1. Dear Barbara, I am very pleased to be able to introduce you to EMERALD BERLIN as part of our Female Founder Stories. Feel free to tell us a little about yourself and your company.

Dear Lisa, thank you for allowing me to be part of your Female Founder Stories. As you said at the beginning, I am the founder of EMERALD BERLIN. EMERALD is a social startup that I founded in 2018. For us it’s all about “social storytelling”. If we have to keep it short, we always say that we do influencer marketing for social projects through impact-related products such as statement fashion.

Before I founded EMERALD, I had already worked in the fashion & lifestyle sector for 10 years. I always knew that I wanted to do something of my own at some point. But it was also very important to me that I could gain experience in advance on which I could build. Knowledge has always given me security. My mother always says that as a child I ran two steps, fell and then only ran again when I was ready to run. I think that describes my character quite well.

I come from a very large international family. Almost all of my (German) mother's 9 siblings married internationally. In my family there are Spaniards, French people, and besides me, even more Italians and Pakistanis. My family has a very close bond. Loyalty and reliability always come first. This has always given me a lot of support. Above all, it taught me that all of our differences and peculiarities make us unique. Back then, after the Second World War, my grandmother came to Germany on foot as a displaced Sudeten German. My grandfather spent the war hiding in his parents' barn. Such stories and the stories of my aunts and uncles were always omnipresent with us. That's why I try to remind myself as often as possible how privileged I am and how lucky I am to have grown up in such a safe time in a country like Germany. Even if we rightly consider the current COVID19 period to be uncertain. I've always been aware that not every child is lucky.

I've been donating since I was a child and consciously started donating regularly every month when I got my first permanent job. But I know from my friends that I'm pretty much alone with this. This also becomes clear when you look at statistics on donation behavior in Germany. Since 2005 alone there have only been half as many donors in Germany. This is essentially because older people, who are much more inclined to donate, are dying off and too few young people are coming.

Marketing has changed fundamentally in the last 10 years. Instead of watching TV, we constantly look at our smartphones. No matter where we are and no matter what we do. The cell phone is always with you. And thus also platforms such as Instagram. Instagram is an extremely positive platform that thrives on people admiring and, in the worst case, even envying other people for something they supposedly have. Even if you know that a lot of it is set, the pressure is still enormous for many people. NGOs lack this positive content because their topics often do not fit the common Instagram topics. With our work we want to create this important content and create visual anchors for social media that help create more understanding of social issues and thus permanently increase young people's willingness to donate.

2. Impact Fashion - what does that mean?

We invented the word at some point when it came to reducing our business model to one term.

We use fashion (and now other products) to create social change. So we are absolutely not a classic fashion label and we want to be understood as such.

For us, (social) history always comes first. Our products are, so to speak, the transporters of these stories and give people the opportunity to make these stories visible and to carry them with them. Almost as a constant reminder. In addition, the story behind each product can answer the question “Cool sweater, where is it from?” be told again and again. We love that instead of just saying a brand that has no meaning whatsoever.

3. What do you look for when looking for new projects/NGOs?

At the beginning I tried to choose topics that I would find exciting myself. It was particularly important to me that the topics differed from each other and that they were easy to understand. Our shop works like an awareness platform. With us, everyone should have the opportunity to find the topic that is close to their hearts. Back then, the influencers who supported us chose products from these projects that they wanted to support. There are now many of our own influencer collections where the influencer basically consults with us and we then work together to find a social project for them that suits them perfectly. We have a catalog of criteria for selecting projects.

1. Development cooperation instead of development aid: We want projects that can support themselves in the medium term and bring about real changes for those affected. We also wrote a blog post about this that breaks down the topic well and explains the basics.

2. Free from any discrimination: For us it is very clear and important that we all deserve the same rights and we not only live this in our company but also want to support it with the projects we support.

3. Pro Democratic: We want equality in all areas. Conversely, this sometimes also means that we have to listen to opinions that we do not support, as long as they do not hurt or discriminate against anyone. Because that too is democracy and freedom of expression. Even if, for the sake of simplicity, we often wish we didn't have to have one or two discussions.

4. No religious connection: We believe that religion should be a completely private decision. We therefore ensure that there are no religious references in our projects.

4. Soon there will be postcards/posters from you throughout the DACH region! What's it all about?

Yes! We are particularly looking forward to the project. We started expanding our range last year. As a young and small startup, this is sometimes not always easy. That's why we looked for an experienced partner. Modern times has been supplying 3,500 specialist retailers and retailers with their postcards throughout the DACH region for over 30 years.

Together we have now developed a collection that supports 10 organizations using 50 motifs. The focus is always on the social context. We tried to implement the topics the way we personally feel about them. We are really looking forward to seeing them in stores from January and are convinced that many business owners and managers will be brave enough to give these important messages a platform.

5. In addition to selling clothing, you also offer consulting for companies that want to focus more on social responsibility. This is certainly very individual, depending on what goals the company is pursuing.

What 3 general tips can you give to young brands who want to make a positive contribution?

Yes, you're right. In any case, this is very individual. However, we have developed a system that can act as a template for most companies and organizations. Based on this template, we are currently building a technical solution to be able to give even more companies and organizations access to good CSR (corporate social responsibility) campaigns via a matchmaking and AI-based platform. In principle I would always say:

1. Question your supply chains. Look at what you can do better now and think about where you would like to develop.

2. Check your business habits. Does everything really have to be printed out? Is every trip necessary? Can I compensate for CO2?

3. Social responsibility begins with personal awareness. Find a social topic that fits your company and see how you can incorporate it into your work. Not everything has to be visible to the outside world and you should definitely make sure that your work has real added value for the organization. For example, I personally don't think much of simple “buy & donate” models because they are often greenwashing. Because just because I donate 10% of my sales doesn't mean I'm a social enterprise and bring about social change. Otherwise car companies would also have the right to call themselves that. And that would be kind of weird, right? 



If you would like to find out more about Barbara and EMERALD BERLIN, please take a look here:

To the website: www.emerald-berlin.com

On Instagram : @emeraldberlin