How women are leading the way when it comes to sustainability in the UK

Amazing Women Award winners Vanessa Jacobs, Rebecca Wrigley, Shola Asante, and Agnes Cushnie contribute to a sustainable future

Amazing Women Awards 2022 winners
(Image credit: woman&home/Future)

The woman&home Amazing Women Awards, in partnership with No7, have recognised winners Vanessa Jacobs, Rebecca Wrigley, Shola Asante, and Agnes Cushnie for their incredible, forward-thinking work that contributes to a more sustainable future. 

It takes a lot to be recognized as a winner of one of these awards, which celebrate women over 50 who are making a difference to the people around them. As people all over the world fight the tide of climate change and its impact on our environment, learning ways to be kinder to our planet is a matter of life and death.

Luckily for us, innovators like these amazing women are doing their level best to pave the way, with more planet-friendly concepts built to not only last—but also help give back to the planet.

Rebecca Wrigley, 52, CEO and Co-founder of Rewilding Britain

Rebecca Wrigley, 52, CEO and Co-founder of Rewilding Britain

(Image credit: woman&home/Future)

Observing Rebecca's extensive and ongoing career, it's clear to see why she's been chosen as the Amazing Women Awards' Environmentalist of the Year 2022.

This amazing woman has worked in the voluntary and public sectors for 23 years, with roles at the World Wildlife Fund and Oxfam—which proved incredible experiences. "My career has brought me access to incredible encounters with the natural world," she says, "Watching turtles hatch on beach in Mexico was a particular highlight."

Rebecca co-founded Rewilding Britain (opens in new tab) in 2014, an organization aiming to tackle the climate emergency and extinction crisis and reconnect people with the natural world, helping communities to thrive. 

"With Rewilding Britain, a high point has been the success of our network established for people who need support in their rewilding projects," says Rebecca. "It’s given solidarity to pioneers making things happen. They’re starting to feel a groundswell and are gaining confidence from being part of a movement."

Rebecca has developed and implemented conservation and community development programs in the UK and across the globe. Her life's mission is to see rewilding become part of the way we view and manage our land and seas. "Britain is a pale shadow of what it could be," she explains. "I’d love to see the awe-inspiring abundance of our native species return and to feel I’d played a part."

Shola Asante, 47 and Agnes Cushnie, 50, co- founders of Sante + Wade

Shola Asante, 47 and Agnes Cushnie, 50, co- founders of Sante + Wade

(Image credit: woman&home/Future)

Joint winners of Entrepreneur of the Year 2022, Shola and Agnes aren't only amazing women—but amazing friends too. "Shola and I have known each other for 25 years," says Agnes of their award, "so it’s also a special highlight for our friendship."

These best pals founded their body-positive footwear company Sante + Wade (opens in new tab) in 2019, creating fashionable, premium footwear that focuses on wider and longer sizes, while providing exceptional levels of comfort. "We started this journey because we wanted to address the lack of representation for women who are in love with fashion but are constrained by choice because of their size," adds Agnes. "They no longer want to be treated as an afterthought."

Dedication to their customers and being as sustainable as possible has been their aim since the get-go, and they recently launched their Zero Waste Sandal. This comes after years of dedication to responsible manufacturing practices.

Sante + Wade is committed to sustainability by using leather suppliers who meet strict environmental guidelines, recycled cork in footbeds, and lining without chrome usage.

Their growing celebrity fanbase includes actresses like Kate Winslet and Sarah Niles and presenter Alison Hammond—but these celebrity fans weren't the biggest highlight for Shola. 

For this amazing woman, her highlight was the first time they received unsolicited feedback from a customer. "It was wonderful to know that we were reaching our audience," she explains, "that they understood what we were trying to achieve."

Vanessa Jacobs, 45, founder and CEO of The Restory

Vanessa Jacobs, 45, founder and CEO of The Restory

(Image credit: woman&home/Future)

Winner of the Business Innovator award 2022, Vanessa's realized that there was a need for a sustainable model of circular fashion and aftercare. Formerly a Financial Analyst and then Management Consultant, Vanessa founded The Restory (opens in new tab) in 2017. Since then, it's completed over 50k services for clients in the UK and internationally, and has raised £3M to date. 

Explaining her impetus for creating the company she says, "I knew from my own experience that circular fashion and aftercare, in particular, needed to sit with fashion not on a beaten-down high street but at the touch of a button."

The Restory is the world's first aftercare platform for fashion which has technology and sustainability at its core. They are official global partners for Harrods, Selfridges, and Harvey Nichols and have major brand partnerships with Manolo Blahnik and Nicholas Kirkwood. "We elevated the service and experience so you know where to go to clean, repair, restore and extend the life of your wardrobe," she adds.

Its sustainable model means that customers can revive, repair, alter and restore, shoes, bags, and clothing. It's evident that consumers are hungry for circular fashion and aftercare because the company has seen 200% growth year on year since its inception. 

The woman&home Amazing Women Awards are brought to you in partnership with No7.

Aoife Hanna
Aoife Hanna

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.

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