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[As seen on The Future Laboratory] FUTURES 100 INNOVATORS in March: Chopstick-fuelled circular economy

[As seen on The Future Laboratory] FUTURES 100 INNOVATORS in March: Chopstick-fuelled circular economy

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This month, we uncover the next 10 innovators to watch as part of our Futures 100 Awards, which highlight those brands, businesses and people innovating for change – and a better future.

Who are the Futures 100 Innovators? : Curated by The Future Laboratory, our Futures 100 Innovators is an annual longlist of 100 disruptors and change-makers : From our selection of 100 Innovators, a peer-reviewed shortlist of 10 individuals to watch, plus an award to the winner, will be announced in October 2023 at our London Trend Briefing event : Each month, we spotlight 10 brands, businesses and people from around the world who are seeking to drive change across 10 key sectors.

Each month, we profile 10 brands, businesses and people that our team of researchers and analysts have identified as driving forward innovation. We look at change-makers agitating across multiple categories including beauty, wellness, luxury, design, retail and travel. In October 2023, our complete Futures 100 Innovators list will be presented to a panel of industry judges who will select their 10 leading innovators. Our March longlist looks at haircare scientists, African luxurians and TikTok journalists shaping the future. You can nominate your own innovator here.


Myavana, US

Beauty: Candace Harris

AI diversifying haircare

Candace Harris is using science to make the future of haircare inclusive.

The Atlanta-based computer scientist created innovative hair analysis tool Myavana, the first AI system to properly recognise multi-textured hair.

Myavana made its debut at CES in 2023 and its process is simple and intuitive: users take a photo of their hair and upload it to the Myavana app, which then analyses their unique hair type and recommends products and styles.

Myavana also provides personalised haircare evaluation with its Hair Strand Analysis Kit, which involves consumers sending a strand of their hair to Myavana for examination in its lab.

Harris hopes her tech-fuelled haircare tools will help Black consumers and those with multi-textured hair to understand its care and management and, in turn, empower them to advocate for better products and treatment from the haircare industry.


Lucy Goff, co-founder of Lyma, UK 

Health & Wellness: Lucy Goff

Well-researched wellness solutions

Science-powered wellness company Lyma was born out of its founder’s sickness. Lucy Goff contracted septicaemia after giving birth and in her long recovery became frustrated with ineffectual supplements.

‘The reality is that the market is entirely unregulated,’ she tells LS:N Global. ‘Manufacturers can make unsubstantiated claims.’

A chance meeting with renowned clinical pharmacologist Dr Paul Clayton, now a member of Lyma’s team, led Goff to found the London-based company. It rigorously fuses the worlds of wellness and technology to deliver scientific beauty, health and wellness solutions.

Lyma’s first product was the Lyma Supplement, a peer-reviewed 10-ingredient beauty supplement. It was launched with an open letter to the wellness industry asking it to address its outdated supplement regulations.

The company recently launched a first-of-its-kind at-home facial laser, a further example of the user-friendly expertise Lyma wants to deliver to consumers. For Goff, Lyma’s focus is clear: ‘putting efficacy first and the customer back in the driver’s seat’.


Felix Böck, founder and CEO of ChopValue, Canada

Design: Felix Böck

Chopstick -fuelled circular economy

When shopping online at Felix Böck’s ChopValue, the number of recycled chopsticks used in making each item is shown next to the price. A cheese board costs £18 ($22, €21) and uses 300 recycled chopsticks, a £229 ($280, €262) rolling cabinet needs 2,439 chopsticks, a large £1,225 ($1,497, €1,400) workstation requires 10,854 chopsticks.

Founded in 2016 in Vancouver, ChopValue began as a sustainable design and furniture business. It focused on harvesting wooden chopsticks from local restaurants to create beautiful, functional home and office products including charcuterie boards, shelving units and desks. Engineer Böck quickly realised that ChopValue’s local concept could have massive global impact and immediately sought to make it franchisable. ‘Maybe within the first week after launching our first product line,’ says Böck, ‘I felt the responsibility that if viable, we have no option but to scale to accelerate our impact.’

ChopValue now has 11 microfactories in six countries, including Singapore, Bali and the US. To close the loop on harvesting utensils the company has signed up hundreds of restaurants worldwide to its recycling programme and its chopstick subscription service.

Böck hopes ChopValue’s socially responsible circular economy success will challenge other industries to find new ways to redefine waste as a resource.


Food & Drink: Grant Lang

Coffee for the common good

Southampton-based Mozzo Coffee’s first outlet was an Indian tuk tuk, which founder Grant Lang bought with his student loan in 2005, and for years Lang travelled to events across the south of England in the tuk tuk establishing Mozzo as a community-focused coffee brand.

Mozzo aims to bring people together through coffee and empower them with its profits. In 2015 it set up its Community2Community Fund to make sure every purchase of its products delivered a positive impact to its coffeegrowing communities. The fund has so far helped build a maternity clinic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is currently working on investment projects with coffee growers in Nicaragua.

Mozzo recently rebranded its packaging with a new tagline emphasising its core values: ‘Coffee. Community. Connection.’ Lang hopes Mozzo can be an example to businesses everywhere, proving that it is possible to succeed commercially while also delivering social good.

Gaurang Jhunjhnuw ala, CEO of New Zealand and Australia Naumi Hotels, Singapore


Travel & Hospitality: Gaurang Jhunjhnuwala

Global hotels harnessing local pride

Gaurang Jhunjhnuwala has been at the helm of Singapore-based Naumi Hotels for over a decade. The Asia-Pacific region hospitality brand aims to make modern luxury more purposeful.

