At international fairs, buyers are increasingly asking for organic, recycled and sustainable, and Elsa Parente is the right person to answer those demans. Graduated in Chemistry, the RDD CEO is leading the sustainable project of the Valérius group, which has already resulted in a new factory and promises more novelties
he economic environment is not the best, but life goes well for her. At the end of this year’s 1st semester, she had sold as much (two million euro) as in the whole 2018, the first complete cycle of RDD, the R&D of the Valérius group, which is forecasting a four-million-euro turnover for 2019.
“Double is always good”, says, with a smile from cheek to cheek, the Minhota that created RDD from scratch, and now leads a multidisciplinary team of 17 people, with specialists from fields like microbiology, textile engineering, public health, marketing, fashion design or manufacturing engineering.
“The atmosphere is one of expectation. Apprehension is rampant. There’s this idea that the next years will not be very good”, acknowledges Elsa Parente, who chose a place right beside her house for our lunch, a restaurant she often visits, and where she ordered the dish she usually shares with her husband (half a kilo of rare and sliced short loin) with the usual drink (Classic Bohemia) – highly innovative with the textiles, but not when it comes to food 🙂
Despite the dark clouds above the Portuguese TCI, and the dominant uncertainty, Elsa has all the reasons to be happy because RDD (the spearhead of Project 360 by Valérius), is gleefully surfing the current trends – circular economy, the corollary of Lavoisier’s 18th century axiom applied to 21st century fashion, where nothing is created and nothing is lost – everything is transformed.
“At the trade fairs, the first question that clients ask is if we have sustainable, ecological, recycled or even biologic products…”, relays Elsa, who presented at Milano Unica, as a worldwide premiere, the first items of the 360 line, 12 knits made from a blend of lyocell and recycled cotton thread from pre-consumption waste.
“Our Fall/Winter 20-21 collection is mostly sustainable, with recycled and organic fibres. Besides the 360 line, we have other novelties, such as the line of mercerized organic cotton GOTS certified. Our technology and knowledge enables us to significantly reduce the consumption of water and chemicals in our processes”, states the CEO of RDD.
The 360 line was on display last month, between Munich (Fabric Start) and Paris (Première Vision), but still in soft opening mode, presenting samples meant to tease the clients and allow them to conduct the first tests.
The equipment is being set-up in Mindelo, at Valérius 360 factory, which started operations this Summer, though only in January will they have the conditions to handle sizeable orders.
“We have a goal since the start: to reach 10 million euro in sales by 2024, with knitting made from recycled fibres at 360 as the main product”, reveals Elsa, who has become addicted to the roller-coaster ride that is working for the Portuguese textile and clothing industry-.
“One must love textiles to work in an industry such as this, where new problems arise every single day. At home, during dinner, all we talk about are textiles since in the auto industry there’s never nothing new – it is an uneventful day-to-day”, she concludes.
Born in Viana do Castelo, she graduated in Chemistry from the University of Minho (1998), in Braga, and worked for 18 years in Vila Nova de Cerveira, at Tintex, where she began as a laboratory assistant and left as a commercial director. She lives in Moledo and works in Barcelos, where she runs RDD – Research, Design and Development, the lab-company of the Valérius group, which she created from scratch three years ago. When the time came to go to college, the first choice was Pharmacy. She is the youngest of three daughters out of the matrimony between a housewife and an emigrant in Canada – her father worked many years in Montréal at a sizeable vertical textile factory. Married to Gil, a high-level director at a Portuguese factory of auto components with Japanese capital, with whom she has two children: Constança, eight years old, and Lourenço, nine months old.
Main Course: Half a kilo of cold-cut short loin, with sautéed mushrooms and basmati rice Drinks: Classic Bohemia, a glass and a half of red wine (Valle Longo, Douro, 2017) and two coffees