Imagine that you could work at a desk on a platform above a skate ramp, and you could just pull your board out and skate a quick loop every time you needed a break. Amazingly this is indeed the case at Rapanui, where co-owners Rob and Mart Drake-Knight take to the ramp whenever they feel the need.
The Rapanui crew are now in an expansive new HQ in Sandown, that has office space and a cafe and shop area at the front of the premises where you can buy your Rapanui threads, drop in for a Rapanui Roast fair trade coffee or tea or stay for lunch.
“It’s a bit of fun really this shop. A lot of people have heard of us but don’t know where we are and we want the café so we’ve got somewhere to eat – we were spending too much in the local cafes and shops!” laughed Rob Drake-Knight.
The food on offer is organic, ethical and has been produced and transported in the most carbon friendly manner. Because for those of you who are not in the know Rapanui is a ground-breaking Eco-fashion company that makes organic, ethical clothing using renewable energy with award-winning traceability. They even have their own brand of coffee Rapanui Roast, an Organic, Fairtrade Mocha blend of espresso beans. If you scan the cup, you can find out exactly where it was grown, how it got here and how it was roasted, delivered and distributed by Island companies and it’s no more expensive than a standard mass-produced coffee in the supermarket.
“We take our name from the Native Polynesian name for Easter Island, because it stands as a powerful reminder that we rely on our environment. If we don’t look after it by living sustainably, it won’t be able to sustain us forever,” say the lads.
And these guys don’t just talk the talk – they know exactly where and how their materials have been grown, the working conditions of the producers and they search out factories that are powered by renewable energy too.
The company has won many awards and were winners in 2010′s Sustainable Business Awards, and have been listed in the Future 100 list of top young ethical entrepreneurs.
“Very few people know where their clothes come from,” added Mart. “It’s not that people don’t care, they just don’t know. The reason we’ve won so many awards is because we’ve addressed that problem.
“We’ve also developed an eco labelling system like you get on food that lets people shop quickly but be aware of what they’re buying. We’re taking that to an MEP and preparing to take it to parliament.”
“At Rapanui it doesn’t cost more to go organic, so it’s open to everyone,” added Rob. “Our products are created using sustainable textiles but at the end of the day the idea is to be a sustainable brand because brands have power over people. Top Shop without the sweat shop – that’s what we’re trying to do.”
“Our aim is to sell as many products as we can and we’re stocked in 36 independent retailers around the world,” explained Rob. “This is our first shop although we are also stocked at the Beach Hut in Yarmouth.
“We’ve also done a lot of bespoke work recently for Vestas, the Ellen Macarthur Foundation and the Met Office. Vestas found out that the organic cotton that we used to make their T Shirts with the Vestas logo was made in a factory that was powered by wind turbines with blades that had been made on the Isle of Wight!”
And the Met Office T Shirts are particularly cool, with their designs that are based on the iconic images used in weather forecasting with a Rapanui injection of humour.
“Rapanui is about making eco-fashion cool,” says their website and they certainly have the coolest working environment. We await their new collection with baited breath…