PIONEERING SUSTAINABLE FASHION – Daniella Zarkon, Alumna of TheHive Tel Aviv #7

by Juliette Rech, intern at TheHive

The Most inappropriate person for the job

When the idea of creating a startup came to Daniella Zarkon, young olah from the United States, she was probably the most unsuitable person for the job: 26 years old, just graduated, woman. No matter the statistics, being a newcomer allays all mental barriers erected by stereotypes about entrepreneurship. « You have the confidence by knowing that you have already made the biggest step by leaving your home and coming here. ». In for a penny, in for a pound: with her degree in environmental studies in hand, Daniella pitched her project to TheHive 7th screening committee. A project which the most practical expression was then a sheet of paper. The board, drawn from Israeli business lords and TheHive staff, didn’t disguise its scepticism. God knows how she managed to convince them that if her « company » was barely at the idea stage, it would further increase the added value of the incubator. Five months later, she came out from TheHive with a solid business plan and a fully working online marketplace enabling ethical and sustainable fashion brands to sell their products to like-minded customers.

Entrepreneurship is more than starting a business  

The company is called « Marrakesh » after the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement, birthplace of the World Trade Organization, whose purpose is to achieve greater equity and transparency in global trade. « When I made Alyiah from the United States, I already knew that I want to create a sustainable company, but I wasn’t sure of which sector. I realized that fashion industry is the most polluant industry after oil, about 20 % of world water pollution. I realized that if I focus on fashion industry I could have a really big impact. ». From day one, Marrakesh stems from the conviction that the only real solution to global warming is economic. And even more. By listening to Daniella, Entrepreneurship seems to be the breeding ground for many achievements. While Marrakesh targets the American market, Daniella chose to incorporate it in Israel after considering how the positive spin-offs of her business would be distributed in the two societies : « You have to work really really hard to start a company. At the end of the day you are still active. I don’t remember how much money goes to the social welfare system but I know the money is going to benefit everyone in the (Israeli) society whereas in the States, my money will go to the top 1% of the population. I want to give back to the homeland as well. » Business is finally almost a pretext, something which ties many forms of idealism, fed by the common genes between immigration and the entrepreneurial streak: « Entrepreneur doesn’t always mean starting a new business. It means to me an adventurer, somebody who leaves the comfort of his own home. I think that Israel is unique because it is made up of so many olim. The whole country was basically founded by entrepreneurs. Either that means starting up a kibbutz in the south or starting a high-tech company in the center. ».

Tackling the successful entrepreneur « type »

26 years old, woman and just graduated: very discouraging data, regarding the average profile of successful entrepreneurs. Though she was at first sight the most inappropriate person for starting and running a company, Daniella won the Final Pitch of TheHive 7th. A committed business, as a tool for achieving sustainable, social and integration goals at the same time, was the strongest foundation she could provide for her company. By doing so, this young newcomer lies in the continuity of the pioneering ideal.