Anew studios is a boutique sustainable production and sourcing consultancy based in Hong Kong. KNO decided to collaborate with Anew in order to reach more suppliers and organisations also pushing the boundaries on supply chain transparency.
To celebrate International Women's Day, we sat down with Anew's female founder Sharon and our own founder Marianne, in order to discuss some of the opportunities that come with collaborating in the industry.
How did you both meet?
Marianne: We connected over Instagram in Fall 2021, realising we had common connections and mutual interests. We shared the same goal of meeting more factories directly and shifting the focus away from brands. With Sharon’s expertise and knowledge of working with factories, it was an obvious match!
Sharon: A coffee date in Central then grew out of our Instagram conversations. As a fellow female entrepreneur in Hong Kong, I wanted to see if there were synergies between our respective companies. It was quite serendipitous as it was the right time to join forces to do more good in fashion based on where Kno Global was going.
What brought Anew Studios and Kno Global together and what’s on the horizon?
Sharon: I love that Kno Global is focused on humanising the supply chain, empowering workers to voice their perspectives in a safe, anonymous way to encourage more honest and transparent conversations with factory management. By introducing the Kno Global platform and its technology to more manufacturers, we can facilitate true transparency in the supply chain. I want to empower manufacturers and give them the proactive tools in preparing themselves rather than being inactive, waiting for brands to ask them to tick the boxes. We’ve had several calls in the past couple of months since we officially collaborated, pitching to manufacturers and brands.
Marianne: Collaboration speeds up the pace of change, particularly with social and sustainability goals. By working together, we can reach more factories quicker and ultimately the people involved in the production cycle, whether it is the workers or consumers.
Looking to the future, hopefully we can have more calls with pioneering factories that recognise the business value of doing sustainability and ethics right—seeing it as an opportunity to grow their business whilst also reducing cost on the labour turnover side.
Why are partnerships important to the industry and how are you better together?
Marianne: What makes our partnership so valuable is that pioneers attract other pioneers. So by knowing you I get to meet more people like you who are also pioneers, and you know they are going to get it, and that is gold.
Sharon: Joining forces as two companies can bring new, fresh perspectives that help our companies grow. If something is great for the industry, why not share it with more stakeholders?
How do you redefine collaboration?
Sharon: When we talked about working together, it wasn’t motivated by monetary considerations but about creating change. Doing the work first and seeing what comes out of it, then defining the monetary part. Sometimes things cannot be easily measured initially and you need trust to collaborate. You try it out and see if you can work together. There are times when you just have a gut instinct about people, their missions and values. I’ve operated in that sense. In first meetings, I always have this gut instinct about people and I know if I want to continue working with them and build the relationship or not. I have trusted it throughout my career and it has paid back in so many ways.
Marianne: It’s like a give and take. You assess whether you want to build the relationship, as it does take time and a conscious effort. My frustration is that sometimes these collaborations get stuck at the meeting stage for months on end, constantly trying to get the right people involved. Perhaps because we are both proactive and decision makers, running our businesses, we quickly were willing to take risks, jump in and be open to learning new things. It’s this openness that is missing, a willingness to actually collaborate that makes a difference. That’s what we have proven by just getting started, because with collaboration you can’t just talk about it like a theory—you have to act on it.
Can you each tell us something you admire about the other person?
Sharon: I give kudos to Marianne for working at a factory in China sewing trousers as part of her journey, going from being a customer to creating the platform for Kno Global! This is really a platform built by a former worker for workers at a grassroots level, rather than having a bird’s eye view of the situation from a remote brand’s headquarters.
Marianne: I respect and admire the fact that you have jumped from working on the brand side to taking the initiative to change the system. That’s the similar thing between us, trying to change the system for the brands so they don’t have to go down the same unsustainable route. It requires stepping out of the company in order to create those systems. You could’ve easily stayed where you were and continued complaining—I meet a lot of people who do that and are unwilling to jump out and create change. It takes so much bravery to strike out alone, start your own business and get the right people.
We need role models like yourself, and more examples of businesses like ours partnering together to show that even though it is scary doing that alone, you don’t have to be completely doing it alone, and there are others like you. It’s quite rare that we’ve met, but hopefully it will happen more often, and more people can meet and realise they share so much in common, and it is okay to collaborate. It’s kind of demystifying how collaborations can happen on the ground, because we’ve both had experiences of being on the ground. We know what it takes—the blood, sweat and tears that go into it—but we are willing to do it.
Thank you to Sharon from Anew Studios for taking part in this interview. For more information on Anew Studios please click here.
To further support women's Day, KNO are hosting an online webinar on 24th March, details as below:
To register and reserve your spot click here