TV Producer to Sock Production
I have always loved nature and the outdoors. But when I was 11 years old I got to visit Sea World and discovered my calling - I was destined to work with killer whales (there was so much I still needed to learn at 11!) Then my dad informed me that in order to do that I would need to become a Marine Biologist. So, there it was, decision made, I was going to become a marine biologist… and well, that is exactly what I did - ten years later I graduated with a BSc in Marine Biology.
At this point I had been a part of some amazing scientific research projects. I had spent almost three months surveying reefs in Mexico and later coral reefs in Sulawesi, but despite the thrill of being underwater and immersed in such an unknown world I knew that I didn’t want to stay in just one place. Instead, there was another career I wanted to pursue - and that was natural history television production.
This was exactly as hard as I had anticipated. Sir David Attenborough had (and still does) inspired minds all across the globe and the competition was rife. But I was ready to get my figurative and literal foot in the door. Starting any career in television is not easy, as a runner and production assistant I was constantly moving cities, taking every opportunity I could wrangle, living with friends, sleeping on floors and trying to get as much experience as I could. It was after almost two years of grasping at the rails that I got the break I was dreaming of. I was offered a role as a researcher at the BBC’s Natural History Unit. (Huge thanks to Lucinda Axelsson for that gig!)
But things weren’t always as I’d hoped. While some broadcasters were finally letting teams show the Behind the Scenes truths of life on earth, many were still just seeking ratings – by dramatizing or avoiding reality. They couldn’t see the opportunity to reach large audiences by being honest, like Our Planet has. But it was the last show that I produced that was the tipping point for me. I hoped the show would speak of the wonder of sharks, emphasise the abilities these fish have, and leave the viewer wanting to protect them – but instead the story line was predictable, with fast and furious imagery to deliver the message that sharks were ultimately menaces we should all fear.
I realised the powers of story-telling were being manipulated and that a different story needed to be told.
The true story – that our planet needs protecting and that if our actions continue, by 2050 the world's stocks of seafood will have collapsed, at least 570 cities and some 800 million people will be exposed to rising seas and storm surges (more than 90 US coastal cities are already experiencing chronic flooding) and 2,890,000 square kilometers — an area the size of India — of tropical forest will be lost due to deforestation.
I had been sharing these facts for years, refusing straws and hoarding metal forks at my desk. But habits around me weren’t changing (I am not yet fully zero waste but I do believe that every positive change makes a difference). Every day millions of people in Manhattan were picking up lunch or a coffee to go, and the piles of waste were over flowing from every trash can. It seemed we were all too reliant on convenience to make a little extra effort and consider our own individual impacts.
Side note, I really don’t know what happened to a good old packed lunch. Maybe we all need dabbawallas … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dabbawala
It was at this point I realized that as creatures of habit we simply needed the products we were already buying to just be better. And this was when I decided I was going to make a sock company – a sustainable one, with socks better than any other, that are too good to refuse, and that would in turn force other brands to change their production methods.
Socks may seem a strange place to start but what better place to start than with the ‘basics’. They are an essential clothing item for most of us but yet the purchase barely considered.
In fact, around 25 million pairs of socks were made last year – requiring approximately 700 metric tonnes of textiles. And, given that just 2.2lbs/1kg of conventional cotton requires more than 20,000 liters of water – you could be looking at 14,204,545,500 liters of water to meet the demand … It was clear that I needed to lower the footprint of all the world’s socks.
So, that is what we are doing.
I’d love for you to follow these footsteps.