As a social ecopreneur, I'm all about discovering companies whose founders share my passion for doing well by doing good. Treana Peake and her revolutionary fashion company, Obakki, definitely qualify. Obakki uses fashion to fundraise for clean water and education in developing communities. The clothes are beautiful, and buying them is a great way to treat yourself while doing something beautiful for others. Treana was kind enough to let me pick her brain about her amazing company and her amazing self.



What motivated you to start Obakki? 

I wanted to use fashion (and other forms of creativity) as a medium for change. I've been doing philanthropy and design for many years, inspired and passionate about both. At a certain point in my life I realized that they didn't have to by mutually exclusive. I could apply creativity to philanthropy and give fashion a purpose at the same time. 


Your business model is amazing. As I understand it, it's part for-profit clothing company, part nonprofit foundation. How'd you come up with that idea? 

Obakki is the creative arm that makes the products we use to fundraise. Obakki absorbs all of the administrative fees, from business cards to travel expenses, so that 100% of all public donations and 100% of net profits generated from Obakki sales can go directly to our humanitarian projects. Whether you buy an Obakki product or make a donation to the Foundation, you know your money is being fully used for projects. 

As a sister-ecopreneur, what can you share about what inspired you, who encouraged you, and any obstacles you encountered or still encounter as a businesswoman?  

We spent a lot of time combing the world for direction and inspiration - looking to see what everyone else is doing. Social media has opened up every corner of our world (with one click of a mouse), removing much of the mystery and wonder that we used to experience. I would encourage people to re-engage with the world - seek out real experiences where you are out exploring, contributing, interacting. All of this leads to 'real' feeling that somehow touches a different part of you. My inspiration comes from standing in the middle of a jungle in Cameroon, from a dusty cattle camp in South Sudan or from a drawing given to me in an overcrowded orphanage. I can't find, or feel this from the Internet.  


I’m wild about your designs. How does your company's mission inspire your aesthetic? 

I am really a conceptual storyteller and I'm always looking for ways to inspire others by using some form of creativity. In fashion, I understand that in order for my collections to be sellable, they need to be wearable. Therefore my stories are told in a subtle way - through colour, patterns, silhouette. Each piece references an important element in some way but instead of being obvious, it becomes a subtle layer to a meaningful story. 

Any tips for women who want to start a company--and/or a nonprofit? Any mistakes you made along the way that others can learn from? Moves you made that you're proudest of?

I can honestly say I get up every morning inspired to do what I am doing. I've let my passion mold my career which I think is such an important piece of my success and happiness. Through fashion I am able to connect with a modern consumer and create real positive change in our world. Last year we drilled 300 water wells for South Sudan. If that doesn't get me out of bed every morning, I'm not sure what will!!

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