REMAKEHUB: a seed planted in St Andrews
Sissi Chao graduated from St Andrews University in 2012 with an MA in Economics. Following a Masters at the London School of Economics (LSE) and work experience in consulting firm Accenture and in the tourism industry with the Mouzenidis Group in Greece, she went on to found REMAKEHUB – a social enterprise that turns fishing nets into renewable materials and products through innovative technology and creative design.
Sissi was included in the 2018 ‘Forbes 30 under 30’ China list and her work has been featured on key news channels, including BBC, CNA and CNC.
She describes how living and studying in St Andrews planted the seed that grew into REMAKEHUB.
I always love getting news about the University of St Andrews: I spent the most wonderful and unforgettable five years here. Although it is the oldest university in Scotland and the third oldest in the United Kingdom, its values are enduring and relevant to every generation, and helped me to find my path in life.
When I first arrived here, I was struck by the warmth and friendliness of this small community. I was shown so much kindness and support that it rubbed off on me and made me realise how important it was to be kind to other people.
My studies taught me about the principles of economics and business and made me aware how much of a force for good an entrepreneur can be.
I was also struck by the natural beauty of St Andrews. The town sits on the coast, hugged by two breathtaking beaches and the North Sea. Many of the beautiful buildings are medieval and there are trees and flowers everywhere. Being surrounded by such natural beauty not only helped to give me a calm and relaxed mindset – it also made me aware how much I loved nature and how much I wanted to protect and be kind to our planet. We have only lived on Earth for 120,000 years – the equivalent of three seconds – compared to the 4.6 billion years that Earth has been around. It’s our responsibility to protect all life on earth, be sustainable and create a future in which both humans and nature can thrive.
Taken altogether, these elements planted the seed that grew into my decision to start up REMAKEHUB – a social enterprise that turns waste into renewable materials. We collect discarded fishing nets from fishing companies and ocean clean-ups around the world and remake them into new resources through innovative technology and sustainable design. By doing so, we can create a virtuous circle by preventing further pollution, saving marine life, helping to recover ecosystems, protecting human wellbeing and health, reducing economic loss and innovating industries into the circular economy.
In our latest pilot project – ReefCycle – we collaborated with WWF Australia to turn fishing nets into sunglasses. So far, we’ve sold 2000 pairs and plan to expand this year (2020) to much larger-scale production, involving stakeholders in the fashion and furniture industries. We have also begun to explore working with brands to create a bigger impact on the Green Supply chain and to educate consumers on sustainability.
I have been included in the Forbes30U30 China list, featured in Tatler magazine and honoured as the GenT Asian Shaper in Tatler in 2019. I was also the R.A.W. prize winner from the Lane Crawford Joyce Group in 2019 and have been appointed a United Nations Development Programme Sustainable Development Goal (UNDP SDG) ambassador in Asia–Pacific and an inspirational speaker for sustainability in Asia.
Without the University of St Andrews, I would never be where I am now. Thank you for this and for giving me five years of beautiful memories! I would love to come back and collaborate on joint ventures that will help to protect our planet and oceans.