Sustainability and a positive social impact are at the core of Rea Tjoa Algreen’s Danish-style clothing company, 1 People. In fact, the company’s core principles came before the idea of the product! Today – with a half dozen certifications that ensure its high standards -- every material and every action are scrutinized to protect the environment and take good care of the people that produce the clothing it sells.
Rea is energized by the positive impact 1 People is having and recently shared with us her story. We encourage you to read about Rea and shop her woman-owned store and the hundreds of classic and stylish items that 1 People is selling on TheWMarketplace.
What motivated you to start 1 People?
My husband and co-founder, Jonathan Tjoa Algreen, and I had for a long time talked about starting a business that could make a huge positive impact in the world and we had many talks about how we wanted to inspire change in the business world. We could see that businesses could be used as a means to make change so we came up with this idea of making a business that functioned like a kind of hybrid between a traditional business and an NGO. We wanted to use the business as a tool to alleviate poverty.
So our mission and business concept actually came before we had any idea of which product or service we wanted to offer.
What has been the most challenging thing about getting your business up and running?
Sourcing and manufacturing. Sourcing innovative and sustainable just takes a lot of time. We started out with a goal of only being local. This meant sourcing all materials and only collaborating with manufacturers from Indonesia. We could see a huge potential of materials, skills and creativity. But as we worked with developing our products we could see huge challenges with the quality of the innovative sustainable materials and we fell short on finding the right partners that had the necessary certifications or had clear procedures and goals on sustainability and work ethics. We therefore had to expand across the borders and now we mainly do production in India and Portugal. `We have kept a few suppliers and manufacturers in Indonesia with whom we have a very good and strong relationship.
What has been the most exciting or rewarding part of owning your own business?
Experiencing that we actually have a positive impact. To see how we make a difference for our employees, suppliers, manufacturers, customers and the people we have helped through charity.
What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?
Not to waste my energy and my focus on frustrations and regrets. Use the energy on solutions instead.
How long have you been in business and has your business changed since you started it?
This is my first business project, and we started 1 People back in 2012 with selling jewelry. Our mission was the same, we just had another product. In 2018 we began working on a new product line, but I will not rule out that we might have jewelry as a part of it in the future.
Do you have a mentor, formal or informal? What role have they played for you?
My mentor is also my life partner, Jonathan. He has great skills within building businesses and how to psychologically deal with the challenges and obstacles that are unavoidable when you start and run a business. I really feel lucky that I am on this journey together with him.
Do you have any advice for other women who are getting started in business?
It’s important that you believe in yourself and see opportunities instead of obstacles. Listen to advice, do great research, get inspiration from many different sources and don’t lose hope just because people don’t believe in you. If you believe in yourself and are ready to do what it takes, then go for it.
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Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit TheWMarketplace provides to sellers.