Most of us, when we have a cause that we feel strongly about, donate to a relevant charity. Laura Francois took it one (or many) step(s) further and made it her life’s work. “I kickstarted my journey when I stopped believing in the ability of non-profits to solve the global issues we face. Impact can – and should – be created everywhere, through all industries and sectors, especially through business,” she shares.
She found her perfect starting point in the most problematic of all industries: fashion. “It represented the interconnection between human rights issues and planetary ones. It was the best place to illustrate the systemic change I was working on, one that required the removal of separation between social and environmental concerns.”
So strong were Francois’ convictions that in her early twenties, she left Canada for Malaysia with no clear plan, contacts or connections, guided only by a dogged determination to bring herself closer to the fashion industry’s supply chain.
Fortunately, the gamble paid off and birthed a number of endeavours. The most attention-grabbing of these is probably Clothing the Loop, which seeks to spark conversations about the impact of the fashion industry through larger-than-life art installations constructed out of donated or discarded clothing. So far, it has built the ‘largest closet’ in the world in Egypt, and created a three-part installation in an abandoned garment factory in Cambodia, featuring a tornado, a tree, and a waterfall made out of 2,500 pieces of textile waste.
Most recently, Francois has found a new way to spread her message through The Spaceship, an educational programme she launched targeting entrepreneurs who want to build businesses that make a difference. She declares: “For real, tangible change to happen, we need companies to realise their potential for creating exponentially more good than bad in the world.”