The new ESA BIC Bavaria startup manaomea is assuming responsibility for keeping this natural system healthy and rich in species by turning waste textiles into sustainable promotional items.
ESA BIC Bavaria Manager Cornelia Gebath (CG) interviews Christine Arlt (CA), Managing Partner at manaomea.
CG: Please give us a sneak peek of your product and the team behind it.
CA: Manaomea has developed a material that turns textile waste into treasure. It is as changeable as a chameleon, sometimes warm and woody, sometimes excitingly cold like precious granite, and always offers a bold and clean alternative to problem materials like plastic.
Our first products, pencils, were created from this. They are made from the finest natural graphite wrapped in recycled thread, natural fibres, textile scraps and a self-produced organic polymer. Each is natural and one of a kind, an alchemic transmutation from waste to treasure, ready to write wondrous tales.
The pencils are the ambassadors for our material and our patented manufacturing to preserve and enrich the earth and to assume social responsibility for the people living on it.
The trick to the business idea: Private and business customers can send in their favourite worn-out clothes and have the pencils individually branded. Companies can have textile remnants such as disused work clothes, cutting waste, selvedges or yarn remnants etc. processed into pencils, which thus become noble ambassadors of the ecological responsibility of their own brand.
CG: What has been your company’s biggest challenge so far?
CA: To be honest, we have big plans for manaomea with its material and mission to change the world for the better. So we had a lot to learn about trust in life and timing – manaomea’s very own timing and its intuitive way forward. When is it about time to stop a development and change path, to hire companions, money…, when to launch a rocket and to just let go and be patient? And that’s still our challenge.
A specific example: We launched our crowdfunding campaign at the end of 2016, when we thought we were ready to produce and sell our first pencil collection. We learned that that was not the case. We had to change several modules within our production technology, almost across the board, and it took us more than a year to finally succeed and deliver to all our great and patient customers.
CG: Can you explain the three main ingredients of your recipe for success?
CA: Soul. Supporter, Team. I think manaomea has a deep soul that continually attracts and engages wonderful people, great supporters for various important topics, together with the man-woman core team and our engagement and trust that this is the right way.
CG: What do you expect from ESA BIC Bavaria and how do you think the initiative and its network will help you to kick-start your business case?
CA: With our incubation, we connect manaomea with its roots in aerospace engineering. That gives us a strong foundation and the possibility of building the first of our own production machines and to promote our brand. The connection to that great network will hopefully provide us with relevant partners to support us. Furthermore, we wish to make a powerful pencil collection out of a worn spacesuit. This is intended to be godfather for the story about how fragile our earth and how thin and delicate our atmosphere is, especially when seen from space. This collection should help to open people’s eyes and minds and encourage people to keep this natural system healthy, species-rich and alive.
CG: What do you think to benefit from the DLR support?
CA: As our business roots are located at DLR, we have a great network in terms of our material and production technology. But it would also be a great chance to analyse environmental and climatic measurement data in terms of pollution, landfill, etc., as we intend to work with this data to simulate LCAs and find the best places to establish production units and work towards development cooperation.
CG: Let’s reach for the stars – what is going to happen in manaomea’s future?
CA: We are starting with small, yet powerful, ambassador products, our pencils, which fundamentally connect people and instil a sense of responsibility toward our planet. Which lead to conversations, which inspire joy and education and from which new houses can be built. Yes, in our dream and vision, we form great partnerships around the world to build houses from our material for those humans who deserve living space and whom we exploited for our textiles over many years.
Did you enjoy this interview with the outstanding startup? Anyone interested can get into contact with manaomea via e-mail. Stay tuned for upcoming interviews with ESA BIC Bavaria startups on our AZO Blog.