Recently we caught up with Almudena Bentin one of the founders of the next big name in sustainable fashion INHALA. This conscious brand was founded by three Peruvian yoginis who wanted to create an authentic and mindful soulwear brand. They use 100% eco-friendly materials through all its value chain, from the highest quality of nylon to rich Peruvian organic cotton.
Read on to find out what led Almudena to this career of sustainable fashion, and what goes into running a company that is eco-friendly & looks great! PLUS we have an exclusive discount for all our readers!
What led you to choose this path to sustainable fashion?
Since high school I have always been involved in a variety of environmental and sustainability initiatives, thus when starting my self-growth journey it was a must to align my inner journey with my outer purpose. I then started a masters in sustainable development and innovation to further deepen my knowledge on such crucial and vast topic. After graduation and having some work experience in green finance, I understood that I wanted to pursue a more entrepreneurial and activism path. So together with my two best friends while at a yoga festival in Costa Rica we decided that we wanted to build the most sustainable yoga wear brand, or at least do our best at it! So with some good timing and one of us dreaming about the name a couple weeks later, INHALA was born.
What are the standards for sustainability in your industry?
The quest for total sustainability in fashion is full of trade-offs. The idea is to make an impact every chance you get. It’s about always innovating and making sure the product or service you are offering does not put our life gifted planet and us humans in any risk. We believe that to achieve utmost ‘sustainability’ there needs to be a systemic change, but until then you get to rethink and repurpose every step of your process and service.
Raw Materials: bio-based/organic fabrics that are free from pesticides and chemicals and/or certified. Materials that have been naturally transformed from bio-waste or innovative regenerated materials such as polyamide/plastic. What are the emissions and by-products of the production of such textiles? Is it a closed-loop process?
Inputs in the product: no plastic applications to the pieces or packaging, no elastics, no harmful chemicals, digitally or naturally dyed. Packaging and tags are made from recycled organic or innovative materials.
Processes: are there fair hours, is it a safe working environment, is it a certified and clean working space?
Distribution: are transport emissions are being offset and reduced?
Education: accurate & honest communication to the consumer about the brands story and compromise.
Involvement: empower the consumer to take ongoing action, plant a tree at check-out to offset your shipment.
Waste: how is the brand dealing with their excess waste? With the excess fabric we are designing a line of mat carriers.
R&D: always innovating with new textile technology, new ways to reduce and reuse the waste. Always finding a secondary market or recycled option for your inputs. Can you partner up with local organisations to promote eco-awareness through events and campaigns?
It seems a lot of businesses these days are using the term "sustainable" to be on trend, what are your thoughts on this and how could this be avoided?
Green-washing is everywhere nowadays. It's so simple to just say it, put fancy and big words on it and sell it, but the responsibility is also on the side consumer who buys the story and the product. It’s also our responsibility to demand better products, processes and fairer prices. Education and curiosity is key for this. Where was your product made? Traceability/who was it made by? What kind of certifications does it have? Is it safe for me?
Read the labels, take the time to understand if their campaigns are brief and confusing or really nourishing and impactful.
Use ESG (environmental, social and governance) standards to evaluate the company's operations. There are a wide variety of standards that help us understand better most of the relevant certifications and green practices out there: The Carbon Disclosure Project, SDG, SGRI, etc.
Also as a consumer, always keep in mind the 4R’s of sustainability which orient you towards a more eco-driven life by reducing your overall consumption...
REFUSE - REUSE - REDUCE - RECYCLE
For a company just starting to be more environmentally conscious, what is one easy step they can take to be more sustainable?
It depends on the sector the company is in, so in this case, fabric innovation and off-setting their shipping emissions with plant-a-tree or sea grass initiatives.
What is something we can all do to live a more sustainable lifestyle?
Understand that small actions do matter, that education and sensitivity on the current situation empowers us to make more impact-driven decisions daily. Reduce and offset your air travel, eat less meat, shop less plastic and packing, demand better products, and always ask the important questions.
INHALA was founded by 3 friends, how do you make sure there is a work/friendship balance?
Our roles were defined over the first year. It was important for us to first validate our skills, see how our energies worked together and then aim at building and dividing our roles and responsibilities. Something key in the health of our relationships was from the beginning was to set healthy boundaries. After the second year of launch, when Inhala felt ready for a next step, we as co-founders found ourselves in a moment of re-evaluation of possibilities and vision for impact-driven growth. We were not all at the same level of commitment so it was the time where business had to come first, and we had to be honest about our vision for growth and change. Friendship has to always rule, and the moment we felt it was the opposite we spoke about it and tried to work through it.
What has been your biggest obstacle starting your own business & how did you overcome this?
Starting your own project means your whole heart and energy is devoted to it, you get extremely protective and emotional about it so you want to control, oversee and do it all!
My biggest obstacle was to let go of this need to control, to trust the process and give time to the idea to grow and shape. Give myself space for error cause it gives way for organic growth. Another obstacle that I had to face was understanding what it meant to have sustainability at the core of your vision, and as the main artery of the model. Sacrifices came with the choice, you have to be innovative and bold now, to stand unique and strong in the future. But It’s not easy to survive under such competitive and overwhelmed activewear business and let alone being green. Price discrepancies and lack of quality are putting high barriers for green driven brands to strive. However it’s all about building and empowering your community because the change is already happening, so the long-term retribution of building a brand with purpose for us is worth the extra effort.
What does the future look like for INHALA, what are your big dreams?
Our big dream is to switch to only local e-commerce to reduce to the fullest our carbon footprint. Work with a green fleet of transportation and settle in 5 big markets around the world, opening eco-boutiques where clients can come and discover the magic inside Inhala.
Innovate on our materials to the fullest and become a truly zero-plastic company.
Achieve full disclosure of our processes and report constantly our advancements.
Launch our male line Exhala and push for a bigger community of mindful people.
What is your favourite yoga pose/ or style of yoga?
Yin Yoga. Grounding and nurturing energy, surrendering and letting go are the benefits I feel from holding balasana for a few minutes. It’s the pose I go to whenever I need comfort, protection and calming down.
Discovering the yin inside me has helped me connect deeper with my harmonious self, finding a true feeling of calmness and openness.
What is the most value piece of advice you were ever given?
‘Acknowledging the good you already have in your life is the foundation to all abundance’
‘Dream big, start small, scale fast’
INHALA focuses on protecting our planet and being more mindful, what is your top tip to have a more mindful lifestyle?
Heal yourself, heal the world - meditation and self-growth practices are key to then being able to align your outer purpose. Being frequently exposed to nature is a big gift to help nourish the love for Mother Earth. Be part of like-minded communities to help transform your visions into actions and never stop exploring and learning about what’s happening around us!
Thank you Almudena for sharing with us! We are so excited for what the future holds for INHALA & we hope more businesses learn from your green model.
Our lucky readers can receive a 15% discount from all INHALA soul-wear, just use the code YOGI2ME15 when you check out!
Want to know how your daily yoga practice can contribute to wellness for the planet?
Yogi2Me is donating £2 from every booking to Sculpt the Future Foundation, a charity committed to promoting positive environmental change towards global sustainability.
To book a class jump onto our website!