As a young child growing up in the United States (where we have Presidents, not Monarchs), I can vividly remember learning that Kings and Queens and Princesses were not just in fairy tales, but actually exist. I would have never dreamed that one day, far in the future, I would pack my bags, move to the UK and actually MEET the Queen of England. But that is exactly what happened.
MAMOQ Founder Madeline talking with HRH The Duchess of Cambridge
On March 19th, Her Majesty the Queen and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge visited the Strand Campus of King’s College London for the official reopening of Bush House. And it just so happens, that the MAMOQ HQ is conveniently located in the very same Bush House!
Why do we work there you may ask? Well, my partner Lenny and I met while completing our master’s in International Development here. It’s where we fell in love, learned about the ugly globalised supply chains of the fashion industry, and pledged to change the fashion industry from one that exploits into one that empowers by launching MAMOQ.
The impressive Bush House, once home to the BBC World Service, is now the heart of the KCL Business School, and as such, a few lucky entrepreneurs were selected to greet the Royal Visitors. And I was lucky enough to be one of them.
Not only did I get to meet Her Majesty and the Duchess, Kate Middleton, I actually got to speak with them, and share our mission to bring sustainability and ethics into the fashion industry through MAMOQ. To be honest, my adrenaline was so high I barely remember what was said, but I do remember that the Queen said something along the lines of “very interesting and good work” (yay) and that Kate was keen to learn about our sustainability credentials, and specifically, vegan fashion. She took her time looking at and commenting on all the lovely pieces I brought to display our incredible partner brands including Rhumaa, Nitara, Veryan, and Rakha. Kate was drawn to this ultra-soft shirt dress made from vegan-certified Cellulose fabric. This sparked a conversation about the difference between natural and synthetic fabrics, and the emergence of new, innovative eco-fabrics such as the Cupro fabric that caught her eye. This led nicely into me showcasing the NITARA collection, and surprising the Duchess with the knowledge that the gorgeous yoga pants and sports bra I was holding were actually made from recycled plastic bottles!
The Letter of Thanks from Buckingham Palace
I wanted to give the Queen and Duchess some small, but meaningful gifts to showcase the incredibly impactful brands that we have the honour of working with, but turns out, picking gifts for the Royals can be slightly stressful! It took me an hour just to pick the wrapping paper and even longer to actually wrap the presents. Lenny told me to relax “it’s not like you’re wrapping a present for the Queen!” and then burst into hysterics. Needless to say after several hours (ok days) debating what to give them, a pile of scratched out handwritten cards (I know not very eco-friendly but the perfectionist is hard to ignore when we are talking about the Queen), and a roll of double-sided tape, we had success. I was able to give a small fit to the Queen, The Duchess of Cambridge, and even managed to pass along a little present to the Duchess of Sussex too (find out why Meghan Markle is the perfect advocate for sustainable fashion).
To my absolute delight, a royal stamped envelope arrived in the post a few days later., and I received this Thank You note from none other than Buckingham Palace. An incredible ending to an incredible experience, and one that I will certainly always remember.
Want to know what I gave the Royals? Read on!
Gifts Fit for the Royals:
For Her Majesty The Queen
For Her Majesty the Queen, I selected this beautiful scarf made from 100% pure reclaimed Italian wool, lovingly handmade in a fair trade workshop in Malawi by UK label Mayamiko. I chose it because I liked the traditional design, and know that HRH Prince Charles is a big advocate of wool. I wanted to show the global impact that UK companies are having abroad, and personally think Paola Masperi who runs Mayamiko is an absolute inspiration worth praising. (Although I must admit everyone we work with are extremely passionate and inspirational- one of the perks of working in this space!).
For Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge
Gold Apple Pip Stud Earrings by Little By Little Jewellery
For Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, I selected these lovely gold and blue teardrop earrings made by UK label, Little by Little. I felt that the shape and colour of these earrings suited Kate’s style, and of course the blue in the earrings matches her all-famous sapphire engagement ring. More than the style, I love the story behind these earrings. For every piece of jewellery sold, three days worth of food is provided for an acutely malnourished child through a partnership with Action Against Hunger. Given HRH’s work advocating the physical and mental health of young children, I thought that she would enjoy the positive impact associated with these earrings as much as I do.
For Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Sussex
Ginevra Cuff Bracelet by SeeMe
I couldn’t resist passing something along to The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle due to the incredible awareness she has been raising for sustainable fashion. Given her vocal advocacy of gender equality and women’s rights, I chose to gift her this beautiful Ginevra Bracelet from SeeMe; handcrafted by female survivors of violence in Tunisia. SeeMe provides skills, training and job opportunities for these women through the craft of jewellery making and is verified by the World Fair Trade Organisation. Personally, nothing makes me happier than wearing a story with pride, and I hoped The Duchess would feel the same pride wearing this bracelet filled with memories and tales of female empowerment.