Elvis and Kresse is a remarkable business. Which is wonderful and sad at the same time.
This social enterprise, a certified B-Corp, rescues materials which would otherwise go to landfill, transforms them into beautiful new goods and donates 50% of profits to charity.
Since 2005 it has turned decommissioned and damaged firehouses into a range of luxury accessories: bags, belts, wallets, travel cases. I bought one as a prize for a listener earlier this year.
And its values inform every single business decision. Kresse is outraged that company law usually compels directors to increase shareholder value even when that means damaging the planet. But it doesn't have to be this way, as she explains during the interview.
She also covers:
- How the circular economy is embedded into Elvis and Kresse's business and all its processes and decisions.
- The firm's backwards design process: problem first, material first.
- Its apprenticeship programme and partnership with the Burberry Foundation.
- Why Elvis and Kresse has never taken on growth capital and how this has been "unbelievably liberating."
- A challenging period when a series of things went horribly wrong and she and co-founder Elvis could have abandoned the business - but how, instead, they "doubled down" on creating impact.
- Her "crazy, new and revolutionary" idea: creating local, small-scale solar forges to recycle aluminium. This is a "beautiful, noble" material which continues to end up in landfill in huge volumes. This is an open-source public project with enormous potential. Kresse describes how to get involved.
- As someone who is "relatively uncompromising," has Kresse had to make any pragmatic compromises?
There's more, much more, in this episode which demonstrates that you can make a positive environmental and social impact, running a sustainable business, even in an industry whose pace, processes and material choices are "largely destructive and exploitative." We can and should do better.