Together with her sister, Piarvé runs Colèchi, a collective and research agency pushing for sustainable development in the fashion industry. Initially dreamed up as a clothing collection, the project gradually developed into an events series and community in response to the sisters’ frustrations about the secretive and gatekeeping nature of the fashion industry. During the pandemic, they adapted by working on research projects about fashion and community.
Tell us a little about why you set up Colèchi.
Colèchi was officially set up in 2020, but it has been a long series of conversations with myself and my sister. At the time, I was in-between jobs and my sister was studying. We decided to set up a series of events where we invited people from the industry to talk about fashion and bring along other people who were curious. We thought that, if we couldn’t access this information, we were probably not the only ones.
Our events, in 2018, sold out in days! At the time, nobody in the industry was talking about inclusivity or even vertical collaboration [two or more businesses working together] – everything was top-secret.
We built a community of people that wanted to do fashion better. As we were running our events, the desire to start a fashion brand simmered, and what we really wanted to highlight was how big the industry is. Now, we actively work in the industry in other ways, such as research projects that revolve around fashion and community. We enjoy sitting in between the art and business of fashion and the research.
I’m also a mum, so I’m juggling a job, side hustles and motherhood all at once.
What was the process of applying for the Black Business Incubator programme like?
My friend Kashope, a jewellery designer whom I worked with on a project during the pandemic, sent me a link to the programme and said, “girl, you need to apply!” It was very timely as Colèchi had to move out of our ‘meanwhile’ space in Bermondsey, yet we had just started growing a team, so it felt as if we were about to lose the ability to regularly meet up.
The process was just a form, and they got back in a few weeks. I had forgotten that I had applied! I was just very honest with my situation and the skills I could bring, and I am glad that I applied.