Friday, April 17, 2015

Girl Crush Alert -- Candy Maaka-Stoten


An interview with Candy Maaka-Stoten
Eco-Business Owner of KSKYE 

Tell us a little more about yourself!  I’m an ex-pat Kiwi, now living in Sydney, Australia.  I have lived here for over half of my life, but I grew up in beautiful Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.  I have an I.T and design background and work as an ethical designer behind my label, KSKYE.  I am also a power yogi, a long time vegetarian turned raw vegan and a ‘conscious living’ advocate behind

What are your three favorite eco-products?  I love the ocean and am very conscious about what goes down the sink (which ends up in the ocean); a few of my favourite eco products are eco-vegan cosmetics and cleansers; lippy and eyeliner, shampoo and conditioner and everyday household cleaners.  I also try and buy organic everything - food, cosmetics, clothing, towels and bedding.

I’m also a huge fan of upcycling.  I love what businesses can do with used products that would otherwise be waste.

What was the first step you took to a more eco- friendly lifestyle?  I became vegan.  Just eliminating all animal products from my life drastically reduces my carbon footprint.  This is in my personal life and in business.  Livestock farming is responsible for extreme amounts of environmental damage and pollution – from mass deforestation, water depletion, ocean dead zones and species extinction and literally has the highest carbon footprint on the planet; more than all transportation in the world, put together. 

A branch off livestock farming is leather production.  Leather production is listed twice on the world’s ‘Top Ten Pollutants’, from livestock farming and leather tanneries.  Leather tanneries release millions of tons of toxic waste and chemicals into the air and into our waterways – which ends up poisoning the workers, nearby villages and the environment.

India and China are the world’s leading leather exporters;  Kanpur, India is the leading city.  To give you an idea of how toxic leather production is; 50 million litres of highly toxic wastewater (a slurry of poisons including chromium, lead and arsenic) is generated by Kanpur’s tanneries alone, on a daily basis.  What is even more frightening, is that only 20% of this wastewater is treated properly before being released.  This wastewater ends up in crops, farmlands and in the River Ganges.

Becoming vegan was literally my first step towards living a more eco-friendly lifestyle - and it just naturally increased from there.  I became more curious about conscious living and started living an organic, greener and compassionate life.

Can you tell us how you got started in your business?  I left I.T in pursuit of design and creativity.  In 2009, I launched my high-end fashion footwear label, KeilanaSkye.  For a young label, it did really well pretty much straight away.  In its first 4 years, I had shown at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Australia; in LA and NYC.  I had international stockists and clientele; I won a very prestigious Qantas fashion award, had numerous national and international press editorials and was also named a ‘Top Ten Independent Designer’ in 2012, by a UK Magazine.  I also supplied shoes to Australia’s Next Top Model and dressed quite a few celebrities - my customer base grew really quickly, everyday.

We saw that you recently made some big business changes/revamped some products. Why did you decide to make the change?  Behind all of KeilanaSkye’s success; my awareness about how polluting the leather and fashion industry is, started to grow.  I wanted to rebrand to eco-vegan then and there, but I knew that I had to execute the rebrand properly and over time.  It was really tough; my career no longer aligned with my ethics and financially, it drained everything we had.  I spent most of 2014 rebranding, prototyping and designing new product lines; which affected our sales because we did not have a new collection to sell. We made it through that and now in 2015, my label has completely rebranded to KSKYE; an ethical, eco and cruelty-free fashion label.

I love animals and I love the planet – but what I was doing was destroying both.  At the time of launching KeilanaSkye; I had no idea of the environmental damage, pollution, waste and cruelty involved.  I wasn’t happy or proud of what I was doing - and if you’re not proud of what you do, it’s time to change.

What is the best piece of business advice you ever received?  I have learnt by experiencing it, researching what I didn’t know and trial and error.  The first two years were my biggest learning curves, but I still learn something everyday.  My best pieces of business advice to offer are:

  1. Don’t stop collaborating.  No matter how big or successful you may become; keep collaborating and networking with like-minded people and businesses.
  2. Spend money on things that matter first. Stock and marketing should come over buying the ‘best of everything’.  I have seen a few business owners buy expensive office equipment – meanwhile they weren’t getting many sales.  Your office will still function with second hand equipment and without the latest iMac.
  3. Keep learning, ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  4. Stay true to yourself.  If it doesn’t feel right, change it.

What are your three most popular products?  

The DEMIOS Saber Tooth Crystal Necklace Click here to check it out on her site!
KSKYE DEIMOS Black Tourmaline Saber Tooth Necklace - Gold

INDIGO Purple Jet Sunglasses Click Here to check it out on her site!
 KSKYE - INDIGO Eyewear in Purple Jet

HYDRA Crystal Point Necklaces Click Here to Check it out on her site!
 KSKYE - INDIGO Eyewear in Purple Jet
What message would you like to leave with our readers about making the switch to a more eco friendly life style or business?  No item or product is worth our health, a life or the Earth – making the switch just makes sense ;-)

Thanks so much Candy! 

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