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The entrepreneur turning lost fishing nets into bikinis

High 5 to Katrine Lee Larsen, founder of Copenhagen Cartel
Interview: Daiana Contini
Photos courtesy of Copenhagen Cartel

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5 is here to celebrate and connect people and organisations who are having a positive impact on the world. Our High 5 series gives the stage to these inspiring people – and asks them to pass the High 5 on to someone who has inspired them.

Our first High 5 goes to Katrine Lee Larsen, CEO and founder of Copenhagen Cartel, which makes swimwear out of plastic nets that have been abandoned or lost in the ocean. Katrine told us what inspired her, what advice she has for others, and who she’d like to give a High 5 to.

What inspired you to do what you do?

The trauma of seeing with my own eyes the consequences that decades of plastic consumption have had on our planet. I am a true ocean lover and my best hours are spent in and around the ocean. It broke my heart to see how we slowly but steadily were destroying the ocean. I lived in Bali, where it was much more visible than in Denmark, and I just couldn’t unsee what I had seen. So I knew I had to contribute somehow. The answer became Copenhagen Cartel.

What advice would you give to others who want to make a positive impact?

When starting your own business, every day is a new challenge. But having my purpose as a guide has helped me in many important situations, whether it be choosing new investors or a new hire or even creating a new marketing campaign. The entrepreneurial world is traditionally dominated by a set of masculine values, leaving no or little room for emotions and purpose. But my own journey has proven that it is actually a big advantage to have a strong purpose and an emotional approach. I think we are entering a new entrepreneurial paradigm that puts purpose above profit, and that gives room for a whole new era of entrepreneurs. I’m excited.

Who would you like to pass a High 5 on to?

One woman I think deserves a lot of attention because she is super inspiring is Signe Simonsen, the founder of Race for Oceans. She is keeping the west coast of Denmark clean and is about to launch her initiative in 20 more countries. And she is doing all of this with a full-time job on the side.

High 5 Katrine!

About Copenhagen Cartel
Copenhagen Cartel makes swimwear and activewear out of recycled ocean plastic. It’s a way of using up the dangerous ‘ghost nets’ that would otherwise float around the oceans killing thousands of sea creatures. Copenhagen Cartel’s production process also demands far less energy and resources than producing new nylon, minimising their carbon footprint.