Ashley Walsh

Welcoming Lost In Samsara: the Story Behind The Ethical Accessories Brand

In a world where consumerism often overshadows consciousness, there are visionaries who strive to make a difference. Marvi Scala, the co founder and director of Lost in Samsara, is one such individual. Lost in Samsara is more than just a brand; it’s a movement dedicated to ethical fashion and sustainable living. With a mission to empower artisans from marginalized communities, Lost In Samsara is a platform that not only showcases beautiful, handcrafted products but also tells the inspiring stories behind them.

Join us as we delve into an enlightening conversation with Marvi. We explore the journey of Lost in Samsara from its inception to its impact today, uncover the challenges and triumphs along the way, and gain insight into Marvi’s unwavering commitment to ethical practices. Whether you’re a conscious consumer, an aspiring entrepreneur, or simply someone seeking inspiration, this interview promises to be a beacon of motivation and a testament to the power of purposeful living.

What inspired you to start this social enterprise?

We founded Lost in Samsara in 2015 for people like us that wanted to wear the values they believe in. We wanted to expand the already available choice of modern ethical accessories so we started creating our own. We believe that small actions count and that small actions multiplied by millions can change the world. We cannot change the system overnight but we can take action every day by supporting a different and fairer system where we all respect each other and the planet we live in.

How does your enterprise aim to create a positive social or environmental impact?

Lost in Samsara wants to help provide a solution to the amount of discarded materials dumped into landfills by recycling it and creating accessories. The creation of these products allows us to provide employment opportunities for small cooperatives of artisans that come from underprivileged backgrounds and are victims of landmines or affected by polio.

What are some unique challenges you face in running a social enterprise compared to a traditional business?

Running a social enterprise is definitely challenging. I believe the main challenge it’s staying true to your mission and commitments. For example, advanced payments to the artisans as per Fair Trade terms can become difficult if you lack capital. Or finding solutions to reduce the amount of plastic, like using biodegradable packaging, usually come at a higher price. We have been trying also to find a partner to provide repairs, but it becomes more difficult to find one when you work with specific materials like inner tubes. Despite the challenges, I also believe that running a social enterprise it is extremely rewarding.

Can you share some specific examples of the positive impact your organisation has made?

Unfortunately, in Cambodia there is not much support for people who are affected by a disability and finding a job becomes almost impossible. The project we partner with to create our upcycled accessories has helped provide job opportunities by giving vocational training specifically to them. By making the accessories, they are able to provide for their families and, in the future, they might be able to find some other employment too. The project gives them a starting point, an opportunity that otherwise they wouldn’t have.

Some of the artisans’ stories have been told in a video made by the Cambodian ONE TV (https://youtu.be/4zoZUGjXqJ0)
Also, so far, we have been able to recycle 1,198kg of material that would have been destined to go into landfills. We have also planted 1,814 trees together with our charity partner One Tree Planted.

What role do partnerships and collaborations play in your enterprise?

Partnerships and collaborations play a very important role. We are proud members of BAFTS – Fair Trade Network UK and Social Enterprise UK. They are both amazing communities where values are shared. We have learned a lot from more established businesses, been part of pilot programs like Ebay for Change, collaborated on designs and met incredible people. There is a great sense of community in the social enterprise world. There is not competition and everyone is willing to help out, which is incredible and so inspiring! Business can be done differently and social enterprises prove that.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your journey so far, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was definitely during the pandemic. We used to be at Spitalfield Market in London and that was where our main income was coming from. But during lockdown we had to pivot and fast. We moved everything online and started to build the wholesale side of the business. But what really helped us and kept the artisans working was collaborating with other social enterprises within BAFTS to produce face masks from scrap fabric that were then sold in the shops within the network. The face masks helped provide an income to the artisans and producer groups during a very difficult time and allowed us and others to keep the businesses going.

Are there any upcoming projects or initiatives you’re particularly excited about?

We have recently started to collaborate with Greenspark to rescue 10 plastic bottles for every order via Plastic Bank. Plastic Bank® builds ethical recycling ecosystems in coastal communities while simultaneously creating positive economic opportunities for those who helped collect it. It also promotes the circular economy by monetising plastic waste. Their collectors receive a premium for the materials they collect which helps them provide basic family necessities. The collected material is reborn as Social Plastic® which can be easily reintegrated into products and packaging as part of a closed-loop supply chain.

How do you see the role of social enterprises evolving in the next decade?

I believe social enterprises are the future and they are changing the way business is done on a global scale.  They are demonstrating a viable alternative to the business as usual by prioritising social and environmental sustainability, and proving that economic success doesn’t have to be linked to exploitative practices. In fact, social enterprises have proven more resilient when facing period of crisis like the pandemic. I believe that in the next decade social enterprises will have a great role to play. They are living proof that profit-making does not have to come before the wellbeing of people and planet. Business as usual is simply not sustainable in the face of the current climate crisis. By focusing on a different bottom line that encompasses the well-being of people, the preservation of the planet, and the pursuit of sustainable profit, social enterprises can lead by example, and usher us towards a future that is just for both people and the environment.

Do you have a favourite Lost In Samsara product?

I actually have two. The Hoxton and the Hackney. They were the very first two backpacks we developed together with the artisans. They were only doing wallets before. So that made us all very proud!

What is one message you would like to share with our readers about the importance of social enterprises and why they should support them?

Social enterprises are designed to bring positive impact and by supporting them, we can reshape the future of business and with it, the future of the planet.

Shop our full range of Lost In Samsara products Here 

View our full Fathers Day gift range Here 

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