Take 5 with... Susannah Jaffer from Zerrin!
WOMB’s Friday interviews are one of the main reasons why we adore the 5th day of the week! We love introducing you to inspiring change-makers, eco-warriors and progressive ethical entrepreneurs. This week we chat with Susannah, the founder of ZERRIN, a platform for sustainable, ethically made womenswear, whose amazing pop-up with an exciting panel discussion we had the chance to visit while in Singapore.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from, where did you study, and what about Singapore makes it special and makes you stay?
I'm British, originally from the UK and have lived in Singapore for 8 years. I studied English at Royal Holloway University and came to SG originally with a language teaching role. Unfortunately my visa for that fell through so I ended up working in media, first in PR and then as a magazine editor. Singapore is where I've built my whole career to date and now my business, so I don't really know much else! My family is mixed Indian/British, so I'm comfortable living and existing on this side of the world - heat, climate, food and all!
2. What's important to you, and how do these values influence your professional choices?
Authentic connections are important to me. Mixing with people who are real, down to earth, collaborative and just not afraid to be themselves. I think when it comes to professional choices, this influences who I choose to work with, whether that's retail partners, collaborators, and everything in between.
3. Tell us about Zerrin - how and why did it start?
ZERRIN started as an idea back in 2016 after becoming jaded and tired of the seemingly meaningless seasonal repetition of most international brands, as well as irritated with the poor quality of mass market fashion (because stuffy fabrics in the tropics and clothes falling apart in the wash is never cool!) I was slowly also discovering more about the impact of the industry and eventually felt at odds with and slightly uninspired with my role as a fashion editor. Through my work and travels I was also discovering independent local designers and upcoming sustainable businesses whose designs I found far more creative and whose designs were more responsibly made - but many found it difficult to raise awareness and market themselves.
That inspired the idea for a design-led platform where you could discover these emerging sustainable brands in one place, while reading content about the whole sustainable fashion space - and we launched in November 2017. Through everything ZERRIN puts out there, from our media content to our store, events or partnerships, our goal is to reignite a sense of connection to the things we consume, to other people and to the world around us.
4. What’s your biggest source of inspiration right now?
The emerging brands, interesting individuals and technological innovations that are redefining what we wear today - all with the goal of making the retail industry more responsible and sustainable. I find that fascinating, and is something we're steering ZERRIN towards tapping into a lot more moving forward.
5. Who are your personal heroes and why?
I can't pinpoint someone exactly... I'm not the type to idolise or put people on a pedestal. BUT I'm always inspired by people who take action, work towards their dreams and aren't afraid to be different despite how crazy and judgemental the world can be these days.