AMA: Hugo Empson, founder of Generous APE

Fast fashion comes at a cost (ethically and environmentally). But, thankfully, purpose-led startups are emerging, determined to change the way we shop for the better.

Generous APE, founded by Hugo Empson, is a one-stop online shop for sustainable beauty, fashion and homeware brands.

Hugo Empson

Hi Hugo! Tell us a bit about your company.

Generous APE is a style led sustainable marketplace for brands that give back to the planet. We prove that you don't have to sacrifice stylistically to shop sustainably, every purchase a customer makes has a purpose.

APE stands for Animals, People and the Environment and every brand we partner with focuses on principles that give back to the planet, and is driven to improve its impact on the planet.

Fantastic. What's the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur along the way?

The biggest mistake I have made as an entrepreneur was on a past venture which I set up with a close friend, and my mistake was thinking friendship was a strong enough bond to validate trust and transparency.

Did you ever experience a business disappointment that led to something better?

Business and life are full of roadblocks that evolve into new channels, which you grow and most importantly learn from. In building a business, you so often never stop to celebrate or appreciate how far you have come.

But in many ways, it's how an entrepreneur uses disappointment as fuel to drive them to the next success is that defines the winners from the losers.

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Well said. What does company culture mean to you?

It is so important, and when you create the culture and environment in the correct way, engagement, productivity and performance can all flourish.

How do you keep your team aligned?

Sustainable and ethical retail relies on radical transparency. We adopt a similar DNA at Generous APE, with a culture built on honesty and transparency which creates a culture where everyone has a voice.

Since things have returned to some normality post lockdown. Team meetups have really helped to bring us closer as a team.

Can you share any practical tips or processes to help people work remotely?

Communication is essential, one of the biggest issues with not physically working together is capturing the energy and culture which defines your business.

Setting in place time to create focus groups on workstreams that are free-flowing and allow the evolution of ideas and concepts. It's so easy to slip into behaviours and habits of simply structuring meetings to review the everyday functions of your business.

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Give us an interesting fact about yourself that the business community doesn’t know.

I made my pocket money when I was younger by buying second cars off our family friends. My brother and I would spend our weekends making them spotless and selling them on.

A young entrepreneur in the making! Finally, who would you pick to play you in a film of your life?

Christian Bale, as he has the ability to yoyo from putting on huge amounts of weight from his films (similar to my post-lockdown figure).

Thanks so much for your time Hugo and for sharing the mission behind Generous APE.