Imagine the founders of H&M, Dolce& Gabbana and Adidas among other famous fashion companies being conservationists. Think of cloth lines they will be launching, think of their fashion show runways, will they have them anyway? The answer can be controversial, but these modern times are likely to provoke “YES”. Most of the modern fashion designers have been thinking of how sustainable their designs are and are more conscious about the environmental aspects of their work.
One of our scholars; Gugulethu is proving that to us.
Gugulethu V. Dube is a second-year International Business and Trade student and a scholar at the School of Wildlife Conservation. She is an emerging social entrepreneur, having founded Seam-Less — a fashion waste management company that tackles the make-dispose-culture of the fashion industry and its contribution to the linear economy and climate change. Seam-Less emerged as the winning team on the Hult Prize on-campus competition and was also a top 6 finalist in the Hult Prize Abuja Regional Competition.
She is highly motivated by sustainability, project management, social justice, and creative and business strategy. She seeks to advocate and learn more about these subjects through digital storytelling and academic research.
Gugulethu is also deeply passionate about women empowerment and the development of the African youth, which has allowed her to work with organisations such as Brave South Africa as well as the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University.
Follow every bit of this story as we had a chat with her about her passion for sustainability in the fashion industry as well as her journey as a student and scholar at the African Leadership University.
The most interesting fact about yourself?
Growing up I wanted to be an attorney, that might still happen. You never know. I also have two biggest fears; flying and not living up to my potential.
What is your ambition?
The most prominent ambitions are to tap into spaces that have previously not been occupied by black people or women within the business and conservation space, therefore paving the way for more black people. To put that into perspective, that would be running a social enterprise with conservation at its core. I want to also advocate for ownership and natural resource management, instead of black people continually taking up conventional roles within conservation. I also aspire to utilise creativity and strategy as a tool to solve social ills within my community.
What will you describe as your most meaningful moment at SOWC
Choosing one specific moment will be doing a disservice to all the great moments that I’ve had at the SOWC. From insightful sessions with Conservationists in Residence that have shaped my path in conservation, working on various projects with other scholars or the pure guidance of the SOWC staff. I was also lucky to embark on a conservation road trip across Kenya in May 2019, exploring the intersection between girl’s rights and conservation. Being part of the Hult-Prize on Campus winning team for a project I founded in August 2019 which addresses the environmental impact of fashion across its value chain. Furthermore, being in the management team that worked on delivering the Wildlife Conservation Course in Rwanda in partnership with Oxford University.
As a culmination of all these moments, I had an epiphany that conservation is not as linear as I thought it to be before SOWC, but rather one chooses a career path and then tailors conservation within that career.
What is that key moment in your life before ALU that always resonates with your journey today?
Spearheading and co-writing a radio advert that was a finalist at the renowned Loeries Advertising Awards.
What does the future look like after ALU SOWC?
I think life after ALU SOWC does not stop but continues. In the formative years, I would like to assimilate myself in the conservation space as a business strategist or intrapreneur within a conservancy or in a sustainability department within a traditional company. I also want to consult for various companies on how they can improve their ecological footprint and of course, being a social entrepreneur.