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Giovanna R Sessi-Knott

Giovanna R Sessi-Knott: Mapping an Extraordinary Entrepreneur Odyssey

After an intense career as a finance executive in international banking, one may wonder what motivated Giovanna R Sessi-Knott to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. The inspiration to create a better everyday bag was born out of frustration when, once she became a mother, getting ready in the morning turned into a complete challenge.

Giovanna’s new lifestyle as a working mother required her to get dressed in one outfit and a set of accessories that would need to be suitable from the boardroom to the playground and then date night.

She needed her wardrobe and accessories to be as versatile as she was occupied with executing multiple tasks from day to night. Every morning, crossing London Bridge on the way to work, she noticed that she was not the only one with that challenge.

Most women would cross the bridge wearing sneakers, carrying an extra bag with stilettoes, a designer handbag and a different-looking bag with a laptop. This uniform did not exactly scream style.

This instigated Giovanna to think about how to improve this unfortunate look and impractical way of dealing with the multi-tasking challenge. After months of reflection and nights on the drawing board, she came up with the idea of a colour-coordinated set of handbags. Given her past career, managing the finances of her start-up business was not a problem.

She established The Morphbag by GSK with a mission to empower women through handbags that have their busy lifestyle in mind and are so versatile that they can colour adapt to their capsule wardrobe.

Tell us more about your company and its mission and vision; how does it thrive towards enabling advancements in the dynamic business arena?

The key challenge was learning everything else there is to know – e.g., sourcing materials and production, developing a website, managing photo shoots, executing digital marketing, developing blogs and newsletters, and relentlessly networking.

My vision is to promote a sustainable way of life by creating multi-purpose and seasonless handbags that are based on colour-analysis to perfectly accessorise individual wardrobes and incentivise women to choose well, buy less and build capsule wardrobes to allow them to style themselves perfectly and effortlessly while curbing over-consumption.

Enlighten us on how you have been impacting the niche through your expertise in the market.

While my Morphbags are vegan (made from recycled PU leather, Peta certified, Vegan Society Trademark) and thus ethical & sustainably produced, what makes them unique is that they are sustainable in their very DNA by their versatility and their terms of use and styling options. They are “slow fashion” in the true sense of the word, and we have won awards every single year since our launch for our unique concept.

What are the fundamentals that you implement to drive betterment within the work culture of your organization?

The fundamentals of my company are embedded in our business strategy through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals we are working towards in collaboration with The Conscious Fashion Campaign.

There are 17 SDGs in total, and we have identified 4 SDGs as key drivers for our business – key targets that align with our business model and desired impact. These are SDG12 Responsible Production and Consumption, SDG13 Climate Action, SDG15 Life on Land and SDG17 Partnerships for the Goals.

Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.

The Morphbag, by GSK’s foundational values, is based on four fundamental goals:

  1. To break the misconception that vegan leather compromises on look and quality and to reduce the demand for animal leather and deforestation due to cattle farming. We also plant 1 tree in the Amazon Rainforest for every handbag sold to support OneTreePlanted reforestation efforts in the Amazon.
  2. To encourage sustainable shopping by offering a product that offers so much versatility that it minimises the need to keep shopping to serve different uses or styling purposes.

III. To empower women by tailoring handbag designs to their multi-tasking lifestyle and to their desire for effortless style.

  1. To build a community of women that empowers women through sharing inspirational personal stories in The Empowering Morph-Moment Interview Series.

Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?

My business’s most important technological advancements are research into vegan, ethical and bio-degradable materials. The most important step to combat climate change is to reduce overconsumption, use materials already in circulation, and create materials that can bio-degrade.

What, according to you, could be the next significant change in your sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?

The fashion industry has been a major culprit in climate change and the loss of biodiversity. Circular business models are the future, and we are already seeing an increase of the secondary market with pre-loved fashion stores and fashion exchanges. The Morphbag collaborates with the Smartworks charity by donating show samples.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for your company?

I am developing new collections aimed at women with different lifestyles, using new sustainable and ethical materials. I am now working on a project that would support local artisans and their unique crafts.

What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the dynamic business arena?

We are operating in a very saturated market, and it is essential to research exhaustively to find a niche in which to operate without being swallowed by the fierce competition of large players and fast fashion. Passion in what you are doing is important for resilience; uniqueness of proposition is key for survival.