Kick Start 2020 finalist BeauTex Designs supplies the hair and beauty industry with sustainable workwear made from recycled plastic bottles and other repurposed materials. Here, founder Brooke Jones shares how she plans to leverage her achievements to date as a pioneer for circular textiles in Australia to lead her business into the future.
4 minute read
Like many entrepreneurs, BeauTex Designs founder Brooke Jones was confronted with one alarming yet widespread issue in her industry: the sheer volume and impact of textile waste on the environment.
She discovered that not only 60% of clothing is destroyed or landfilled within a year, but that workwear is one of the biggest contributors to the issue because of its short average life span. Determined to evoke change and find a better way, Jones set her eyes on the hair and beauty industry, where the turnaround of capes and other work-related apparel is especially high.
The result is more durable, sustainable and bleach resistant workwear made from repurposed materials – a textile innovation solving two problems at once. It increases the longevity of those uniforms and diverts plastic and textile waste away from the oceans and landfill. “Every 100,000 capes that we manufacture will decrease CO2 emissions by 3,000 tonnes and divert 2.2 million bottles from the ocean,” Jones explains.
But despite her firm belief in the idea and some great success, at first, it wasn’t easy getting the business off the ground. Mainly due to a lack of public understanding around the textile production processes for recycled materials. “It was hard introducing the ‘waste to workwear’ concept to people,” Jones says. “They really only cared about the dollar and how much things cost, so a lot of education was needed.”
Yet Jones persisted and her powerful cause soon began to reach likeminded organisations. “We started teaming up with people that aligned with our values and soon found out how powerful the word ‘sustainability’ really was. Things started to blossom from there,” she recalls.
Then, as COVID-19 hit and the future appeared uncertain, Jones decided she needed to look for more ways to spread the word about BeauTex Designs’ environmental practices and textile innovation, which is why she decided to apply for the St.George Kick Start program.
Usually one to work behind the scenes, Jones took a big step outside her comfort zone to fill in the application form for Kick Start – and it paid off. “Being a finalist is an incredible confirmation of the game-changing impact the brand is making,” she says.
Earlier this year, the entrepreneur was already announced a winner of the SheEO Cohort 2020. “These achievements are a great acknowledgement of all the hard work and to be given the opportunity to continue spreading our message and increase our reach is really amazing.”
Jones hopes the financial support and greater reach that Kick Start provides will help her enter the next phase of her business: putting Australia on the map for “waste to workwear” on a global scale.
As for what’s next? BeauTex Designs will continue working with its not-for-profit partners on its mission to increase awareness for responsible consumption and manufacturing, fair work and climate action in Australia.
One of those parters is workRestart, whose mission is to educate and rehabilitate people in Australian prisons in the craft of sewing. With BeauTex, they’re working on a range of sustainable hairdressing capes made from recycled polyester. Once the fabric is produced, it’s sent to workRestart, which employs inmates to support the making of BeauTex’s designs.
“We’re really excited to be working with an Australia social enterprise, as not only will the capes be Australian made, but we’re able to provide business to an important program that helps people in rehabilitation develop new skills they can take back out into the world,” Jones explains.
Eventually, she aims to bring the whole manufacturing process to Australia to help support the local economy with jobs and expand her sustainable workwear offering to other industries.
However, her long-term vision is to create supply chain solutions for everyone by helping other businesses refine their supply and disposal processes. To Jones, it’s one big step closer to creating a truly circular economy within Australia’s textile industry.
Putting it in tenable terms she says: “If a company in the workwear sector, such as hospitals or mining, were to convert uniforms and footwear for 8,000 staff to the BeauTex standard of fabric, 500,000 bottles would be diverted from oceans and landfill, and 68,800 tonnes of emissions would be saved.” A commendable goal if ever we’ve heard one.
BeauTex Designs is a Kick Start 2020 finalist. To learn more about other finalists in this category, visit the St. George Kick Start hub.