Passionate and spirited British sisters Sophia, Nina and Georgia Scott are the force behind GROUNDTRUTH Global, a stylish, purpose-led lifestyle brand with values embedded in integrity, transparency and innovation. They have lived and worked all over the world and share a lifetime of travel experiences that sparked their drive to create a company that could affect positive, meaningful change.
The Scott sisters founded GROUNDTRUTH to make problem-solving travel bags and expedition equipment which drive positive change and drive the fashion and manufacturing industry forward. Harnessing cutting-edge technologies, the sisters developed their own sustainable materials including a bespoke, recycled premium fabric using plastic waste collected from landfills, waterways and oceans worldwide, and the tags attached are from CO2 emissions. The entire collection is created from 100% premium recycled materials and each RIKR 24L backpack alone reuses 120 discarded plastic bottles. With ‘People, Planet and Performance’ at the heart of its philosophy, the company only uses Bluesign approved manufacturers to ensure the highest standards for their workers and the environment.
Georgia and Sophia also founded GroundTruth Productions and their work have put them in direct contact with a range of extreme environments – from drought in East Africa to conflict in the Middle East in the last decade.
One word that describes each of you?
Which is your favorite part of your job and which part do you enjoy the least?
Georgia: I really enjoy coming up with ideas and concepts, and then making a plan to execute them and then to see these ideas come to life and flourish. I probably least enjoy the logistics side of the business and reading through lengthy contracts!
Nina: I love being at the factory in the development room and being hands on with the team. I don’t enjoy being in front of a camera much.
Sophia: I am a real people’s person, so meeting new people and seeing how we can collaborate is a key part of what I love about GROUNDTRUTH. I least enjoy being stuck in an office on my laptop for too long – I get itchy feet!
What must happen now to get people to change attitudes and behaviour?
Georgia: It must be NOW that … people/consumers have to be the ones asking the hard questions!
Nina: It must be NOW that people ask to see what’s behind the scene – Who makes your products? What are they made from? How long will they last? There needs to be investigations into brands that are not transparent and for it to be shown to the customers/ the world.
Sophia: It must be NOW that new global laws come into force that all brands and companies as a whole must follow ethical and sustainable policies. That we all start to recognise and accept that we are intrinsically linked to the natural world and have to act with it rather than against it.
What is your personal favorite place to stay that’s trying hard to be accountable and transparent around sustainability with no greenwash allowed?
Georgia: Bambu Indah in Bali where I was lucky enough to stay for 2 nights – they grow all their own produce, focus on waste & recycling with no plastic.
Nina: Our mother’s home in Norfolk – she grows her own vegetables and shops only locally.
Sophia: Alladale Wilderness Reserve … we had the privilege of staying and filming in this beautiful place in Scotland where rewilding and nature underpin every decision.
Who is your greatest influence?
Georgia: I don’t have one greatest influence. I am inspired everyday by courageous stories I hear, see or read from around the world. This week I read about an Afghan teacher, Najibullah Yousefi, who despite huge threats to his life continues to teach his pupils in the Mawoud Academy in Kabul. These kinds of people inspire and influence.
Nina: David Attenborough’s commitment and love for our natural habitats gives me great inspiration. His efforts to protect our planet has had a great influence on me.
Sophia: Rachel Carson who didn’t just call attention to the dangers of indiscriminate use of synthetic pesticides, she also helped launch the modern environmental movement in the early to mid 1900s.
Best advice you have been given?
Georgia: If you don’t dream big you won’t have the possibility of achieving big things.
Nina: Stay true to yourself no matter what.
Sophia: If you set out to do something, do it 100%
Your best advice to the young generations concerned about their future?
Georgia: Learn from every single mistake you make no matter how big or small. If something goes wrong, do not give up.
Nina: Commit yourself to the highest standards, care about yourself, our planet and all that inhabits it.
Sophia: Study hard, be open minded and get an education as well as experience out in the field/on the ground, listen to people.
Georgia: I have a few but I try not to overthink things. In some ways I regret my university degree, as I don’t feel I was on the right track. However if I hadn’t done that degree, my life path perhaps would have gone a different direction – today I feel like I am where I should be so I wouldn’t want to change anything.
Nina: No regrets, I feel that life is too short and I don’t believe all the emotions that regret can bring are helpful.
Sophia: I really regret not doing an MA in International Security and Diplomacy at SOAS when I had the chance back in 2011.
Georgia Scott has worked in a diverse range of roles spanning the breadth of the creative industry – from project management within a global design consultancy to the production, direction and editing of documentary feature films with GroundTruth Productions. Through these experiences, she has developed a versatile hybrid skill set, an entrepreneurial mentality, and a compassionate, communicative ethos; and her ability to clarify ideas and to convey them with conviction has propelled GROUNDTRUTH and its products forward, from initial concept generation through to production.
What project are you most proud of when it comes to sustainability?
Georgia: The amount of time and effort we have put into building our supply chain is something I think we all feel really proud about. One of the most disheartening things I have witnessed on this journey is when we visited several manufactures across APAC and saw the conditions that people worked in. Our goal from the outset was that every GROUNDTRUTH product should be created in a positive environment for the people who make them but also for our natural environment. To achieve this we needed ultimate transparency and open reporting.
How is GroundTruth giving back to local communities? How is the wider community benefiting from GroundTruth?
