“Curious, determined and courageous.”
That’s how Zoé Pecetto-Aït Hamouda, founder of Tropicodélica, describes herself.
An architect by profession, Zoé had been thinking about fashion for a long time but it was only four years ago that she realized what aspect of that world specifically interested her: sustainable, ethical and eco-friendly fashion.
While studying for her degree in Architecture and urbanism in France, she had the opportunity to move to Porto Alegre, Brazil, where she first did an exchange semester and then started an internship at Insecta Shoes, a brand of fully recycled and vegan shoes. Here is where she first became aware of fashion’s negative consequences on the environmental and local communities. This industry is one of the most polluting in the world and not always respects the women and men working in it. The collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013 revealed to the world the conditions faced by workers in the textile industry.
It’s against all these negative aspects of fashion that Zoé decided to launch Tropicodélica, a sustainable and eco-friendly fashion brand, whose clothes are made with respect and love in Brazil.
Before setting up Tropicodélica, Zoé had been working as an architect for a few years, while also managing a cultural centre in Brazil. The decision to set up her own business came following her desire to make sense of her work. She says:
“I wanted a job that allowed me to live my dream and inspire others: to live in France, and in Brazil, to take advantage of my two worlds, a marriage of the cultures. I need to be in a living environment, where the kids are out and the laughter everywhere.”
As for most entrepreneurs, the beginning was not easy for Zoé. She believes the biggest difficulty of being an entrepreneur is being alone: when she launched her startup she couldn’t afford to share an office with other people or hire professionals with skills she didn’t have, such as marketing and digital.
However, Zoé came across Positive Planet, one of youth Business International members in France, when she was looking for incubators in Marseille and she was able to receive the support she needed to start her new venture. In partnership with the City Foundation, Positive Planet aims to support and create microenterprises in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, in at-risk urban areas. Zoé says that Positive Planet offered her a “serene accompaniment, without pressure or competition.”
Zoé has ambitious plans for the future of Tropicodélica. She’d like to settle in Brazil and develop a ‘French style’ collection made in France; create her own cotton production and even manufacture bamboo viscose.
She has a simple yet powerful piece of advice for young entrepreneurs:
“Dare to surprise yourself! »
Positive Planet is part of the Youth Business Europe programme, a regional initiative supported by the Citi Foundation to help young entrepreneurs to start or grow a business.