AllGreen Member Spotlight - Lori Cunningham

Lori Cunningham, Founder of Loskey

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career background? 

The story of Loskey started more than 25 years ago, when I was an idealistic twenty-something working in International Development in Washington, DC. I loved the purpose of my work, but I soon found myself frustrated by the inefficiency of working with big government organisations. I left Development for a career in business, but never stopped thinking about my original career and how I might do things differently if given the chance. After building a career in Digital, getting married and having two wonderful sons, I decided it was time to return to Development, but I wanted to build a business that would focus on women’s economic empowerment. My purpose was clear but I needed a product, one where women could participate across the entire supply chain.  It didn’t take me long to focus on t-shirts – I have been on a lifelong quest for the perfect t-shirt – and so Loskey was born.  The name is a combination of my sons’ names – Lucas and Oscar (Lukey and Osk for short) – because they are my ultimate inspiration.

What makes your product sustainable? 

For the core purpose to be met the production of the t-shirts had to be organic, ethical and sustainable. All of our tees are made from 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton, but the key piece of our sustainability commitment is the tees themselves. They are the antithesis of fast fashion, which was one of my original inspirations – to create a t-shirt that would last not just beyond a few washes but for years. By using GOTS-certified organic cotton, we ensure that our raw material is produced in the best possible way. When it comes to the creation of our cotton jersey, we have also ensured that the cotton has a weight that is best for long-term wear. 

How did you start incorporating sustainability more into your business practices? When did you first realise this was necessary?

Soon after starting the journey from concept to brand, I realised that sustainability had to be one of our core guiding principles. I also realised how little I really knew about the impact that fashion has on our planet. While I was at the research stage of Loskey, I uncovered some startling facts: detailed quantitative research demonstrates that fashion is the fifth largest industrial polluter in the world. How could the clothes on our back be destroying our planet to such an extent? Digging deeper, I learned that there were three key factors driving this shocking reality: the use of toxins in production and dyes, the rise of the phenomenon known as ‘fast fashion’ and the alarming effects on our water supply from man-made materials.

What there a stat or a figure that made you take stock and realise that you need to play a part in sustainability? 

All of the above, in addition to the fact that consumption of fashion has grown 400% in the last few decades and that 21 billion pounds of clothing wind up in landfill every year in the US alone.

What’s the biggest challenge to having a sustainability-focused business?

Thinking through the implications of what we do at every single stage of the supply chain.

What are your biggest learnings?

That there is a radiating effect on the planet of every choice we make, from the brands we buy to the materials our clothes are made from.

Which businesses do you admire in this space?

There are a large number of brands claiming to be sustainable, but on closer inspection only a small number are actually delivering. I admire the commitment of the footwear company Po-Zu to be transparent and sustainable across their supply chain, as well as fashion brand Eileen Fisher.

What’s one thing you believe everybody should be doing to lead a more sustainable life? 

Research your brands and support those that are truly committed. Consumers have the real power to drive change.

What would you like to see in the future with sustainability at its core? 

The fashion industry!

Do you follow anybody on Instagram that’s great at getting the message out there?

So many — @besmacc, @mt.sustainability, @thesequinist.

What are your top tips for living more sustainably at home?

Do everything possible to reduce your single use plastic to zero and be mindful of how you wash and care for your clothes – plastic microfibres from clothing are one of the biggest threats to our water systems.

If you could invent anything, what would it be? 

A method to remove plastic microfibres from water.