree from each sale we do (via OneTreePlanted organization).
We remember our origin – as Ukrainians in Australia we try to help as much as we can – we have been fundraising money to help Ukrainian people. For 3 months we have been donating all profits from our online sales to a charitable foundation in Ukraine.
As well we try to help the Ukrainian community in Brisbane. On 25.06.22 we are taking part in the charitable event Fashion for Ukraine – an event focused on raising funds to help animal shelters in Ukraine as well as helping to socialize newly arrived Ukrainian refugees.
What are the most common mistakes you see green businesses make?
Very often we forget to educate our audience. Still, I see that lots of people don’t understand, why it’s not ok to wear polyester or to buy a t-shirt for $2. Green businesses should be advocates for sustainable living and ambassadors of ethical and eco-friendly shopping
Is there anything that you do outside of your business that is driven by similar (sustainability) objectives?
I try to have a sustainable lifestyle and educate my kids regarding it. We have only one planet and it’s our duty to keep it safe and clean so our kids and kids of our kids can enjoy its beauty!
In which area of your business are you struggling the most to reduce your environmental impact?
Shipping has the most impact on the environment and using local supplies and selling to local clients would be my absolute dream!
What’s your day-to-day like?
As I am doing pretty much everything myself my day is a constant run – kids to school and childcare, then cutting, sewing, answering emails during the breaks, taking photos for social media, talking to clients, and then – time to get kids back home!
What do you like the most about the work you do?
I love the power of Transformation. Starting from transforming fabric into clothing, then clothing can change and transform not only the human body, but change mood, self-esteem, and whole approach to life. I believe if people wear good and comfortable clothing that they feel good in – they have a happier life.
How do you grow and scale your business, and what are the main growth constraints and opportunities?
That’s a hard question for me. I am very scared of overproduction and clothing going to landfills, I prefer my business to stay small and deliver an excellent shopping experience to our clients by creating timeless styles that they can wear for years and years. I think that climate change is making more and more people think about the future of our planet and about sustainable fashion, so the green market audience will grow organically.
What green businesses/sectors do you see growing the fastest right now and/or will become mainstream within the next 10 years?
I think the beauty industry will be a main focus for the next decade – from changing packaging to using more natural ingredients.
In your opinion, what are the top skills necessary to be a successful eco-entrepreneur?
Empathy, love for nature, sharp mind, and creativity.
Any “lessons learned” or advice you can share with aspiring or current green business owners?
Don’t try to be “for everyone”. Find your specific client and follow your heart.
What inspires you every day to wake up and keep going?
The passion for making a difference in people’s lives and doing something good for humanity.
OSSOM is a young brand created by Ukrainian designer Olga Bryukhovets who is based in Brisbane, Australia. After being in Fashion for 12 years as a model and working in over 30 countries all around the world, in 2018 Olga decided to share her passion for good clothing and accessories by starting her own brand. Olga’s idea to create beautiful designs for everyday women was born with her son Leo when she had a great deal of time to think about her future. In her search for lovely natural fabrics and fashions to make women beautiful at affordable prices, Olga started to create clothes for herself and her friends. Working solo from home was also a way to be sure to have precious time to spend with little Leo.