28-01-14

Imelda Marcos Queen of Scarves

AdS for APOCCAS

Alexandra Du Sold
Founder & Creative Director of APOCCAS | Sustainable Luxury Textiles; Social Entrepreneur & Venture Philanthropist

My name is Alexandra Du Sold and I am a social entrepreneur. It sounds like the opening line to a twelve-step programme, doesn’t it? Well, truth be told, there are some similarities to recovery here. In my case, launching APOCCAS was a way to "recover" from a professional life that wasn’t truly feeding my soul.

APOCCAS came to me whilst I was on sabbatical from a demanding job in finance – hedge funds actually. In the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, I decided to fight stagnation and emptiness with a massive life change. So I flung myself outside my comfort zone and headed out to Bali and turned myself onto my head for six months – quite literally. I stood still and let myself be inspired. Visits to nearby indigo-dye village communities revived my childhood delight for colours and textiles. My quest for added handloom sophistication pointed to Ancient Siam’s master weavers.

Watching them work with unparalleled dedication and pride, I became infatuated with learning about how silk and cotton are farmed and woven and the intricate artisanal skill sets associated with the ancient ways. This re-ignited in me a deeply held passion for cuddly neck warmers that I had put in a box, tucked away and forgot about as I went along with my day-to-day at breakneck speed with barely the opportunity to breathe. The fact that I accidentally owned an Imelda Marcos collection of scarves had gone completely unnoticed.

I knew that I didn’t want to return to London to pick up a career that seemed like it belonged to a different me, a “past“ me. I knew that I wanted to pursue a different vocation, something I could turn into my own legacy of true values I wanted in my life – happiness and livelihood for all, a voice for the greater good.  The decision to begin creating a business that upheld a moral compass to lead was a no brainer for me. I began to look at ways APOCCAS could operate on what I call the four pillars. The brand’s philosophy embraces women’s empowerment, sustainability, heirloom luxury and “feel-goodism”. Remarkably, an APOCCAS scarf is living proof that this can be done.

APOCCAS is in the early start-up stage bringing with it the ultimate challenge: to be all things at once. Luckily, ‘I’ have become ‘we’ since I’ve put together a small but perfectly formed London team to lend APOCCAS the much needed voice to access a global marketplace, be that via traffic to our website, or, more recently, through an overwhelmingly successful crowdfund campaign on Indiegogo. Endorsements of this nature are fantastic; they provide the fuel for more action-packed adventure; this time we’re off head first into another awareness-raising campaign for the preservation of the Eri silkworm in the northern provinces.

In 2010, if you had asked me where I saw myself in three years, I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams that I’d ever trade a metropolitan desk for the far-flung villages of Thailand.  But as sentient beings, we come to a point in our lives where we need to be true to ourselves - and that takes a lot of strength and courage. It is absolutely terrifying to look yourself in the mirror and ask “but what will people think?”. The answer is: it doesn’t matter, what matters is truth.  Shakespeare said it best “To thine own self be true”. For me, success was no longer about the high life and its accoutrements, I wanted something more and so now measuring my success as a changemaker is based in how much my business gives back to others. APOCCAS advocates trade, not aid. By cutting out the middlemen and working directly and fairly with women artisans, it has turned the traditional model of ‘doing business’ on its head. We go to great lengths to ensure our product is environmentally friendly by using organics and botanical dyes. An APOCCAS scarf is the exact opposite of disposable, fast fashion. It may not come (factory) cheap but that’s because it’s a handmade luxury item that won’t go to landfill but rather be passed down the generations – it’s an heirloom that encompasses empowerment, compassion and beauty all at once and for all.

First published on 28 Jan 2014 at Zars Media: Recognising and Celebrating Working Women