Kresse Wesling, MBE, (co-founder of Elvis & Kresse) is a multi-award winning environmental entrepreneur and Young Global Leader with a background in venture capital and significant start-up experience. After first meeting with the London Fire Brigade in 2005, Kresse launched Elvis & Kresse, which turns industrial waste into innovative lifestyle products and returns 50% of profits to charities related to the waste. Elvis & Kresse’s first line is made from decommissioned fire hose, 50% of the profits from this line are donated to the Fire Fighters Charity.The company now collects 12 different waste streams, has several charitable partnerships and is involved with collaborations across industries, from fashion houses to FTSE 100 companies etc.
1- You are saving London’s Hoses, and your design process is essentially 3 step system; reclaim, innovate and donate. Could you tell us more about the impact you are trying to achieve?
We discovered something, in 2010, which was in many ways a very bad year for us. We lost our strategic production partner to a much larger luxury company and our US distributor disappeared with thousands of pounds worth of stock… never to be seen again. When we started in 2005 we had one goal, to solve London’s fire hose problem. In 2010 we succeeded, we were large enough to be rescuing 100% of London’s hoses. So although 2010 had its lows, it had this one amazing high. This got us thinking about multiple objectives. What happens if we double down on goodness? We measure our success by how much we are able to reclaim and how much we are able to donate but we are working on a lot more than that. We use 100% renewable energy and we have launched a campaign to help other companies do the same. We started an apprenticeship program. We didn’t stop with fire hose, we reclaim over 15 different wastes, and are taking on new waste problems all the time. We are challenging the luxury industry. We are contributing to the shift to a circular economy… Once we survived 2010 we decided that there was a lot we could do. This is the adventure we are on now.
2- As a Social Entrepreneur, Could you tell us about the challenges you have faced, and how did you overcome them?
We face the same challenges that any entrepreneur would. Starting a company is hard, keeping it going is even harder and scaling, which has been our work over the last few years, is perhaps the most difficult! I am of two minds when thinking about the additional challenge of being a social entrepreneur. Of course it adds complexity, cost and work at almost every level, it makes us question every action in terms of our wider values and it means we have to do a lot of due diligence. It also adds awesomeness. The reality for both Elvis & I is that we couldn’t run another type of company. We designed a business that reflects our values, this is what makes running it exciting and fulfilling. I think the return exceeds the added investment.
3- what would it be your advice to women entrepreneurs?
We give the same generic advice to everyone and it generally consists of phrases like:
Unless it is going to make the world better, why do it?
Don’t overthink it, just do it.
You will only know if it is going to work if you actually do it.
What is stopping you?
4- Based on the following description, how would you relate to the Mayshad Woman Philosophy ?
To Be a Mayshad Woman, is a Choice a Woman makes to live a stimulated life with a positive Philosophy based on Gratitude, Acceptance and Accomplishment, in order to Be Who She Wants to Be.
She handles different Aspects of her Life with Confidence , and makes sure to always remain Herself, guarding her own values.
She is a free spirit, who designs her own Life inspiring others to do the same.
This is a fantastic description and I would use it to introduce many of my peers, I hope they would say the same about me! I can’t think of a single aspect of the Mayshad woman which does not reflect my value for and approach to life.