Dec 23, 2022
Houdini CEO Eva Karlsson looks back at 2022 and makes a promise for the year ahead.
As we’re nearing the end of the year, I want to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude, share some questions, give you the answer to a long-awaited one, and make you a promise. And then of course, wish you a happy new year and a magical start of 2023!
“Life is like a woven fabric of relations” That is how our dear friend and deep ecologist Nils Faarlund describes our world - and how true it is. Our state-of-the-art products are made possible thanks to four billion years of natural innovation combined with the fine tuning done by the dream team I have the luxury of working with at Houdini. Our work is made possible thanks to our amazing innovation-, supplier- and manufacturing partners, together with whom we keep on pushing boundaries for what is possible. And last but not least, our work is made possible thanks to all of you: our field-tester friends, customers and users, who have become the greatest supporters, co-creators and ambassadors a company could ever dream of. It’s an entire universe of connections and relations that brought us here. And for that, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of you and for everything that’s woven into our wonderful world!
As I’m writing this, the UN Biodiversity Summit, COP15, is ongoing in Montreal. According to leading scientists, the negotiations will decide the fate of the living world. Pella Thiel, a true champion for nature, is representing Ecocide Law in Montreal. She’s expressed there’s a mind-blowing gap between where they are in the negation process, compared to where they ought to be. She continues: “If we cannot even agree to hold people in power accountable for the worst cases of environmental destruction, how on earth could we reach the ambition of living in harmony with nature?”.
Another partner organization of ours, the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, is in Montreal sharing the science behind the Half-Earth project. The fact is that by protecting 50% of all land and ocean on this planet, we could safeguard 85% of species. As the late E.O. Wilson so eloquently described it: ”We could share this planet of ours. All life could prosper. It would be humanity’s greatest achievement”.
We have voiced our support for Ecocide Law for over a decade and proposed the Half-Earth project as the compelling vision for humanity to unite behind. The question is; will we muster the willpower, guts and action to save the living world?
A brilliant thought-provoking question that was recently thrown out during an explorative session on regeneration, organized by Doberman. I wouldn’t want to realize I was living somebody else’s, so I will return to this question now and then, just to make sure. For more brilliance and expanded perspectives, follow Julian Bleecker and Sally by Doberman and ask yourself, whose dream are you living?
One of you asked us this question recently, and we wanted to share the answer with all of you. While it is important to set big, hairy, audacious goals and to do everything we can to reach them, it is equally important to share outcomes and be honest about our shortcomings and learnings. Brace yourselves for a fairly lengthy answer – we hope it might reflect some the necessary complexity of our work.
Although we have come further than most brands with 87% of our products being circular by design, we have not managed to reach 100% within the deadline we set for ourselves in 2016. That is when we formulated our 50-year journey forward to nature. And we want to make it clear that we’d have dropped the last few products holding us back from achieving this goal, if it wasn’t for the important lessons we learned during these years. Had we not seen the likelihood of achieving recyclability for these garments in the very near future, they’d have been dropped. If we hadn’t learned thanks to a user survey back in 2019 that for instance our Power Houdi opens the door to a radically different vision on what our clothes should be, we would’ve dropped it. But we did see a glimpse of a revolutionary innovation for recycling these particular textiles in projects we’re a part of. And we did learn that our Power Houdi turns consumers into care-takers and champions for a #LiveLargeWithLess way of life, see survey. And so, we did learn that in order to achieve our goal of 100% circularity, we had to leave room for reflection and adaptation. We have to be patient a little longer, never lose sight of the bigger picture – and keep on working.
As you might know, we have a take-back system for recycling in place since 2007. Out of the worn-out products we get back, none end up as waste. This is a promise we made to ourselves and to you, and we’re sticking to it. Worn-out circular products are recycled. Worn-out garments that are not yet recyclable are stored in our warehouse (and have been since 2007), while we wait for the emerging recycling technologies to be up and running. Where the easier way out in our current system is to discard them, we take full producers’ responsibility for our garments and the precious natural resources they are made of. I would encourage every brand and retailer to consider the same.
Among the 2022-goals we set for ourselves, we did achieve most. For the true gear heads among us: Our continued dedication for the development of regenerative fiber alternatives, will result in some exciting Houdini products, ready to be launched over the coming seasons. Secondly, we have achieved extraordinary traceability and transparency within our value chain, most of the time down to farm, fiber and chemistry level. The textile value chain is global and complex, and being able to share more detailed frameworks, plan to reach certain goals and collect and share more data is not a given in this industry. With that said, we are aware that our communication about this traceability and transparency to you, our users, is still very limited. But, now that we have reached this goal internally, our next step is to show and tell! Stay tuned.
And finally, possibly the most fun one, we have reintroduced Houdini Hangouts this year! Together with our partners, we’re able to invite you to join incredible outdoor experiences, insightful lectures and much more on our journey forward to nature. Keep an eye out!
On our journey forward to nature, we are continuing our work towards full circularity, enabling Half-Earth and becoming regenerative. To have a 100% circular ecosystem in place by 2030 is a massive challenge and entails the entire Houdini metabolism and its ripple effects. We might have come further than most, but I can humbly say that we don’t have all the solutions. However, I can promise you this: Houdini will continue to play its part, without compromise, always with honesty and open source. I hope you will continue being our co-creators on this extraordinary ride!
With that said, I wish you a happy new year and a magical start of 2023.
Eva Karlsson, CEO