Natacha Campanale, the sports entrepreneur who designs 100% eco-friendly clothing
Posted on October, 30th 2017.
This young 29-year-old entrepreneur, who describes herself as "dynamic and full of values", founded Boïja, a 100% sustainable and French sportswear brand which uses recycling, organic agriculture, and the local economy.
"The raw materials used are either from recycling channels either from organic or sustainable farming."
At the beginning of a life-changing project, there is always a little story behind the big story. Natacha Campanale's story is no exception to the rule. "I was a young woman looking for direction", said this former human resources employee working in industry and then luxury. I do a lot of sports and whenever I needed clothes, it was impossible to go anywhere other than the big brands. So, I founded Boïja."
The first 100% eco-friendly sports brandThe first 100% eco-friendly and French sports brand (cock-a-doodle-doo!) was founded in May 2016. "Initially, the project was not for textiles but equipment. Except that manufacturing equipment requires money to make it and patents", said Natacha, who has located her business in Strasbourg. A little over a year later and thanks to the crowd-funding platform Ulule, Boïja's first "summer 2017" collection was created. 189 models were designed, which is over the initial target of 100, and include swim shorts, technical shorts, and yoga and technical tee-shirts. According to the entrepreneur from Alsace, "The autumn/winter 2017 collection with leggings, running leggings, and long-sleeved tee-shirts" will be on sale before the end of the year.
More than the design, it is the materials used to make Boïja's sportswear that are surprising. "I'm trying to be very thorough in the origins of textiles", said Natacha Campanale. The raw materials used are either recycled (recycled plastic bottles or recycled textile fibers) or from organic or sustainable farming such as organic cotton, eucalyptus pulp, or flax and hemp which do not require chemicals to be processed. In France, we are one of the leading producers of flax and hemp but this is not widely known."
Short manufacturing circuitNatacha also favors the short circuit for Boïja's production. This is a way to reduce energy expenditure while supporting the local economy and only the recycling of plastic materials used to manufacture technical garments is carried out abroad in Italy because she could not find a recycler in France. "My textile manufacturers are mainly located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alps region because this is France's traditional textile production area. My apparel contractor, the Contino Group, is located in the Vosges and my haberdashery is also located in France. If I ever expanded my business to Australia, I would make sure that all the clothes were made in Australia as well. Everyone gains from being closer to the final customer: the economy, the planet", she said.
To be honest, everything about Boïja is based on the ideas of circular and local economy, even the name which "means "build" in the local Alsace language. It is a nod in the direction of the region that is helping me to develop my project as well as what it evokes: construction, wood, creation, and solidity", explained Natacha. But a name that sounds good is nothing compared to the satisfaction of feeling useful everyday: "I feel proud of myself at the end of the day. I've done my bit. I've done something that will be useful to future generations."