It doesn’t build new but looks for unused buildings with rich histories and revitalises them. Tastemaker Jhunjhnuwala collaborates with local designers and suppliers to ensure these new hospitality spaces celebrate the local community.

Naumi’s newest hotel in Wellington, New Zealand, is the brand’s seventh property and is a refashioned People’s Palace hotel built by the Salvation Army in the late 19th century, packed with art and furniture pieces made by New Zealand creatives.

The future for Jhunjhnuwala and Naumi Hotels includes continuing to commit to sustainability and social impact. Its hotels all have wooden key cards and have eliminated all single-use plastics. Its ESG arm, Naumi Humanity, reaches out to local marginalised communities with employment initiatives and grants for further education.

Naumi Hotels has ambitions to expand beyond the APAC region and wherever the brand goes it wants to be known for making hospitality ‘holistically hospitable’.


Farah Marafie, creative director of AOI, UK

Luxury: Farah Marafie

Slow fashion collectibles

‘Clogs,’ says Kuwaiti-Lebanese designer Farah Marafie when asked what’s next for her luxury fashion label, AOI.

The Paris-based label is disrupting fashion’s addiction to speed by eschewing collections and producing what it calls ‘collectibles’. AOI releases duos of products twice a year, in unexpected pairs. The first drop featured silk suits and rings, the second eyewear and coats.

No matter how popular, once sold out, AOI’s wearable works of art are gone; nothing is reproduced, restocked or re-released. The label’s focus is on quality materials, craftsmanship and creating at a considerate pace.

‘I like sharing with my collectors how long each collectible took to make: where it was made, how many hands made it,’ says Marafie. She sees AOI as part of a slow but steadily shifting movement in luxury, helping consumers become more cognisant of their consumption.


Retail: Ayotunde Samuel Rufai

African luxury for all

‘Farfetch with an African focus’ is how Ayotunde Samuel Rufai describes Jendaya, his UK-based online luxury marketplace. Jendaya is available globally, but it first and foremost caters for Africa’s often overlooked luxury consumers.

Rufai was inspired to launch the e-commerce platform when he grew tired of being sent by his family in Lagos to buy luxury items in London. The platform acts as a gateway for global luxury brands into the African luxury market, hosting renowned luxury labels including Issey Miyake, Comme des Garçons and JW Anderson. But it is also a showcase for African designers, giving creatives such as Marty Moto, Abiola Olusola and Imad Eduso an opportunity to connect seamlessly with luxury consumers around the world.

A year after its launch Jendaya raised £1m ($1.2m, €1.1m) in pre-seed funding from a collection of investors including Ada Ventures. 'Get ready to see us everywhere,’ warns Rufai. He wants Jendaya to become known as the platform celebrating Africa’s luxury producers and purchasers, making sure they are not forgotten or taken for granted.


Youth: Rho Chung and Alice Jackson

Phone service for social support

Strut Safe began as an Edinburgh-based phone service for women, people of the global majority (PGM) and queer people. Individuals were encouraged to call to request a companion to walk them home if they felt unsafe at night.

It was created by academic Rho Chung and Edinburgh University student Alice Jackson in the wake of the highprofile murder of Sarah Everard in London, which Jackson has spoken of as a watershed moment in UK culture. They wanted to offer community, solidarity and physical reassurance when so many were feeling vulnerable.

Strut Safe no longer offers a walking service, but its publicly funded phone line still exists. It now operates nationally and is run by a group of background-checked volunteers. Anyone can call Strut Safe for mental support when walking alone at night.

The service currently runs at the weekends between 7:00pm and 3:00am on Fridays and Saturdays, and 7:00pm– 1:00am on Sundays, where it receives on average 30 to 40 phone calls a night. Chung and Jackson are also working to raise funds to expand both its days and hours. Strut Safe is showing how we can use well-defined community action to keep each other safe. 


Curated Loop, UK 

Fashion: Rachel Mcluckie and Anna Caldana

Regenerative rental fashions

A chain-draped mini-slip dress by Prier De Saône, a baggy buttery yellow power suit by King &Tuckfield, and Siam Circle’s screen-printed patchwork jeans. These are the types of standout pieces that London-based Curated Loop offers on its rental platform.

Launched in 2023 by Rachel Mcluckie and Anna Caldana, the fashion tech company is shaking up the clothes rental market by making it an edgier and more sustainability-focused place.

Curated Loop exclusively sources its clothes from the sample stock, dead stock, unused and risk-of-being-tossedinto- a-landfill stock of emerging and independent designers. It then puts together an edit of unique, often one-of-akind fashion pieces for its predominantly Gen Z and Millennial customers to rent from its website or app.

Collaborating with those who share their values is key to Curated Loop’s continued success. The duo enlisted ecofriendly laundry service Oxwash to clean its clothes and the start-up is talking to London’s Central Saint Martins about establishing a partnership with its fashion students.

‘We’re really fortunate to have an amazing network,’ says Mcluckie. ‘We want to work across the industry to inspire consumers to use fashion to express themselves more sustainably.’


Sophia Smith Galer, UK

Media & Tech: Sophia Smith Galer

Pioneering digital journalism

Sophia Smith Galer was one of the first journalists to understand how social media app TikTok could be used as a news platform.

London-based, she was working at the BBC as its first visual journalist in faith and ethics when she began using the digital platform to find and tell news stories that weren’t being picked up elsewhere.

Her TikTok-fuelled insights on the US presidential campaign and the war in Ukraine gained her over 460,000 followers and over 130m views.

Smith Galer is currently a senior news reporter for Vice World News, where her work tends to focus on human rights, digital ethics and global youth culture.

Her approach to digital journalism is showing media outlets how they can be more responsive and responsible when sourcing and delivering news in social media spaces. 

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