© Akjumii

How Akjumii is weaving the circular economy into the business model

Companies in the cultural and creative industries are often pioneers in integrating circular economy concepts into their business model. In our current series on this topic , we showcase selected young companies from the cultural and creative industries that are thinking about the circular economy from the ground up. Anna Karsch and Michaela Wunderl-Strojny have founded Akjumii, a fashion label for slow fashion.

But what does a fashion company have to do with startups? You can learn a lot from Akjumii. The company has integrated circular working methods into its business model. The founders' approach can also be transferred to startups. Startups can also consider the issue of sustainability when developing their business idea. They can define how long a product will remain in the cycle and what happens afterwards. Read the interview to find out how Akjumii solved this.

Munich Startup: Who are you and what does Akjumii do?

Akjumii: We are Michaela and Anna, we founded the slow fashion label Akjumii in 2012. We make convertible coats: the 3in1 coats can be worn as a jacket, vest or coat, and can be redesigned again and again with detachable ‘add ons’. The ‘Akjumii Add Ons’ are, for example, different collars, hem extensions or decorations.

Munich Startup: How do you incorporate the circular economy into your business model?

Akjumii: We have a free repair service and the coats can be returned to us at any time. We then clean and repair them or recycle them into our ‘add ons’.

Our coats can also be rented. Our offcuts, which we keep to a minimum through digital cutting, can in turn be used to create ‘add-ons’.

We also rely heavily on modular systems in the circular economy. These work for everything from housing to furniture and even clothing. And in our opinion, everything that is adapted to current living conditions stays in the cycle for longer.

Why perseverance is important for the circular economy

Munich Startup: What can other startups learn from you?

Akjumii: Thinking about sustainability right from the design and business idea stage. Creating products that are already changeable by design and therefore remain in the cycle for longer. And as a startup, to always think about what happens after a product has been sold. We believe that our responsibility does not end with the sale.

And in general: stay tuned! When we asked all our potential suppliers about the entire supply chain and all the raw materials at the “Munich Fabric Start” a few years ago, we were almost alone. Many of them couldn’t give us an answer. In the meantime, the topic has become important. Many are asking, and suppliers have realized that it is important to know the entire life cycle of a product.

Akjumii: Awareness is our biggest challenge

Munich Startup: What are your current challenges?

Akjumii: Awareness is our biggest challenge. We are working at full capacity with the brand and the product. However, for sales figures to increase, we would probably have to become better known and it is very difficult for us to work on this in addition due to our resources.

Munich Startup: What other circular solutions are there that you find exciting?

Akjumii: There are a lot of exciting material innovations. New distribution channels such as lending or swapping are also great. It is also very exciting for us to use what we already have and create “limited editions” from old silk blouses, for example.

Technical solutions are also very exciting for us. For example, there are hundreds of different possible combinations for our coats. Displaying these digitally and creating digital try-on options would be great and would make purchasing decisions even more informed.

Munich Startup: Where do you see yourselves in five years?

Akjumii: The aim is to increase awareness and sales figures to such an extent that we can research ever better (and more sustainable) solutions in all areas and bring more designs and products onto the market that are, at best, completely recycled and recyclable. In this way, we can make an ever greater contribution to ensuring that the (fashion) world treats people and nature with care.