Fast Fashion vs The Grit of GRAFF Inc: A Hult Prize Story
Graff Inc. is a sustainable fashion startup competing at the Hult Prize. They get candid on the competition itself, all they’ve achieved, and how far they hope they’ll go ahead of the semifinals on June 3.
Guys, introduce yourselves …
GRAFF Inc. is composed of 5 founders that scream diversity in all aspects. The name itself is a representation of who we are Giulia Massaccesi (Italy), Rikita Lakdawala (India), Ana Maria Perez (Colombia), Francesco Ficorilli (Italy), and Francisco Da Silva (South Africa).
We have a lawyer, two project managers, a mechanical engineer, and even an entrepreneur. Together we bring 35 years of work experience to the table and have managed over $1 Billion in funding. Together we truly have what it takes to change the fashion industry so that future generations can experience the beauty of our earth as we do.
At GRAFF Inc., we confront the fashion industry’s ecological havoc head-on.
What motivated you to participate in the Hult Prize? And why sustainable fashion?
Witnessing the environmental impact of the textile industry within our home countries inspired us to compete in the Hult Prize. We are driven by a deep-rooted desire to effect change. The Hult Prize serves as a global platform that amplifies our mission to revolutionize the fashion industry and address its pressing sustainability challenges.
We take pride in being a majority women-owned and minority-owned business.
The fashion industry is notorious for its negative environmental impact—what is GRAFF Inc. doing specifically?
At GRAFF Inc., we confront the fashion industry’s ecological havoc head-on. Our business idea transforms textile waste into a game-changing patented material. This has forged a path for us to give textile waste a whole new life without using harmful chemicals. We’ve started by replacing traditional clothing hangers with our sustainable and fashionable GRAFF Hangers.
We plan on expanding the use of our sustainable material for retail and home furniture, accessories, and more, to create a long-lasting impact on our planet. Our mission is clear: eradicate plastic usage and reduce carbon and methane emissions. This is how we forge a path toward a greener, more responsible future for fashion. Together, we can rewrite the industry’s legacy and inspire a global shift towards sustainability.
We invite consumers to embrace their role as environmental trendsetters, making a statement with every purchase.
How does new tech play a role?
We harness technology and cutting-edge solutions to revolutionize the fashion industry sustainably. Our groundbreaking composite material, crafted from textile waste, is a game-changer never seen before. We’ve recently partnered with UMass Lowell, EAFIT, Forged Impact, Greentown Labs, and more, to bring our creation to life. This makes it feasible for mass production to eradicate textile waste by giving it new life. A holistic approach not only transforms our material’s production but also paves the way for a more sustainable industry.
How does your business idea empower individuals to make eco-friendly choices?
We believe that sustainability should be fashionable and accessible. Our business idea empowers individuals to make eco-friendly choices by offering stylish alternatives that don’t compromise on quality. We invite consumers to embrace their role as environmental trendsetters, making a statement with every purchase. This helps our customers increase their ESG score while helping local authorities reach their Sustainable Development Goals.
Our focus on sustainable production promotes ethical practices by reducing the industry’s reliance on harmful materials.
Where next after Hult Prize?
Beyond the Hult Prize competition, our team at GRAFF Inc. is fully committed to turning our idea into a reality. We plan to secure additional funding to further develop our composite material, optimize production processes, and scale up. By forging strategic partnerships with textile manufacturers and local governments, we’ll access a steady supply of textile waste for our products. Through extensive marketing and collaboration with fashion brands, we aim to position our sustainable alternatives as a mainstream choice, ultimately reshaping the industry’s practices.
Besides sustainability, does your business idea also address social and ethical aspects of the fashion industry?
Absolutely. By utilizing textile waste, we contribute to waste reduction and alleviate the burden on landfills, thereby improving the well-being of communities living near these sites. Our focus on sustainable production also promotes ethical practices by reducing the industry’s reliance on harmful materials. Through partnerships with textile manufacturers and local governments, we create opportunities for jobs, fostering social sustainability within the communities we operate in. We take pride in being a majority women-owned and minority-owned business.
The Hult Prize gives you a platform you will not find anywhere else in the world.
What has your experience of the Hult Prize been like? Would you recommend it to others?
The Hult Prize has been the star of the show for our entire Hult journey. It encompasses the Hult DNA and allows students to push themselves to a limit as they have never been pushed before. This gives them the opportunity to really expand on their growth mindset and grow not only professionally—but also emotionally. The Hult Prize gives you a platform you will not find anywhere else in the world. GRAFF Inc. highly recommends all future Hultians looking to create a positive impact on the world take part. Be the difference the world needs!
Through her expertise, Professor Caryn Pang has given GRAFF Inc. incredible insight into the fashion industry.
How do you balance the demands of the Hult Prize with your studies?
Balancing Hult Prize with studies has actually become highly advantageous while studying at Hult, given the exceptional support from the faculty. Their willingness to assist means combining academic pursuits with the Hult Prize is not only feasible but also mutually beneficial. Professors understand the significance of the Hult Prize and may allow you to integrate your business idea into individual or team assignments. Effective time management, prioritization, and teamwork can truly make the dream work.
Let’s talk Caryn Pang. How did Caryn become your mentor?
Professor Pang officially became our mentor for the Hult Prize when we won the Hult Boston competition. She had agreed with Hult Boston and the Hult Prize team to mentor the winning team, and that was us!
Caryn exhibits a remarkable ability to think outside the box, offering visionary ideas that illuminate our company’s potential.
How has Caryn influenced your team’s approach to your business idea?
If you know Caryn Pang and her brand image, there is only one word to describe it—and that is sexy! Through her expertise, Professor Pang has given GRAFF Inc. incredible insight into the fashion industry. Having witnessed the fashion industry’s problems hands-on, she knew how to pinpoint exact flaws within fashion, and has helped us approach it by giving us guidance on what fashionistas expect from upcoming sustainable companies. She has helped us pivot in a direction that not only adds value to our consumers but also to the government. This makes all parties look great while making the industry sustainable.
Does Caryn’s mentorship inspire innovation amongst the team?
Caryn exhibits a remarkable ability to think outside the box, offering visionary ideas that illuminate our company’s potential. For instance, she suggested we could get a slot at New York Fashion Week, demonstrating our capacity to position ourselves as a sustainable luxury brand. She also emphasizes the importance of considering our materials and fostering innovation within the fashion industry through strategic partnerships.
How has Caryn supported your team through a notoriously tough industry?
The widespread lack of awareness regarding the substantial waste generated by the fashion industry is a challenge. Many people don’t know that manufacturers produce 63% beyond the actual demand. This results in a staggering amount of waste that could blanket the entire planet. Caryn has played a pivotal role in helping us recognize that our solution is more consequential than the obstacles we face.
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