An ethical fashion start-up by two former Coventry University London business students defied the pandemic-induced economic downturn by adapting its fabrics to produce masks, loungewear and pyjamas to meet the needs of customers living under lockdown.

The award-winning ADKN (an acronym for Animal-free Designs and Kindness for Nature) was set up by Lavinia Rusu and Ashfakur Rahman after graduating from their BA in Global Business Management degree at Coventry University London in 2015.

The company makes premium quality fashion products based on very strict ethical and environmental standards. It says it is an exclusively 100 per cent animal-free, eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable fashion brand that is committed to help convert the entire fashion industry into a more conscious and sustainable sector.

Lavinia, who specialised in marketing on her BA degree, explains how they adapted to the pandemic: “We had to make changes to adapt to a dying economy and take risks outside of our comfort zone. We started off by repurposing our fabrics into making masks and PPE for donations, further starting to retail masks as well. This was our saving grace during the extraordinary times we all faced.”

Ashfakur, who credits his Coventry University degree with helping him to better understand demand and supply, scarcity of goods, and identifying niche developing markets, added: “We kept a close eye on the market and the environment we were all in and by analysing the needs of consumers we were able to be one step ahead and survive 2020 through our collection of masks, pyjamas and loungewear.”

The two business partners have weathered many challenges, including sourcing the right suppliers where there is very little available in terms of truly sustainable and ethical solutions, and finding the right personnel in a UK garments manufacturing industry that is in decline. Their biggest challenge was lack of investment opportunities.

ADKN are proud winners of the Green Business of the Year 2019, awarded by the Newham Chamber of Commerce and have been PETA-approved since day one.

Dr Socrates Karidis, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and CEO of Coventry University London, said: “We are delighted to see how the knowledge and skills Lavinia and Ashfakur developed during their degree course along with the practical experience they had as Coventry University London students are serving them well in the world of business, especially under the prevailing conditions where even seasoned high street brands have gone under. Our courses are current, relevant to the world of work and their strong employability features help bridge the gap between theory and practice. We aim to ensure our students are well equipped for employment or to start their own businesses.”

Coventry University London opened its doors to its first cohort of students in October 2010 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a high-achieving, globally recognised institution, providing business education in the centre of London.

Visit the Coventry University London website to find out more about the BA in Global Business Management and other courses on offer.