Meet Monika Wojtal, founder of 4element
The 4element story began with Monika’s love for jewellery, when she received her grandmother’s antique aquamarine gemstone ring. Since then, Monika began collecting unique designer pieces, and after years of compliments and requests from her friends, she decided to create 4element to share her personal collection with other jewellery lovers, and to live by her motto that “Great fashion belongs to all”.
What does sustainability mean to you?
If I had to summarise what sustainability means to me it would have to be: I care. As a consumer, I care about the product, where and how it was produced and what the environmental impact of my consumption is. As a businesswoman, I care about carefully and mindfully sourcing components and eliminating the waste of production. Most importantly, I care about the workforce and I care about our natural habitat.
All this requires, on both sides, education and for that reason we need to be vocal about sustainability being a choice -- a way of thinking and living as you need to be committed to changing your habits. Unfortunately, sustainability is still a buzzword for many. But let’s be honest: sustainability is a mindset, an attitude that we have towards our consumption and a sense of duty to protect the environment.
Personally, when I think about sustainability, I have that instant feeling of importance that my decisions impact the world and the future of my children. It’s a great feeling that by choosing wisely, you can really make a difference, because you care!
How does your brand embody and promote sustainability?
First of all, I am a great believer in the sharing economy and 4element is a rental platform. In many ways, rental is a perfect response to fast fashion as it is a sustainable model. It promotes the needed shifts in consumer behaviour. We rent our products and we oppose the “take, make, dispose” approach. The 4element inventory is our asset and we inspire our customers to celebrate not only our service but also our products.
Secondly, 4element sources and obtains preloved items around the world. We fix them, recycle, increase the life expectancy of a product and cut off unnecessary, excess production and waste. All forgotten items are being brought back to life once again for you to enjoy.
Finally, each of our unique products has a great history and we are here to tell these stories, to build a bond between the customers and the items. We recently launched Elemental by 4element, our blog where we focus on storytelling by interviewing fascinating people, writing inspirational stories and decoding the history of our vintage items - all to celebrate a timeless, sustainable approach. It’s important for us that customers understand that once produced, an item is a great source of history and shouldn’t be perceived as unnecessary clutter.
How has your brand been affected by Covid? And in your opinion, how has the pandemic affected the fashion industry as a whole?
As the whole world stopped, 4element also paused. I was very lucky that as a founder I was able to step back and reflect on what was missing in my company. Covid allowed me to implement my long-time dreams: build a wonderful team and create Elemental, a very unique blog that allows our customers to see the world through 4element’s eyes. Shall we discuss the negatives? Well, my response is: there are no problems, only opportunities, so let’s stick to this and stay positive!
When it comes to the industry, “Fashion is a dream, and people need to dream,” Hubert de Givenchy once said. I am certain that fashion will soon be up and running again as people need it. But in my opinion, the industry was disconnected from its customers. Everything was done in a hurry: mass produced and mass consumed. There was no true conversation between brands and their clients. Having said that, I work with great stylists and editors, and from what I can see, lessons have been learned so I am really excited about the future!
What is your ultimate dream?
I was still a teenager when I had my beloved daughter. Being a young woman, a young mother, and wanting to pursue my professional dreams was a challenge, no doubt. I was extremely hardworking and persistent, and yet I still had to face many challenges and stigmatising stereotypes. I would love to see a world with equal chances for women without prejudicial preconceptions. I am a huge female supporter and believer in women’s bond. I would love to know that women are always there for one another. I would like our world to be good not only for my daughter but for all girls, no matter what their history is. It’s important for us to know that we are not alone.
What are your three favourite items from the Rêve Ultime website?
I used to be a professional dancer when I was young and spent countless hours training for twelve different types of dances seven days a week. Sport stayed with me and for that reason I always need proper sportswear as I still exercise a lot! Silvertech active leggings are made for me. Great for yoga, perfect after horseback riding and ideal when you finish kite surfing and want to feel comfy!
Shattered dream dress – I don’t even have to explain. As a former dancer, it’s a must-have. Ladies, in your life you need to own a dream dress and dance a lot.
Lastly smell is crucial for me and I am very meticulous when it comes to choosing a home fragrance. I adore woody, leathery, suede scents – notes commonly created from raw ingredients. The more distinctive and masculine, the better and the Clifford candle is, for sure a perfect product for me.