Christina’s move to Hong Kong and her extensive Asian travels gave her insight into the fashion and textile industries’ negative environmental impacts, and that’s why she ventured into this are of work.
What’s your story?
I’m a sustainable fashion advocate with 11 years pushing for a less polluting fashion industry under my belt; including being the Founder of NGO Redress (www.redress.com.hk), with a mission to reduce waste in the fashion industry, and now Co-Founder of The R Collective (www.thercollective.com), the upcycled fashion brand and social impact business that upcycles luxury brands waste in collaboration with emerging sustainable fashion designers for the likes of Barneys New York and Lane Crawford. Other careers under my 40 year old belt include journalism and, believe it or not, dentistry. Yes, I was a dentist in London years ago before my passion for environmentalism and purpose-driven business kicked off!
What excites you most about your industry?
On the good side – fashion is a hugely creative industry that reflect our times – from the world around us, the economy, politics and how our society changes – and so fashion helps us to communicate who we are to the world. On the bad side – the fashion industry is one of the world’s most polluting industries that, through wild over-consumption and cheaper and faster production, has (rightfully) earned itself a bad reputation as a filthy and heartless industry.
The reason I love these polarised themes is that in between is the opportunity to innovate. I believe that fashion can be a force for good; and that’s where my excitement lies in the intersection of creating stunning clothes with heart and soul that can dress the world in fashion-relevant clothes whilst being sensitive to the environment and empowering positive working opportunities in the supply chain.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I moved to Hong Kong from London 12 years ago with my husband and two kids off the back of us wanting to explore the world and raise our kids (we have 4 now) in a different culture. (I was raised in South Africa and I loved the influences this gave me.). Moving to Hong Kong all those years ago changed our lives, and shaped who we are now. For me, the move to Hong Kong and my extensive Asian travels gave me insight into the fashion and textile industries’ negative environmental impacts, and that’s fundamentally why I ventured into this are of work.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong for its cut-throat and 24/7 go getter attitude. Hong Kong, like hospitals and airports, never sleeps!
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“It’s not the size of the carrot that matters, it’s how good it tastes”, spoken by my father whilst gardening aged 8.
Who inspires you?
My mother inspire me; at 73 she’s still working on writing around her PhD; she’s a top swimmer in the Masters World Championships; she’s taking GSCE Italian; and she’s likely to be found doing her gardening in vintage Vivienne Westwood with a smile on her beautiful face!
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The humans are not perfect. I had reached the age of 40 thinking that I, and those around me, can conquer any mountain at whatever cost through sheer determination and brut force. But I’ve since realised that some mountains, really, are impossible to climb and realising this and our limitations is an important reality that we have to accept.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I’m allergic to regret.
How do you unwind?
I listen to BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs, mainly to learn from other people, from all walks of life and how they rose to success and how they dealt with hardship.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan; I love cycling and Taiwan is one of my favourite places on Earth!
Everyone in business should read this book:
Poorly Made in China, Paul Midler. It’s an old one – but one that gives interesting insight into the conundrums that take place within China’s manufacturing industry.
Shameless plug for your business:
The R Collective is one of the world’s most exciting sustainable fashion brands and our debut collections hit Barneys New York and Lane Crawford. The fact that we’ve got textile waste, that would otherwise have hit landfill, onto these distinguished rails does all the plugging for us!
How can people connect with you?
I’m on [email protected]
I’m an Instagram girl: @DrChristinaDean
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.