LITTEROINTITYÖ / VALKEA VASA OY
Tämä on Creative Finlandin ”Mitä kuuluu” -podcast, jossa kyselemme kuulumisia luovilta aloilta tässä maailman ajassa. Tervetuloa mukaan!
Essi: How are you, Jesse Tran, the CEO of RENS Original?
Jesse: Hi, Essi. Thanks for having me today. I am doing great. Just got back from Vietnam. You know, after a long business trip. Now I am in Finland again. Great to be back! Yes so, I am actually originally from Vietnam and I have lived in Finland for quite a long time. Almost a decade. I came here to study as a student and then, you know, and then I graduated from Aalto University in Mikkeli. And then I just ended to start my career in here. Yeah, I actually got married to a Finnish woman, also here. But that is why I stay in Finland for a long time. And even now though we are not together anymore, so RENS was launched for the first time to the public in summer of 2019. It was then we launched ”the worst” first, sneakers made from coffee waste and plastic waste. And we got, RENS got the most succesful Fashioncrab campaign in the Nordics so, you know, we raised almost half a million euros in one and a half month from customers in over a hundred coutries. So we are very happy and the prime has been growing since. So, at first there were just two of us: me and my co-founder Son. But now we are a family of 20 people. We have 20 employees in Helsinki and four employees in our research and development in manufacturing office in Vietnam. So, yeah, we are quite a midsize, you know, we are quite a bigger company now than just the two of us. And we have been growing quite well ever since.
Essi: Yeah, thank you. That sounds really interesting. Would you like to share a little bit more of how this Covid year has been affecting your business or has it?
Jesse: Yeah, like lot of things, like have changed...You are actually right. So we cannot, you know, easily travel as before so it can affect our working schedule because, you know, we used to need to go to lot of places talking with customers, talking with partners, talking with like factories in all over places in Europe, in The US, in China, in Vietnam. But now we cannot do that anymore, so you know... But we got really lucky that we... are staying or surviving, growing quite well in the pandemic. Of course, a lot of things change like the global logistic system is totally messed up because of Covid. You walk it like day by day, because you never know when there’s an out bracket at the location of your factory, your warehouse or what will happen to the shipping. Containers, for example like a totally unrelated Covid-situation, like the Suez canal. Then you know, it like surrenderly blocked the shipment and all that stuff. As a global business, you are subject to all this global events. It is pretty fun but also it is really challenging. Especially in such a volatile time like this pandemic. You were really lucky that we have support from our investors, from... Our whole team work really hard you know, so ... And we also have the support from the Finnish government, you know. So, we got all this support from the Finnish government, the Vietnamese government as well. So, you know, helping us in getting the flight and, you know, since we came yet from Vietnam we actually succesfully arranged our production. We moved a 100 % of our production originally from mainland China to Vietnam. It’s pretty good. You know, I was said that we were quite... some of like among the few really lucky companies.
Essi: Yeah, it’s good to hear that you are doing well. I was thinking, would you like to share something about starting a start-up business in Finland? Because I know that you have been talking about that quite a bit and that is sort of – if I have understood correctly – something close to your heart and you believe it’s a ... it’s a good place... Finland is good place to start a start-up business? So would you share some thoughts on that?
Jesse: Yeah, of course just like, you know... because I have been all my whole career in here, so that is why, you know, so in my opinion Helsinki is specifically the best place ever to start a kind of start-up, especially in Europe. I don’t know about the U.S. but I have been all over the places in Europe and here I think that we have a lot of opportunities. The support system is like, you know, second to none in Europe. I feel like there is so many opportunities here. You can get a lot of talents, you know. We are class talents in Finland without having to pay, without you know, having to pay a lot, much more money you got to do in London for example. And I think our support system from the government is really good in Finland. And, you know, I thing that that chance could not be where we are right now without the support from the Finnish government. Yeah. And yet when I started my start-up career – so this is my second one. My first one I started in 2016 with a different team, different start-up. I think that I could not be able to actually be arranged anywhere else as I am from Finland because you know. Back then like, you know, from the Aalto entrepreneurship, society, to the Finnish government, Business Finland – everyone has been helping us and our team a lot throughout our journey. So it’s a real blessing to have an opportunity start a start-up here.
Essi: I was thinking that if we could talk a little bit about the ecological point of you and you mentioned a little bit at the beginning what RENS is all about. But if you could go a little bit deeper and sort of share how you can bring the ecological point of view into fashion business and what kind of possibilities there are to an ecological business like RENS in fashion industry?
Jesse: Yes so, is this a ... when we think about it, our whole basic thesis is quite simple. Actually so, Son and I started RENS because we saw in the market, there’s a lack of sustainable but really cool fashion products for the young generation, the cost of from like dimenstrium brand I usually really bad. For the environment while you know, there’s sustainable items that are really ugly and then you know, nobody likes ugly stuff and ugly but expensive stuff. You know and then you just have just sustainable like you have a sustainable tag on it. That is why we created RENS because we want to create like a fashion product or a fashion brand that is both sustainable and cool and really hip, suitable for the young generation, young millennials and generation Z. So that is the whole basic thesis of RENS and we are still keeping the same thesis up until now and we are still, you know, like we are still developing a lot more products than just footwear and all of our products could be made from like recycle and waste-based materials. And all of them will have like amazing really high-tech functions and technologies. So that is why and that is the whole basic thesis of RENS. And we are still keeping the same thesis now.
Yeah so, we want to bring sustainability to the mass because we saw that RENS is a Finnish brand. But we want to make it like a global brand. That can reach all kind of, you know, all kind of class and all kind of customers because we don’t want to just be like a cool hip brand and only for environmental conscious people. We want to bring the, like really high-tech and sustainable products to everybody. Even in like other countries that they don’t care much about sustainability in Europe or the U.S. So that is our dream because we believe that bringing sustainability to the mass is like the only way that we can fight climate change. Because, you know, Finland is a really small country in Europe and as a whole, really small compared like to what we have there. And if we can actually make RENS like a global sustainable fashion brands, we are actually helping to reduce significantly the amount of trashes and waste going to the lane field every year. And we can have more time for scientists to actually have time to find ways to reverse the affect of climate change. And that is all because of us all.
Essi: Thank you for the interview Jesse Tran.
Jesse: All right, thanks, thanks Essi. And thanks for having me here. It was fun to have interview today.