Francesco Salom is a part of PHOENX, a collective of creatives, scientists, and visionaries creating high-quality travel accessories made from recycled, recyclable, and regenerated materials.
Francesco graduated from Central Saint Martins (CSM), UAL in 2015 with a BA (Hons) Fine Art. He recently spoke to us about his journey after university, how PHONEX came about, and how his Fine Art degree helps him with the design process.
Tell us about how you came to launch PHOENX?
After graduating from CSM I began a career as a creative/artist working in marketing while setting-up art exhibitions; I was constantly on the go travelling across Europe. It was during this time between 2016 and 2018 that I started being bombarded by plastic pollution campaigns. While travelling and observing the way we travel an idea sparked. PHOENX – a collective of creatives, scientists, and visionaries, expressing our passion for design and dedication to our planet through our work. We design travel fashion products with our sustainability commitment at our heart by integrating consciously sourced materials into an everlasting circle. We aim to maximise our impact by empowering social enterprises, endorsing local creatives and raising awareness for sustainable activities through meaningful collaborations.
You studied Fine Art at CSM – what did you learn there that helped you launch your own brand?
CSM is a very inspiring environment where creatives with different inclinations live and breathe within one building. As a student at CSM, I could access all kinds of workshops, even those that didn’t directly relate to Fine Art. CSM provided me with a set of multidisciplinary skills that today allow me to do what I do. It taught me how to develop my own ideas and concepts and turn them into reality. The most important lesson CSM taught me is that you need to teach yourself, as university is just the beginning of any professional learning process.
What has been your biggest difficulty so far, and how did you overcome it?
Building a sustainable fashion brand in a world that until now has completely disregarded sustainability is a day-to-day challenge. The biggest challenge is to inspire business partners. In order to build a sustainable brand, you need to have full support from all suppliers. What we found out is that once they understand the base principles and values they start believing in your mission and vision and will help you take the project one step further. Building a brand is about building a team. A strong team works well when there is mutual respect, and all the team members share the same mission and vision for the brand.
What are your plans for the future with PHOENX?
PHOENX envisions to end the conventional cycle of consumerism. By placing the circular economy concept at the core of our brand, we aim to meet our “zero waste” commitment. We continuously strive for innovations in production techniques and material compositions to improve our quality and to reduce our environmental impact. We believe it is our responsibility to protect our blue planet and to live in harmony with nature.
What advice would you give to other UAL alumni who want to set up their own sustainable enterprise/brand?
Start working on it if you truly believe in your idea. If it comes from your heart the more you work on it the more you will fall in love with it. Eventually, if you work hard enough you will make it a success. I believe it is all about starting somewhere and believing in what you do and the people you are with.