Eco-Fashion Wins Big at Cartier Women's Initiative Award

Source4Style photo

Photo: courtesy Cartier Women's Initiative Award

After a second round of the Women's Initiative Award competition, Cartier names the 2011 Laureates at the Annual Global Meeting of the Women's Forum in Deauville, France.

In July, I was excited to see eco-fashion entrepreneurs among the 18 finalists to stand out amidst more than 1,000 applicants, and now, they've won big: Summer Rayne Oakes and Benita Singh of Source4Style take home the trophy for North America and Kresse Wesling of Elvis & Kresse wins in Europe.

summer rayne oakes source4style photo

Summer Rayne Oakes looks over fabric swatches at Source4Style. Photo: courtesy Cartier Women's Initiative Award

All18 finalists received business coaching from Cartier, INSEAD and McKinsey to help them prepare for the latest round of the competition. Finalists met in Deauville for a week of workshops, meeting with the press, and jury presentations. And on October 14, 2011, winners in six different regions were announced:

Benita Singh and Summer Rayne Oakes' sustainable sourcing marketplace, Source4Style, is helping change the way designers design products, making it less time consuming and easier to find ethical and environmentally-friendly materials. Kresse Wesling is leading the charge on recycling industrial waste into luxury accessories with Elvis & Kresse.

Kresse fire hose photo

Kresse Wesling of Elvis & Kresse. Photo: courtesy Cartier Women's Initiative Award

Recycling, sustainability, and social good is the name of the game for other laureates who also take home the prize: Colombia's Carolina Guerra works to recycle highly toxic waste; Kenya's Lorna Rutto recycles plastic waste into durable fencing posts; Lebanon's Rana El Chemaitelly runs a series of programs to teach children engineering skills; and China's Chunhong Chen has company that makes a water-saving toilet.

Each winner receives $20,000 in funding and one year of business coaching, plus access to networking. The cash prize can go quickly, especially for companies in start-up mode, but the full package--funding, coaching, and exposure--can give these businesses the competitive edge and staying power they need to succeed long-term. From gaining visibility around the world (and appealing to potential investors) to further realizing their business' potential and vision with coaching, these up-and-comers have a good year ahead.

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