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Meet Susannah Jaffer

Susannah Jaffer interview for Sceona

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m from the UK, come from a mixed English/Indian family and have been living in Singapore since 2012.


I used to work in magazines as a fashion and beauty editor and creative director, until launching ZERRIN in 2017. 

How did you come up with the Zerrin idea?

Through various personal and professional experiences, I woke up to the massive global impact of the retail industry and knew I needed to redefine the role I played in the system. 


At the time my job was to create awareness and inform the public about brands worth knowing and supporting, and I didn’t feel that I could fulfil that in the traditional media sense and went through a time of feeling at odds with my career. 


While learning to undo my toxic relationship with my wardrobe, I became inspired by the spectrum of under-the-radar sustainable fashion and self-care alternatives I’d discovered on the journey. 


That sparked the idea of creating a platform that would connect a growing community of ethical emerging companies with busy, modern women just like me — and so ZERRIN (zerrin.com).

Zerrin idea 1
Zerrin idea 2
Zerrin idea 3

What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

I don’t think I was motivated by the concept of becoming an entrepreneur, it was more the idea of creating awareness of the sustainable fashion and beauty industry niche. 


I think being an entrepreneur just came part and parcel of that.

What does sustainability in fashion mean today?

To me, sustainability in fashion is a movement that aims to change the current system, and move towards an industry that puts people and the planet first. 


It believes in overhauling outdated, harmful and exploitive processes created historically by Western capitalism in the global North. 


It embodies the opposite of everything fast-fashion has come to be known as - cheap prices and materials, low quality, trend-led designs pushed out by the thousands. 


I think the term ‘sustainability’ has been stretched and moulded to suit the agendas of many different people. This often means it can get taken out of context, applied incorrectly or misused, which is a pet peeve.  

Zerrin interview

How do you see the future of fashion? 

What are the latest innovations that excite you?

The current Covid-19 pandemic has really placed the fashion industry and it’s supply chain under a big spotlight and has revealed a lot of the cracks in the system. Retail as we know it has entirely shifted, big, bloated brand names are in trouble and many department stores are filing for bankruptcy. 


In the midst of it all, what I’ve been seeing increasingly is that it’s the small businesses that have been the best equipped to weather the storm. 


Those with more sustainable supply chains and slower production methods mean they’ve made sensible business decisions that can sustain their company through a period like this. 


I’m intrigued by regenerative agriculture, the host of sustainable fabric innovations out there and blockchain technology to improve supply chain transparency.  

Entrepreneurship is about success and failures, would you mind sharing a challenge you faced or a failure and what you learned from it?

Zerrin interview

I think growing this business for 2 years as one person has been hard and sometimes isolating. 


I think my biggest challenge has been setting up unrealistic expectations for myself and beating myself up when I don’t achieve them.

What do you do to remain mentally sane during this strange confinement period?

I’ve had good days and bad days. 


I think on the good days I remember to take care of myself too. This could mean starting my day with exercise, playing music and spending time with my dog and husband - before ‘chaining’ myself to the desk. 


Also, I’ve found that even though I’ve created a ‘workspace’, moving around my apartment helps productivity. 


Even if that means one minute I’m working from my kitchen table and the next lying on my bed with my laptop.

Zerrin interview

Anything you loved lately? 

A book, a movie, a brand, a story?   

I’ve been watching and rewatching all of Studio Ghibli's movies on Netflix which are beautiful. 


I’m also currently reading Clothing Poverty: The Hidden World of Fast-Fashion and Second-hand Clothes by Andrew Brooks. It’s a really good explainer on how today’s fashion system has evolved and developed historically, perpetuates poverty in developing countries and plays a major part in dividing different regions of the world into rich and poor. 

Stay in touch with Susannah!

Or visit her website: https://zerrin.com/

Follow us @sceona_

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