The local businesswoman wants to educate consumers about child labour and the impact of fast fashion.
Rosa Villalobos has it all--a successful career as country head for Macquarie, she was the first woman to become a certified director with the ILA and serves on several boards.
But something was missing from her life, she tells Delano. “I wanted to do something more for my passion.” While on a long car journey in early 2016 she read about Toms shoes’ “one for one” scheme. She learned more about the environmental impact of the fashion industry and knew she had to act.
Already a big fan of fashion and having become interested in education as board member of the ISL, the Barcelona native decided to combine the two interests. She created Impassion, a sustainable clothing chain that stands again child labour, which launched in spring 2017.
“I give 30 to 40% of the proceeds to an NGO that has a specific programme to fight child labour. Clear labelling on the clothing shows what the money is spent on, for example a school bag, shoes or field trip so that when people buy something, they see the value,” she explains.
Villalobos began with a basic range of T-shirts and polo shirts, which are Fair Wear Foundation certified, onto which are printed exclusive designs from a Luxembourg artist. The price tag is higher than high street prices, but Villalobos believes people will pay more, “because they have bought something that has meaning and will help someone… It’s about making people feel part of the solution.”
Thusfar the project has been well received in pop-up stores and online. Villalobos hopes to expand the range to include skirts, shirts and dresses. And she is committed to the cause--she is on the child labour working group of the UN’s international labour organisation and plans to visit India this year to see the impact proceeds from Impashion are having.
Long-term, she hopes to make more sophisticated garments and rent them under a circular economy service model. “The idea is to buy better but if you want to change, don’t buy, rent it... For me, it’s the way forward,” she says.