Episode #28 - The luxury goods business turning fire hose into handbags

Episode 28, supported by:

Show notes

The year was 2004 and, fresh from setting up a green-packaging business in Hong Kong, Kresse Wesling had arrived in London to work out what to do next in her life.

She was also in training for the London Marathon with her running schedule taking her all over London as she prepared for the capital’s gruelling 26-mile race. One day she decided that one of her longer training runs could be combined with a trip to Croydon Old Town in South London, home to one of the London Fire Brigade’s largest depots.

It was hot and sticky. And as Kresse slowed her run and set eyes on her destination, she saw a mountain of old fire hoses coiled up on the roof of the building, shining a glowing red in the warm sun. She thought, ‘that is so beautiful. I have to have them’,” and have them she did.

A few months before her chance meeting with a mountain of old fire hoses, in a bid to better understand the impact of production technique’s being adopted by her packaging company, Kresse had enrolled on an ISO 14001 auditing training course. It was on this course that she met with a bunch of Fire Brigade’s finest who proceeded to explain the challenges the organization faces – leaky old buildings, lots of big appliances to run, dealing with plenty of chemistry. “Oh, and the hoses are a problem”, they told her. “They have to be decommissioned at the end of their life and it all ends up in landfill”. The revelation was music to Kresse’s ears and the chance conversation would change her new life in London forever.

Fast forward several more years, and Elvis and Kresse is firmly established in the luxury goods market, picking up many plaudits for collecting many different wastes and creating beautiful products with them.

Enjoy this latest Better Business Show story.

And for more on Elvis and Kresse, check out the website.

Kresse in her Kent-based HQ

Kresse in her Kent-based HQ

And Elvis and Kresse overnight bag

And Elvis and Kresse overnight bag

Kresse with her partner in life and work, Elvis

Kresse with her partner in life and work, Elvis

Kresse with the decommissioned fire hose from London

Kresse with the decommissioned fire hose from London


This week's news round-up wit Vikki Knowles features:

- Transparency International's new report on poor anti-corruption performance of multinationals working in emerging markets.
- Tesco's decision to stop selling caged hen eggs.
- Bloomberg's story on the pay gap between execs in the UK retail sector and the average worker; and
- Ford's truly impressive collaboration with a tequila business to make alternative plastics.


Our Big Ideas for a Sustainable Future segment of the show, in association with Terrafiniti, continues this week, as we celebrate the launch of its brand new series of e-books which offer thoughts, provocations and big ideas for how we might create a sustainable future on a planet of 9 billion people.

This week, in the fourth and penultimate part of the series, Joss Tantram, a founding partner of Terrafiniti, explores the concept of minimum consensus and how it might be applied to solving today's sustainability challenges.

The Towards 9 Billion ebook series is out now and can be downloaded for free at the Terrafiniti website.