Tanja Kosar, CEO at CEO GENE
CEO GENE – the German platform for sustainable newcomer designers has been called into life by project manager, Tanja Kosar, in 2019.
A firm belief in encouraging other women to believe in their talents and dreams created the platform’s name -a true passion for fair wages, sustainable textiles and seeing young people succeed at what they do, created the business behind it. Customers shopping at CEO GENE support small European brands, they buy gorgeous timeless clothing and jewelry that can be worn season after season after season and with every purchase being made – 2% is being donated to the UN WOMEN Foundation, helping other women in need.
Why did you decide to specialize in vegan / sustainable fashion?
I’ve always cared a lot about nature & fashion interested me as a young woman hugely. Both were just never compatible or so I thought. In my mind I was either a nature lover OR a fashion person. I could not see how to be a fashionable nature lover – it was just not compatible. While working as a fashion blogger during my time at university, I was able to look behind the curtain of the Fast Fashion Industry for the first time in my life. What I experienced there made me think – is this what I really want to promote? Is this what I want to wear on my body? The more I learned about the conditions in which big companies produce cheap unhealthy clothing – the more I wanted it to stop. It made me gasp, to be precise. After starting my first job as a project manager in the car industry, I worked all day wearing business clothes. At that point I had already tried to switch into buying clothes and bags more conciously by selected sustainable brands – however, I was unable to really « find » brands that specialize in making sustainable business clothing for women. Clothing that really look gorgeous but is completely produced out of innovative healthy textiles and pays fair wages to its garment workers. I couldn’t find it. And this is how my vision of one german plattform grew over the years – a plattform, where a woman who loves minimalistic businesswear could find all these amazing small local brands who have specialized in creating sustainable business clothing and accessoires. This is how CEO GENE came into life! Now it also works as a kind of acceleration program, helping these amazing young designers to reach more people with their brand. I think sustainable fashion is the future and the new normal – people should always ask themselves: what & who am I supporting here with my purchase ? And what exactly am I wearing on my skin? If you don’t know the answers to these questions and are unable to find out more by doing research – you should not buy the product. I’ve learned over time that your love for nature does not have to be incompatible with your love for fashion. It is possible to love both and do good when shopping much more conciously & supporting sustainable brands.
What are the main challenges you face?
One of the main challenges we face is that even though sustainable fashion is trend these days and within the industry already much respected – the main general public is often times still treating products that are « sustainably produced » EQUAL « ugly ». Which is absolutely not the case anymore. We also struggle to educate the customer why sustainably produced clothing and bags are more expensive than the ones from your fast fashion retailer. People are so used to find 3,00 € earrings, 15,00€ pants or 25,00€ (fake) leather bags in their local shopping mall – that they raise their eyebrows in horror when hearing our pricing of the products for the first time. What they simply don’t see is how all the sustainable designers have much much higher costs in first of all buying the innovative textiles and then in producing their products in local family-owned factories which requires much higher wages than producing products in Asia. This is why we work really hard to explain again and again how the prices actually come together. We try to educate people to really only buy something they need and to care for their products instead of throwing it out as trash. Back in the days when people did not have much and had to sew their own clothing out of one piece of fabric which they had either made themselves or bought for a big part of their savings on the local market – they created this piece of clothing or accessory with so much care and love. And after having to put in so much hard work into that garment – they naturally ended up caring for it deeply. Repairing it, cleaning it gently, celebrating its existence. This kind of love for our garments and accessoires needs to be restored in humanity urgently, i think.
Why is CANUSSA at CEO GENE?
The brand CANUSSA is represented at CEO GENE because we really love their bags and are convinced that they are on the right track with their vision. CANUSSA produces vegan products, reusing PET bottles and making it all look absolutely stunning, timeless and elegant. You can find their passion for nature and fashion within every single product they make. The bags are also very durable and of high quality – they will therefore last years and years. This is exactly what we are looking for in sustainable brands that we represent at CEO GENE.