Clothing that is 100% traceable, with which you can keep a good conscience and additionally do something good for people in need. That sounds almost too good to be true.

Oliver M. Schmieder, founder of “Ethicted”, has just launched this. 
Have fun reading the interview!

How and when did you come to the idea to start your own business?

I have always been very entrepreneurial. The desire to focus my workforce primarily on the common good developed a few years ago. At that time I lived in Vienna  near the “Crypt”, a social institution of the Austrian Caritas, in which homeless people receive (vitally) support. I quickly realized that there must definitely be other ways than only the NGO fundraising, with which you can support these people.

What was your motivation and vision at that time?

At that time I was concerned with enabling people who, for whatever reason, lost touch to our society, to live a more dignified life. With a social business model that works for you and me as an afterthought: I buy a garment that I need anyway and a person in need automatically gets a much needed garment as well. As the garment rooms overflow with T-shirts and sweaters, but underwear is in short supply, we donate much-needed underwear – in the summer comfortable and long-lasting shorts & panties, in winter long functional underwear, which keep the body warm in the long nights on the street.

Were there initial challenges?

In addition to the search for suppliers, which luckily worked very well for us with two partners in Baden-Württemberg and Switzerland, one of the biggest challenges to date is communication. The “1 + 1 principle” is not familiar to consumers yet. Surprisingly many think they would pay for two underpants, but they only receive one. Our offers are calculated to pay for the quality you ultimately receive. We use organic cotton according to the world’s highest bio-cotton standard (bioRe sustainable cotton) and guarantee really fair working conditions along the entire value chain. The products are skin-friendly and ecological, yes, even CO2-neutral thanks to the compensation work on site in Tanzania and India. We do not produce the donation ourselves, but buy it from existing overproductions in the industry. So with us you get a panties from organic cotton for 19.99 € and a homeless person at the same time a long functional underpants for free, which would have gone in the regular sale for more than 25 € on the shop counter. But put it all in a concise advertising set!

What does a typical day in your life look like today?

In the initial phase, it was pretty haywire, because it sometimes was just too much weight on my shoulders. That’s why I now start at half past eight after a light breakfast in the office and spend there usually a regular working day until 5 pm. At the moment I’m still mixing in almost everywhere: in the warehouse, in the studio, in online marketing and in finance. It’s never getting boring for me. Breaks are very important, which is why I usually leave my job for lunch time. If the workday is over as planned, I take the time and walk the five tram stations home. This helps to switch off before I switch on the stove in the Patchwork Family at home and start watching series with my girlfriend. 

What are the key skills and qualities to succeed in your industry?

You should be able to talk to people and also want to do that. I do not necessarily mean an extroverted appearance and certainly not 20 Instagram stories a day. I can not do that myself. But you should engage in dialogue on a regular basis, with partners, customers, employees and anyone who wants to have a constructive conversation.

Do you have a secret of success?

Puuuh, that’s difficult. I think it’s really important to constantly question yourself and your work. Are you staying true to your principles? Do you go to work? Does your work make you happy? This is the only way to ensure that peak performances can be called up daily. As soon as the job returns you with less energy than you put into it over a medium period of time, consequences should be considered.

I really like to think happy and productive in the shower every morning. The head is free, absolutely nothing distracts. Also, the feeling of having made a decision has something cleansing. So I start my new day full of motivation.

How do you / does your business earn money?

We sell underwear.

If you could start again, would you do something different?

The topics of transparency and fairness are increasingly becoming buzzwords within my industry. Unfortunately, not everyone who writes these words on the flag really works for it. Especially in the B2B sector, ie among the companies themselves, far too many are still much further away from a common cooperation than they would like to admit. You can achieve much more together!

If you could start again, would you do something different?

The answer to this question will probably not benefit anyone, but: Yes, I would do a lot in a different way. Not because I made wrong decisions. But with the current state of knowledge I would certainly have made even better decisions in the past. That’s the nature of things – afterwards you’re always smarter. But I do not regret any decision.

What do you advise others for their lives and careers?

Only salt water when it is boiling.

2 comments
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