MBE Kresse Wesling - Elvis & Kresse
What gave you the idea behind the fire hoses?
It was the hose itself. When I first moved to London in 2004 I started exploring landfill sites and refuse transfer stations. I realise this isn't normal tourist behaviour but to each her own! In 2004, 100 million tonnes of material went to landfill and I genuinely wanted to help. In 2005 I had a chance meeting with the London Fire Brigade, and discovered that their 10 tonnes of decommissioned fire hose would otherwise go to landfill. It was love at first site. I took two hoses home that day and never looked back.
To many it may seem a strange material to use?
Yes, absolutely, but not once you learn more about it. It is made of a very durable, nitrile rubber, with water and heat resistance built right in. 95% of British hoses are the rich lustrous red, a gorgeous colour that we have made synonymous with sustainable luxury. The hose also has a history, an honestly life-saving provenance; we don't have to 'come up with' a marketing strategy, we simply celebrate the truth of the material, the truth of what we do. I think our type of resource use could become the norm. In the future I think it will be more strange to use virgin, story free, resource intensive raw materials.
What has been the most challenging aspect of working with this material?Decommissioned hose is not a textile. It took us a lot of R&D and several years to refine the 6 stage process we now use to clean and transform the hose, making it ready for manufacture. Without our complete commitment to rescuing the fire hose we simply never would have overcome the series of challenges we faced developing our process.
Above all your designs which one stands out the most for you?
We are most proud of how we have designed the business itself. Elvis & Kresse was established to solve London Fire Brigade's hose problem, and it does. We have been solving that problem for over a decade. Beyond the hose we are also a B Corp, we are a Living Wage employer, we have a totally vertically integrated, ethical supply chain. We give 50% of our profits to charity. We run our business the way we want the world to be, not the way the world is now. Our products are helping to redefine luxury, but our way of running a business is a blueprint for any
aspiring entrepreneur or business that cares about people and cares about the environment.
Designing, working, supporting your chosen charity the 'Fire Fighters Charity' & others, do you ever find time or a place where you feel you can unwind?
Elvis & I run the business together - and no, you can't turn it off, ever . We don't have a work life balance. We have a life, it involves a lot of work, but the work is often enjoyable and always rewarding. Every day we get to solve problems and we get to do this together. It is a joy to work with Elvis, a ridiculous gift to spend all my time with the most awesome human I know. I don't think you need to unwind from that.
Describe Elvis & Kresse in 3 words
Reclamation, Transformation, Donation
What's next for Elvis & Kresse?
We have an entirely new collection launching this summer with a material we have been working on for a while in a small way that is about to become so much bigger. We are growing our team too. Our main goals are to scale, to move faster, and to solve more problems.