Rhianna Knight - In My Handbag Resilience Series
Founder of Team Timbuktu
Before we deep dive, let's paint the picture. Who are you and how did you get here?
I'm Rhianna, the founder and director of Team Timbuktu - a sustainable outdoors brand for women; creating raincoats, puffer jackets and activewear from recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. I studied fashion at uni, worked for a snowboarding company managing their design and production management before deciding to dive into the deep end and launching my own brand after I'd spent 10 years being frustrated that I had to purchase and wear the ugliest (and unsustainable) clothes simply to get outdoors and go for a hike. I'm pretty stubborn (or tenacious, if we're being polite) and I thought I could do better than what else was out there already.
We're very value-aligned (otherwise you wouldn't be here!) but what are you doing to change the world and why?
By creating Team Timbuktu I'm hoping to inspire women to get outdoors, not to be the fittest, fastest or the most extreme in whatever activity you chose to do, but simply to get out there for the fresh air, the love and joy of it. And by spending more time in nature, you inherently become much more connected to it, wanting to ensure we're not trashing our planet; over time coming to the realisation that there's always the opportunity to further reduce your impact, be that through your wardrobe, kitchen, recycling or superannuation (or hopefully all of them!). I'm also incredibly passionate about improving supply chains, transitioning away from conventional synthetic fibres made from oil and utilising alternate materials, making the goal of sustainability mainstream as a core goal. Some big goals for some stretchy pants and raincoats I know!
In your line of work, what are some of the challenges you face and what is your strategy/coping method to tackle them? Insert One Red Hot Resilience Tip.
I think as a business that is committed to operating as sustainably, ethically and responsibly as we can it's difficult to accept that we're not perfect (and no business will ever be). For example our care labels aren't yet recycled and we haven't begun to figure out how we can be carbon neutral, which of course is so incredibly important - making it all a little overwhelming at times. But I think it's critical to remember we're all only human, and we are trying our god damn best at changing the world one raincoat at a time, so as long as we are committed to continual improvement and ensuring we're always implementing new things and processes to reduce our impact, that might be the best we can do, and that is okay.
We like to think we're pretty DTE, what is the one DTE thing you'd say about yourself? (Get your head out of the gutter - we mean Down To Earth). i.e how do you stay grounded/real.
I'm happiest when I'm disconnected from the internet, out in the elements, with enough dirt under my fingernails that you'd probably be concerned about when I last had any contact with civilisation.
The internet rules the World these days, we can't live with it and we can't live without it. What is your relationship with Media (both digital and social) like and how do you manage it? Be honest.
Intense love and hate. Without the internet I wouldn't have a business, a community and the ability to build a brand. Yet, on the flip side it is so, so easy to get caught up in the scrolling, the comparison and negativity. I cherish the deep connections and the ease it's afforded us, yet loathe how I'm addicted to it - if you could only see how many times I've downloaded and deleted Tik Tok you'd understand!
There is so much going on at the moment, and sometimes nothing at all. What has the last two years taught you and what are some of the tools you have built to get through it?
I thought I didn't care about footwear at all, but slippers are my favourite shoes (even more so than hiking boots), the comfort is next level and I can't believe I didn't get onto them sooner! But perhaps more importantly, that life is so precious and can be so short, and I personally believe it's so important that you figure out what you want; be that within your career, a relationship, life goals, fitness, or anything that matters to you. Because however you define success is entirely different to everyone else, so if we've all only got one shot at this thing called life and don't really know how long it'll be for (fingers crossed to hit the 100 milestone though) we may as well make sure we're happy and fulfilled and as best as possible living how we'd like - acknowledging of course that, that sentence is loaded in privilege, and also what a privilege it is to even being able to dream higher than achieving the basics of food, shelter and safety when so many aren't in as a fortunate position to do so.
Time travel isn't an option (yet) but if you could go back and whisper sweet-nothings to your younger self - what would they be?
That it doesn't matter if you don't have it all figured it out yet. The process of 'figuring it out' is a long, beautiful, winding process that literally never ends, so being excited and curious enough to try and figure things out is a pretty good start.