Inspirational Women- Kresse Wesling

I first heard about Kresse after reading an article in The Observer newspaper. I was intrigued by this young designer duo and contacted Kresse who works not too far away from me, in the beautiful county of Dorset.

Jane: Kresse, I’d better declare my bias!  I first heard about you through the article in the Observer newspaper showcasing your recycled hosepipe bags (which are beautiful); I was particularly drawn to you because you give half of your profits to the fire brigades charity and I’m married to a fire-fighter! Thank you!
Could you give the readers a description of what  Elvis & Kresse actually does?

Kresse: Elvis & Kresse reclaim industrial wastes and build value into them – our aim is to create sustainable solutions to niche waste problems that aren’t being tackled by the existing system. We are a social enterprise – the core value of the business is environmental protection and half of our profits are donated to charities associated with our wastes.

How did the connection with Isabella McPherson, your business partner, come about?
Isabella learned of our work through the Sunday Times – she and partner, Sigrid Wilkinson, got in touch about a collaboration with artists. Elvis & Kresse product designer and co-founder, James Henrit developed 7 pieces which incorporate the work of 4 artists, Olivier Millagou, Paul Morrison, Simon Periton and Lothar Gotz.

You obviously have a passion for sustainability and recycling. When did you first realise you could turn it into a business as well as a passion?
I have been working on environmental business concepts for 9 years – which is 1 less year than I have been working – I think I have always been passion lead. The best way for me to have a positive impact on the environment is through business.

Giving something back is clearly important to you. What prompted the fire brigade connection?

This was a spur of the moment decision that was made following one of our first meetings with the London Fire Brigade – our first waste partner. The Fire Service is obviously a stakeholder in our business, creating a positive and engaging atmosphere for all of our stakeholders was the easiest decision we ever made.

When you left school did you think you would be running your own business? Did you have a career plan?
I had so many career plans while I was at school that I was probably overburdened with ideas – law, politics, international development, opening a bar…. After university I made a decision to chase down every opportunity that I was interested in and not any particular path – the beauty of this is that I am now doing exactly what I should be, the drawback was the years of uncertainty that came from taking too many risks and making too many mistakes. It hasn’t been boring!

Who has inspired you most personally and professionally?

I have loads of role models, but my biggest inspiration is my Grandmother, Eunice Kenney. She was a legend in every possible way.  She raised two girls on her own while teaching and putting herself through University. She was a phenomenal educator, gardener, cook, friend, matriarch and she was funny! If my life is half as productive as hers I would be amazed.

What do you think is the biggest hurdle women in business face?
I think the biggest hurdles are fairly well known. Having benefited hugely from a family, a community and an education system that placed no barriers on women and then running my own business have made it very easy to avoid these hurdles.

What was your very first job? How much did you earn?
My very first job was, I think, being in a mini-series called Little Vampires – I did a few acting things when I was 10ish? I would have to ask my Mom to fill in these details!

You’ve achieved a lot at a relatively young age. What, if anything, would you do differently?
I would have to change nothing – trying to unpick any of the mistakes might unravel the whole thing!

What has been the best thing/most surprising about running your own business?
That we actually can have an impact – that we set out to save the fire hose and we are well on the way to doing it…

How do you relax?
I don’t – not yet anyway! I run a lot, but this is how I sort things out, and it isn’t a very relaxing hobby…

Do you have a favourite book or quote to share with the readers?
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring – this should be mandatory reading material.

What advice would you give any woman reading this who is thinking of running her own business?
Talk to people about it – research it – test the water a bit – work out your finances… planning and patience are key.

Kresse, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to us. I wish you every success in your business!

You can see some of the beautiful products Kresse makes by clicking here

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Posted on May 20th, 2010 by

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