BOZENA JANKOWSKA - sustainable finance pioneer creating an impact in fashion

BOZENA JANKOWSKA - sustainable finance pioneer creating an impact in fashion

There’s something inside some of us that no matter where you turn it’s there, it drives us and at times it can consume us. It is the fire inside of us and a reason to live. For Bozena Jankowska that special something has always been the environment. When she wrote an essay at school about the Brazilian rainforest who could have known that it would ignite a lifelong commitment to bring environmental and social issues to the forefront of conversation and business practices. 

When Bozena started her 16 year career in finance, sustainable investing was a relatively new concept. Starting as the one and only ethical analyst at Allianz Global Investors to years later leaving as Head of Environmental, Social and Governance to pursue building her own luxury fashion brand, Bozena had seen the sustainable finance industry completely transform, in part due to her hard work. 

From investigating cases of cotton plants being pollinated in India by hand, by children in bonded labour, to creating ‘The Ode to the Bee’ collections in partnership with Buglife (using sustainably sourced REACH certified silk and wool from UK based manufacturers) you can see the link between people and the environment is very clear for Bozena. 

Not being afraid to pick up the phone or visit somewhere and ask difficult questions to get to bottom of underlying issues is a skill that Bozena acquired from working in sustainable finance yet it fits perfectly with building a sustainable fashion brand. We need to feel confident that our choices (of fabrics, factory, distribution, packaging…) don’t have a negative impact on people or the world we live in. The only way we can do this is to research, learn, ask questions, see for ourselves and make a judgement based on evidence and trust. 

Working in partnership is key for Bozena. A relationship built on trust with both sides knowing what is expected from them is essential. There are not many (if any other!) brands who make-to-order in London with a percentage of sales going to non-governmental organisations. However Bozena has made it possible through forming committed partnerships. 

A Positive Luxury ‘Brand to Trust’, Bozena Jankowska’s designs are certainly influenced by her time in the City, as the garments are unique, luxury women’s workwear. As Bozena did with sustainable finance industry she is paving the way forward for a new kind of fashion business, one that has sustainability woven into every part of it. 

In this podcast we talk to Bozena about how her lifelong commitment to bringing environmental and social issues to the forefront of conversation has created an award-winning luxury fashion brand.

Listen to podcast above, on iTunesSoundCloud or Stitcher

When I left the City back in 2016 there was still quite a lot of work to be done and there were still a lot of companies doing greenwashing around sustainability. So my job in the City was to try and work through that greenwashing and really get to the bottom what are you actually doing, and what impact is it making for your business.
— Bozena Jankowska, Black Neon Digital Podcast Episode 17
There are two aspect of it (made-to-order), I’m going to be completely honest, there’s the sustainability aspect and the business aspect. I am small start-up brand and like any small start-up brand you only have limited resources and limited funds. You have to be very careful about how you use those funds so you can be sustainable in the long term…There’s only a small handful of brands and consumers that really who really buy into that (slow fashion) and are prepared to wait (only 10 days).
— Bozena Jankowska, Black Neon Digital Podcast Episode 17
 Bozena Jankowska sketch of the honesty blouse

Bozena Jankowska sketch of the honesty blouse

The thing about running your own business - that nobody really tells you about - is it’s really lonely…You have moments of self-doubt, you have what someone called it the other day, the bathroom floor moment.
— Bozena Jankowska, Black Neon Digital Podcast Episode 17
I guess you can tell intuitively tell whether you click with some or not. Whether it’s hard work to talk to them, and you just pick up on that. And that’s another thing I’ve learnt that a lot of it is following your gut instinct.
— Bozena Jankowska, Black Neon Digital Podcast Episode 17

portrait photos of brooke taken by bec o'conner for black neon digital

other imagery courtesy of bozena jankowska

podcast recorded at bozena jankowska studio in west london

why size is a big issue for fashion

why size is a big issue for fashion

FASHION ROUNDTABLE x BLACK NEON DIGITAL x ASHISH - fashion is a global conversation

FASHION ROUNDTABLE x BLACK NEON DIGITAL x ASHISH - fashion is a global conversation