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Meet the MBA Graduate Behind Italy’s Newest Sustainable Brand

Meet the MBA Graduate Behind Italy’s Newest Sustainable Brand main image

The past ten years will be remembered as the time people all around the world came face to face with the effects of climate change. In the hottest decade on record, we’ve seen Icelandic glaciers melt, huge fires blaze in California and Australia and Venice’s famous St Mark’s Square flooded.

From Twitter hashtags to student protests every Friday, everyone seems to have finally noticed the tell-tale signs of environmental depletion and want to hold industries accountable for their negative impact on the planet.

The fashion industry wasn’t immune to scrutiny – quite the opposite. Recent reports from the European Parliament, Greenpeace and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) revealed that fast fashion emits more carbon emissions than international flights and maritime shipping combined, causes hundreds of thousands tons of plastic microfibers and textiles to be dumped in oceans and landfills and is the second-largest consumer of water worldwide.

While many fashion brands refused to revisit or even reverse their harmful practices, other entrepreneurs and brand owners decided to take the matter into their own hands.

Natalia Wegrzyn-Kalali is one of them.

At the beginning of 2019, after graduating with an MBA from MIP Politecnico di Milano Graduate Business, Natalia created her own sustainable clothing company: LA MILLA. Natalia describes her brand as “the world’s most comfortable casual clothes for women” and the ideal combination of her passion for the environment and her vibrant flair for business.

After becoming a mother, Natalia began looking into the impact that climate change could have on future generations and ultimately decided to pursue a sustainable lifestyle for the sake of her children’s future. The first step she took was shifting her wardrobe to all organic clothing; the latest, creating a locally-produced, 100 percent eco-friendly brand, now based in Milan.

“The true story of LA MILLA is very much personal. It has roots in my own transformation,” she said. “It was born from my strong desire to create truly eco products and an eco-friendly company. The motivation came from my willingness and inner need to promote a sustainable lifestyle,” she said.

“Local production was the best choice from the ecological point of view – the smaller the distance, the lower the co2 emissions,” she adds. “Our clients who look for sustainable products appreciate a lot of our efforts towards implementing new, better standards in the fashion industry.”

LA MILLA

But Natalia’s environmental efforts didn’t stop at production. As soon as she funded the company, she partnered with the American NGO Eden Reforestation Projects to restore forests in the United States and give jobs to workers in Nepal, Madagascar, Haiti, Indonesia, Mozambique and Kenya. She also recently implemented a “You Wear – We Plant” scheme: for every LA MILLA item sold, Eden Reforestation Projects plants an extra five trees on behalf of Natalia and her customers.

So why a clothing brand?

“It was something that I realized after my MBA and after a career in consultancy,” Natalia said. “I started thinking about going back to work after my maternity leave was over, but I wanted to find a good job for myself.”

Natalia considers her MBA at MIP a key factor in her decision to become an entrepreneur. She says it not only gave her an understanding of business in general, but also the knowledge and inspiration necessary to design a start-up.

Understanding what consumers want and need was another important step in the process of creating LA MILLA.

Natalia said: “Nowadays, consumers are looking for something more than just products. I am sure they appreciate our sustainable business approach while also getting to enjoy the superb quality of our merchandise.”

Despite the numerous business challenges she faced in the last few months, Natalia is determined and hopeful for the future.

“LA MILLA is at the very beginning of the business journey, but I am strongly convinced that it will be a very successful company,” she said. “It is a project with strong, important values and a true mission for a better tomorrow.”

Written by Linda Mohamed

Linda is Content Writer at TopMBA, creating content about students, courses, universities and businesses. She recently graduated in Journalism & Creative Writing with Politics and International Relations, and now enjoys writing for a student audience. 

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