Susanna Wen

Lisa is an authentic East Ender of Polish and Irish descent. Lisa cares deeply about the community and making Tower Hamlets safe and inclusive for everyone, having always lived and worked locally. She started her career as a market trader and from an early age was honing her entrepreneurial skills. Lisa went on to support at-risk young people with legal issues and appeals. As a community volunteer, Lisa has raised substantial funds for education and charitable organisations and has strategically supported many more.

Lisa is a fellow of The School of Social Entrepreneurs, graduating in 2013.

She was also recognised in 2021 by being a winner of the Social Innovation Prize. This is is awarded annually by Trinity Hall College Cambridge, and the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation based at  University of Cambridge Judge Business School. It is given to a few chosen individuals for their achievement to date and for their ambitious plans for the future.

As the founder of Social Ark, Lisa helps grassroots social entrepreneurs, whom she describes as ‘hidden gems’, to use their lived experience to develop social businesses and to create a better life for themselves and the community around them.

Susanna Wen is a Designer who works with talented makers facing barriers to employment to reach financial security and through fashion.
Susanna believes it is possible to create beautiful exciting clothing that is made in the most joyful way possible for people and planet, without exploitation.
Susanna has been co-running social enterprise Birdsong since 2016 and her designs have been featured in Stylist, Vogue, The Guardian, Refinery29 and Harpers Bazaar and has directly contributed to £150k worth of living wage work to those in marginalised backgrounds.

Susanna was listed on F30U30 for Social Entrepreneurs 2019 and was a WISE100 Environmental Champion Finalist in 2022.
Susanna holds a BA(Hons) degree in Fashion Design from Kingston University.

Susanna Wen studied Fashion Design, focusing her dissertation research on waste in the fashion industry, and its ecological and human costs. She graduated from Kingston University in 2014 with an award winning “Most Ethical and Sustainable Collection”, made with completely natural dyes and biodegradable fibres.

A WISE100 Environmental Champion Finalist for 2022, Susanna has always focused on sustainable and ethical design, in her previous roles designing for People Tree and Boden. Upon being offered a freelance role at Birdsong in 2016, Susanna worked her way up, eventually becoming Creative Director and Co-Founder.

As a second generation, biracial British-Chinese woman, Susanna has always wanted to challenge colonial attitudes to fashion production. She hopes to do so with Birdsong’s mission to create fashion goods locally,

“Production for a lot of fashion brands is so far away it is often easy to consider who makes your clothes as ‘other’. That’s why we make locally and in a different way to fast fashion brands, making a point of knowing every single person we work with so everyone feels respected and like they belong.

I’ve built up really close and mutually beneficial relationships with the women who make our clothes. We check in really regularly, we work within 5 miles of most of the people that make our clothes so I see them most weeks or at least speak to them.. We build empathetic and genuine professional relationships with each of our makers and charity partners.

Susanna is also passionate about Birdsong’s body positive messaging, and available for comment on their plus size offering, which currently goes up to a size UK 30.

“Growing up in the 90’s and early 00’s reading fashion magazines was really destructive to me. Going through disordered eating as a young adult and receiving professional treatment for it has instilled in me the value of body positivity and pride in your appearance, however different it might be from the status quo. We try to have a diverse range of models to celebrate and wear our clothes. I wanted to build a fashion brand that had positive body representation and I wished a brand existed like birdsong when I was younger.”

Birdsong is a certified B-Corp, Winner of Marie’s Claire’s Best Ethical Brand of 2021 and the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Award in Sustainable Development [EMBARGOED UNTIL 21ST APRIL]. Birdsong has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia, The Independent and on the BBC, whilst also cultivating a committed fan base and unrivalled reputation for ethics.

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