One of the most amazing things about having started VAER, is all the cool start-ups that we get to meet. The founders behind these start-ups and their stories are so inspiring that we felt it would be selfish to keep them to ourselves.
This is why we from time to time team up with founders from our favorite impact start-ups to share their stories with you - to hopefully give you a good dose of inspiration.
Today we want to introduce you to Franziska Mesche, who is the founder of Tripulse. She is 36 years old and as you can see on the pictures throughout this blogpost, she loves to run outdoors - she even prefers doing her meetings like walk-and-talks (which we should probably start doing as well).
Hey Franziska, firstly, tell us a bit about Tripulse!
Our mission is to create the most health- and planetfriendly activewear that eliminates microplastic pollution and that looks great, feels great and has great performance features. Instead of using tons of toxic chemicals to achieve a certain function (such as odor-resistance or anti-bacterial), we use the natural “superpowers” of our fabrics that naturally have these features. Ethical production is a key part of what we do and we make sure our suppliers are based in Europe and follow strict environmental and social standards.
What are your motivations for starting Tripulse? And what keeps you motivated when times are tough?
I’m Tripulse’ own “biggest customer” as it solves a problem I personally had with activewear and a problem I saw is so prevalent in the fashion industry. I’ve been a huge training, health and nature enthusiast for most of my life, and that also meant I’m basically living in my sports clothes (also known as “activewear”). I never felt very good wearing sports clothes though, they felt very “plasticy” to me, they started to smell very quickly even when I hardly sweat, and I developed skin irritations wearing them.
This made me take a deep look into the sports clothes I was wearing day in and day out and I discovered that all of them were made from plastic, most commonly polyester. I learned that these synthetics often include toxic substances that can cause skin irritations and allergies, and have even endocrine disrupting features. And on top of that, they release nano- and microplastics every time we wash them. These plastic particles have even been found now in human blood and breast milk, the full impact of this is now heavily researched.
In short - there are huge issues related to sports clothing, both from a health and environmental perspective. I searched the internet and shops to find activewear that is non-synthetic and with good performance features and that’s ethically made, but no luck. So I decided to create the solution myself and Tripulse was born.
You know that we are all about circularity here at VAER - and we are curious about what that word means to you and how you work with circularity at Tripulse.
When talking about circularity, we look at the entire life cycle of our products. That starts with the material choice, the production process, the use phase and the end of life. Ultimately the goal is to leave zero waste in all of these stages and to make sure that the product will find a useful purpose once it has been worn out. Waste turns into “food” for something else.
As we want to avoid microplastic pollution, we focus on using hiqh quality and durable materials that have the potential to decompose if ever needed. We also want to ensure a clean production that avoids toxic chemicals that can harm workers, nature, and ultimately the user. The clothes should be durable and of high quality so that they can be used for a long time. And if they ever need to, they can even be repaired. At the end of their lives, the clothes can either be repurposed, recycled or be input for a new use case.
Tripulse products are made from certified wood fiber Tencel which is completely biodegradable and compostable, meaning that it will decompose in the right environment without leaving harmful substances or microplastic behind. Also the production process of the fabric is circular in a way that 99.9% of the water and solvent used to make the fiber is re-used over and over again. The clothes don’t need to be washed that often as they are naturally odor-resistant which also extends their lifespan. We introduced a ZeroWaste Shop where we sell “perfectly imperfect” pieces, e.g. those items that had small blemishes and that the industry generally would throw away or burn.
I also believe, just like with sustainability as a whole, working with circularity is an ever evolving process. We have many more exciting plans for the future so stay tuned:).
What would you say is your sustainability super power?
My curiosity and ability to “go deep” and to look at sustainability from different angles and holistically. Once I start exploring, there is no stopping me. The problems are complex, but I’m driven and motivated to finding innovative solutions to create a better tomorrow. Instead of seeing it as a burden I love to embrace it and use it as a “tool” to create positive impact - and hopefully inspire others to follow suit:).
As a shoe brand and an active wear brand, walking and running seems to be a common theme for us - were there times that took a different path in life than you had planned?
I’d say many times:). As a student of international business I “promised” myself to never work in IT, but guess what my first job was? A sales job at the world’s biggest IT company, IBM:). Then I thought I’d have a career in the tech world, only to realize that I lacked purpose and meaning in my work. Unexpectedly I made a huge switch and decided to actively create change as an entrepreneur in the activewear industry. If you would have told me this just 5 years ago I would have not believed this would happen. But I realized that life is about being open-minded, about following your truth and to use your unique “superpowers” and interests to create meaningful impact - all while having fun doing it.
When have you experienced the greatest “aha” moments?
I had many of them, too hard to remember them all. These moments happen to me almost daily as I love to learn, grow and get challenged. They usually occur during conversations, reading books or listening to thought-provoking podcasts - or sometimes simply when my brain is “at rest” and is able to “make sense” of all the information that it consumed. A peak moment aha-moment being the realization that activewear made from non-synthetics actually can be so much better - in a world where all the experts and other brands are trying to convince you about the opposite.
What advice would you give to your younger self or a young entrepreneur just starting out?
Have a clear “why” and mission of your company, without it it’ll be tough to get through challenging times, and there will be plenty. Also, make sure that you are not the only one loving and needing your idea, a good way to test this is to survey lots of people in your target group. I see many entrepreneurs run with an idea they are personally very passionate about only to realize that they are the only ones. Lastly, have a mentor or a group of peers you can connect with, share your challenges with and support each other. Entrepreneurship is tough, especially if you are a solo founder like myself, so surround yourself with uplifting people and also those who are way further than you in their journey.
Finish this sentence: Walking for me is... freedom
What steps are you taking in your daily life in order to live a more sustainable life?
Working on Tripulse, eating plant-based, prioritizing public transport over car and buying quality over quantity.
Which footprint do you want to leave?
A footprint of a “cleaner” activewear industry contributing to better health for our planet and people, and to inspire others to follow suit and create positive impact.
Lastly, we of course think that VAER and Tripulse are a super good match - but would love to hear your thoughts on, why you think we are such a good match. We share the same mission to create a sustainable fashion and textile industry and are not afraid to dare and innovate. On top of that we are all female founders which makes this extra special to me.
Yaay we think so too! Thank you so much to Franziska for sharing her story - we hope that it was inspiring for you to read! If you want to read more about Tripulse and their amazing active wear - make sure to check out their webpage here: https://tripulse.co/