The Apple Girl is an amazing new material innovation coined by Hannah Michaud; a female American Entrepreneur taking the fashion industry by storm! To find a substitute for leather, she has partnered with the engineer university DTU in Copenhagen, Denmark to transform apple waste into the leather of the future. To accomplish this, Hannah believes that a shift away from traditional fossil fuel-based resources to biological-based materials is the sustainable future of the industry!
To accomplish this dream, she has created Apple Girl a biodegradable leather bringing together the fashion and food industry together. To learn further about her material, company and her opinion on sustainable fashion I have had the pleasure to sit down with Hannah in Copenhagen to learn more about this innovative design!
B: Hi Hannah! So, how did Apple Girl get started and what have you been up to now?
H: My initial inspiration started 2 years ago at KEA, in the Material Design Lab during a course called Biomimicry where we looked to nature for design & inspiration. Here I worked both from a scientific and exploratory perspective, working mainly with 100% biodegradable new material for future design.
It was just by coincidence at the time that apple pulp from cider production, way my material of choice. What I found very interesting about this was that I need to blend together the food and fashion industry to try and create sustainable change. During this course, I tested, prototyped and investigated the material to find where in fashion this could truly make an impact! Knowing what I know about leather production and sustainability, I decided that maybe what the industry needs is a new alternative to leather material? With this inspiration, Apple Girl formed and is currently in the works to take the fashion industry by storm.
Fast forward now two years, I am critically analyzing what the components of an apple are, how they work together, and how to enhance them by using them to their fullest potential!
What are the materials and process used to make the leather?
The apple pulp comes from apple leftovers found in cider production. During this process, a lot of food waste is created and left to dispossessed. As a result, I have chosen to harness this opportunity and discover new possibilities for it to be used. As a result, Apple Girl follows a similar production process as paper production, using resource streams from food production.
Why do you believe we need an alternative to leather?
Traditional fossil-fuel-based materials in the near future will become harder to get as resources to produce them become less available. In the case of leather: land is getting used up, fewer people are consuming red meat, and cattle raising for leather is on the decline. Also, research in animal leather is declining as more substitutes come onto the market. Today, it’s possible for leather to be substituted in all categories and I think a collaboration with the food industry is a great direction to go!
Tell me about as well the recent entrepreneurship competitions you have won and do you think these have helped your business grow?
We are totally thrilled to have won the Idealist category of Ivækstprisen! Our plans for the future are big. We’re collaborating in a test-pilot setting with different actors across industries to co-create our development process, and in the lab, we’re working with different knowledge providers, scientists, and actors in the food industry to bring the material to the next level.
Nordic Innovation heard of this and invited me to participate in the Female Nordic Entrepreneurship event for women’s day in NYC. This was an absolute dream! I was able to take back a ton of learnings to the team from different workshops we did, and I pitched to investors, gaining a lot of helpful feedback on our business model.
Lastly, what are your hopes and dreams for the future of Apple Girl?
The vision of the company is to in the future, replace animal leather with a sustainable alternative. Now we’re focusing on entering the interior design industry with wall paneling. It is a very exciting time and our biodegradable material has the ability to blend many different industries together and serve as a material replacement for a variety of products!
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