Anna Rönngard’s commitment to sustainabilty in the fashion industry is based on her experience in an industry which, hitherto, has taken little interest in the origins of their products.
What’s your story?
I have worked with sustainability in the fashion industry for the past 13 years, the majority of those with the H&M Group. One year ago I started my own business, as an advisor for sustainability leaders within the fashion industry. My passion is to improve and transform the production of fashion; where and how the clothes, shoes, bags, etc are made. Today the fashion supply chain is like a black hole, we have no idea how the material is made and under which circumstances. Helping brands to produce their products more sustainably is what drives me.
What excites you most about your industry?
My industry is the apparel and fashion industry. What is so exciting about it is that there are so many opportunities to make it better. We will always need to clothe ourselves and our children. But today much of our clothes are made in countries far away with little or no legal enforcement. That means that workers are exploited, environments polluted and animals mistreated. Many companies do not want their products to be the cause of this, but don’t know how to change it or make it better. All those opportunities excites me.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
My drive is founded in a belief that I can help others. That my experience and knowledge can help and guide other people that are in a place that I was in a few years ago. That I can make a difference to projects and initiatives that are meant to improve the life of people and the planet. Whenever I feel discouraged, as one easily does running their own business, I remind myself that I am here to help and that my own limiting belief shouldn’t stop me from doing that.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
To show and to practice empathy to others. I used to be pretty self-absorbed and take set backs and defeats personally. I have learned that my life is so much easier when I am putting myself in the shoes of others, and let go of my own hurt feelings. It actually saves me a lot of energy, anxiety and time thinking about things. Moreover, it makes it easier to solve issues and move forward.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I will highlight my amazing brother here. He is a champion of consistency. When it comes to his own business, but also in terms of exercise. He taught me to set a few rules for myself when it comes exercise and it shouldn’t be about performance, it should be about consistency. So nowadays my goal is that I need to go for a run that makes my blood pump at least 3 times a week. And my why is not about some beach season or race, it is to be more productive at work and lead a happier life.
Who inspires you?
- My brother
- Regina Larko
- Marie Forleo
- Tony Robins
Anyone who breaks out of a mediocre job to pursue something bigger than that, regardless of what their circumstances are.
The above mentioned people have helped me in so many ways. Especially when it comes to believing in myself and my ability. And not be afraid about what others will think of me.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
The fashion industry is taking so many new shapes these days in terms of new business models such as renting, subscriptions, mending, swopping, etc. But that is mainly in the western world. It is easy to forget that the consumers in the booming markets of Asia have other preferences in terms of what sustainability means.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Asking for help. Generally, I do not regret anything in my life. Everything I have done has taught me something. Every ditch I have gone into, every conflict I have been in, every missed opportunity I had, have all taught me so many things. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if it wasn’t for all that. But I wish I had had more mentors, advisors, guidance along the way. Not until I started introducing that into my life, did I grow a confidence to keep going, although I am not succeeding at the first try.
How do you unwind?
Reading books, writing my journal, getting enough sleep and hanging out with people I love.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
When it is right, I will feel it inside. And it is ok to try things out and change my mind until I have that feeling.
I started on one path that never really felt right, but when I changed direction, I immediately felt a clarity, a sense of right direction for me.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Everything is figureoutable by Marie Forleo
Shameless plug for your business:
After working in a complex and global organisation in key sustainability positions for many years, having lived in some of the most important production countries, and had the privilege to start my sustainability journey at the grass root, as a Code of Conduct auditor, I have gained a fair bit of experience.
Knowing the ins and the outs of the apparel supply chain, having personally led and managed the roll out and implementation of some seriously complex projects in one of the biggest apparel supply chains in the world sets me up to be a pretty useful resource for you.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links? :
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.