Q&A: Championing conscious consumption through fashion

Today we talk to Jade Massaad, the entrepreneur behind the fashion label ALKAM, a sustainable fashion brand espousing the philosophy that fashion should be a combination of considered design, responsible business, and conscious manufacturing. Jade’s mission is to drive a movement towards “conscious consumption.” Despite the challenges she faced at launch, including launching during the pandemic, Jade has managed to overcome the odds, having recently launched a second collection.

ISB: How did you arrive at the idea of starting your own fashion label?

JM: I launched ALKAM during the pandemic as a result of being stood down from my full-time job in marketing. I’ve always wanted to start my own fashion brand, and the pandemic gave me that extra push I needed to finally take that leap and press go on manufacturing. I noticed a gap in the market for sustainable, affordable and fashionable clothing. Consumers are wanting to shop their values but without the hefty price tag. So, from that notion, ALKAM was born.

ISB: What is the significance of the name “ALKAM” for your fashion label?

JM: ALKAM is derived from alchemy, or alchemist, which means transforming raw materials into something special. The brand was started from my living room, and is still operating from home in which I’ve taken over two rooms and our granny flat, and has already grown, and to me, starting a brand from scratch and bringing it to life, is the most rewarding process.

ISB: What has been the most challenging aspect for you in getting into the fashion industry and how did you overcome it?

JM: Launching during the pandemic, at a time when women weren’t needing suits or refined clothing, was tough. Then when lockdown 2.0 hit in 2021, it was certainly a challenging time for my business. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is the need to be nimble, and to quickly adapt to consumer demands and trends. When comfortable clothing and the likes of activewear and loungewear were on the rise, I had to quickly pivot my second collection to address consumer demands. And the second collection has proven to be my best yet! Contemporary, refined clothing that is comfortable enough to wear for work, play and working from home.  

ISB: How do you define “conscious consumption” and how does ALKAM work on attaining that goal?

JM: Conscious consumption is a social movement centred around understanding the impact that your purchase decisions have on the environment. I’ve worked in fashion for over 10 years and I was exposed to so much waste, it was very much a churn and burn culture. I wanted to make a difference with my brand, not contribute to the devastating environmental and social impact of the fashion industry. ALKAM’s foundation is slow fashion, so everything we create is designed to last, so you can buy less, and throw away less. We believe that fashion and sustainability can go hand in hand – you can love your outfit without harming the environment.

ISB: How do you envision ALKAM developing in the next couple of years?

JM: I want ALKAM to be a household name for conscious shoppers nationwide.

ISB: What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your business journey that you feel others can learn from?

JM: The need for a brand to stand for something. Gone are the days when businesses operate just for profit. Now at a time when consumers are losing trust in the government, they’re turning to businesses to make a change, and address the many concerns they have. Issues like climate change, landfill, poverty. And if you don’t address these issues and be a brand that stands for something, you’ll be left behind.