Georgia: Our manufacturers in Jakarta train and give work opportunities to the local population and encourage women to take lead roles at the factory, most of our development team are women – which we absolutely love. Our partner recycling plant next to the manufacturers in Jakarta is cleaning up over 2000 tonnes of plastic bottles every week from the local environment. So our bags are helping to clean up some of the plastic crisis Indonesia is experiencing. Another project that we feel passionate about and that we are in the process of setting up is an upcycling program where our customers can give us back their unwanted bags and we upcycle them to local communities that might need backpacks for their school journey or a camera bag that is not affordable.
How can consumers make the fashion industry more accountable and transparent around sustainability?
Georgia: We believe that consumers’ buying power can be used to better society by providing a market for products derived from rubbish and manufactured ethically and sustainably. I truly believe that the consumer has the power to demand change. If we stop buying items that cost so little, the demand will be removed. I would encourage customers to start asking more questions, and hard questions – what is this product made from? Who is the face behind this item? If a product is labeled as sustainable, what makes it sustainable?
Nina Scott has worked in product development, artisan textiles and creative production management. With an active interest in design and the development of innovative materials, her research-driven approach focuses on pioneering sustainable new products, textiles and ways of working, and on building close collaborations within a wide range of international industries. She takes an active lead in the generation of ideas and the management of those processes, working to finesse the design and functionality of every product. Nina’s research into emerging technologies and sustainability within the textile industry has been a driving force behind the creation of new bespoke materials for GROUNDTRUTH.
Climate change is a huge issue – what are you doing with this crisis in mind?
Nina: Climate change started when the industrial era started, it’s been around and humans have known about it for a very long time. At GROUNDTRUTH everything we do has our climate in mind. GROUNDTRUTH was founded with the objective to create measurable positive change for people and our planet through carving out a new direction within the fashion industry. We innovate new materials and design technical and contemporary everyday use products that actively help clean up our natural environment. We also make sure to calculate all our emissions and offset this by applying a 3 fold price with our partner Wildlife Works with their Mai Ndomge agro forestry program in the Congo. In 2019, climate change activism sparked the support of millions worldwide, unified in their demand for governments and companies to take urgent action and reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025.
Has Covid-19 lessened the urgency?
Nina: I don’t believe it has, if anything I think covid has made people realise how powerful nature can be. We have incredible people all around the world bringing more and more awareness to the urgent climate crisis. Bill Gates gave a great interview on BBC news not long ago – ‘’Fifty-one billion is how many tonnes of greenhouse gases the world typically adds to the atmosphere each year. Net zero is where we need to get to.’’
In coping with the new normal in 2021, are you feeling optimistic, or anxious?
Nina: We feel optimistic. I think having a positive outlook helps on all levels.
We are all about positive solutions but we also recognise there is a huge task at hand and that we can’t do it alone. That’s why for us collaboration is so important – working with like minded people/companies/organisations is essential.
How is GroundTruth delivering on the Global Goals?
Nina: Through rigorous research and strong partnerships we now have an advanced portfolio of recycled materials, biodegrading packaging and an achievable set of environmental KPIs. Working with only Bluesign approved partners with open reporting we ensure the highest standards for our workers and the planet. From travel to production we offset our entire carbon footprint with Wild Life Works in Eastern Congo. We are also working towards 10 SDGs from Responsible Consumption and Production to Life Below Water.
Sophia Scott has been making films since she was 19 in some of the harshest places on earth, working for organisations such as the BBC, CNN and the United Nations. She has worked worldwide as a director, producer and cinematographer, and co-founded GroundTruth Productions with her sister Georgia in 2012; this work, often within difficult situations and with people from diverse backgrounds, has reinforced her belief that collaboration and dialogue can affect meaningful change. Sophia is now focused on building a vital bridge between the film industry and the business world, connecting people from different sectors with the aim of cultivating a more informed and caring global citizen.
What would you say to fashion industry peers who do not take responsibility for their supply chain … and do little to nothing for the good of communities and the environment?
Sophia: We all must take responsibility for our actions and to help towards the preservation of our planet. It has been proven that you can have an ethical and sustainable supply chain and still be profitable. There is no excuse, make the change to have a greener supply chain, the demand is there and it’s growing. The only future we have is to make conscious decisions today for a healthy tomorrow.
How can we build a more stable and just world after the Covid-19 crisis?
Sophia: This pandemic has made people aware of the fragility of life on earth. If you disrupt one part of nature, the repercussions are felt everywhere. Lockdown has hopefully taught people that exploring your local area can be just as exciting as going abroad. We must take responsibility for our actions and decide to put the planet first. Accountability is key across all sectors, especially in our field of fashion and manufacturing.
What legacy would GROUNDTRUTH like to leave behind from your leadership?
Sophia: That one can run a truly eco friendly business and be profitable. From cleaning up our carbon footprint to cleaning up waste that we produce – we hope to encourage a reduce, reuse, recycle approach to life and business. We would also like to leave behind innovative materials and components and sustainable solutions that create a drive to keep creating, keep asking, challenge yourself and others. We only live once and we only have one planet. Let’s be less greedy and learn to share, not just with fellow humans, but with the whole of the natural world. We hope to get more people, especially girls and women feeling empowered to make a difference and make ideas happen.