Natalie Designs Eco-friendly Chic Sneakers From Upcycled Materials

What’s your story?
Having worked at big corporations with flashy brand names in the fashion and beauty industry, I became jaded and frustrated to see consumers paying too much for something of very little value aside from the brand’s logo. With the help and support of my loving husband, I took the plunge and in 2019 started my own sneaker brand, Lacess. I created this brand to bring women together and offer shoes that are good for people and the planet. We craft simple, high-quality sneakers from leather trimmings, post-consumer plastics, and other eco-friendly materials. To satisfy my desire to give back to society, a portion of our earnings go toward helping victims of modern slavery. 

What excites you most about your industry?
Everything! I love how everyone is rocking sneakers with every sort of outfit – from jeans to dresses! What excites me the most is how brands, big and small, are becoming more transparent about their practices, because customers have become more discerning, demanding, and most of all CONSCIOUS!

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Hong Kong but left for Australia when I was 11, and later, decided to move back to Hong Kong to “rediscover” my roots, though I was also attracted to its eclectic vibe. I have also spent a fair amount of time in Japan and absolutely fell in love with it. There hasn’t been a day I don’t feel proud to be of Asian descent.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Hong Kong. It’s a place where you can experiment, get instant feedback, and start over again if you need to. It’s also a city filled with talent from all over the world, and with its close proximity to China, this bustling city offers infinite opportunities.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t ever fight anything alone. If you are planning to start a business, throw yourself out there and talk to people – not just your friends, but strangers who will give you unbiased opinions.

Who inspires you?
Nick Vujicic. His unwavering faith and love for life has no boundaries.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I learned 1 in 200 people in the world today are living in some form of slavery! It’s not a movie, not a history textbook, but a fact within our society today.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have started my business earlier. Or, perhaps started a family earlier. It is easy to underestimate the time and effort it takes to succeed in these endeavors!

How do you unwind?
I try to sweat out any stress. Running takes my mind off the never ending to-do lists, and the satisfaction I feel after a workout is simply the best.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Lying around the nearest beach with a Tequila Sunrise just isn’t my thing. I love to explore hidden cultures and hear stories from the locals. Nepal is one of the places I love because of its breathtaking scenery and deep-rooted culture.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Be the Hero: Be the Change,” by Matthew S. Friedman. This is a very new book on how we can all be heroes in our own individual way.

There’s nothing more rewarding than to work on issues you are passionate about. For me, that is fighting against modern slavery, and climate change. I feel fortunate to participate in solving these problems and to be a hero in my own unique way.

Shameless plug for your business:
Lacess crafts quality, timeless sneakers from upcycled materials – leather trimmings and plastic bottles together with other sustainable materials. Our vision is to offer consumers a pair of #GuiltFreeKicks that they will  be proud to wear, knowing their shoes are friendly to the planet, and to its people.

We currently cater only to women’s sizes, but we have exciting projects in the pipeline to bring #GuiltFreeKicks to men! Watch this space! mylacess.com

How can people connect with you?
Our website is a good place to start (mylacess.com) to learn more about our story and products. However, we can also be contacted via email ([email protected]) and social media.

Instagram: @my_lacess  
Facebook: @mylacess
Please follow us and connect with us to show your support!

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 500 interviews

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Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.

Connect with Callum on Twitter and LinkedIn
Download free copies of his books at www.callumlaing.com