shemakes Voices: Gabriela Macoveiu
Gabriela Macoveiu speaks about how regional policies impacts gender issues
Gabriela Macoveiu is the Director of Communication, Innovation and External Co-operation at the North-East Regional Development Agency. She works in regional development, technical assistance and training with both public and private institutions.
For the shemakes Voices series, Gabriela is interviewed by Caterina Ailiesei, founder and CEO of Katty Fashion/Reginnova NE and member of TCBL.
Caterina Ailisei: What is the most interesting thing you have ever done?
Gabriela Macoveiu: That’s a challenging question! I am an engineer by training and I worked in the synthetic fiber industry for almost ten years. Then I made a big change by applying to a job at the Regional Development Agency, a totally new initiative in Romania. Now I am part of an organisation of 200 people, working with a talented group of 31 professionals and each week we have a project that we can be proud of. I guess that this career challenge has been a bold but also really cool choice, right?
CA: How do you get involved in changing the textile and fashion industry in a region?
GM: I decided to get involved when I realised that the T&C industry occupies an unfortunate second place in Europe in terms of producing waste. Textile industry is part of the tradition of the North-East region, it has more than 1.000 companies operating in the sector with 24.000 active jobs. This means that we have to care about the future of these people and work towards a more sustainable approach both practically and ethically. The RDA is a facilitator. We help entrepreneurs, researchers and organisations to implement innovative and sustainable ideas in their businesses. We also open dialogues with the general public and individuals through awareness campaigns and communication events.
CA: Tell us about your diverse background. How did you develop your skills?
GM: Formal education is fundamental. It helps develop logical and structured thinking. You read, you study and then practice. Practice is the first step of learning. You are not allowed to say “I don’t know it” if you haven’t looked for the answers first and you learn from taking risks, dealing with success and failure.
What I like about the shemakes project is that it wants to change the perspective that we have of the T&C industry: it’s not about low pay and sitting at a sewing machine for eight hours per day, it’s about learning, innovating, developing practical skills. At the same time, for entrepreneurs it means interacting with other European professionals who are trying to change the concept of the industry and give a role model of ruling women with innovative ideas, talented teams, ethical and sustainable purposes.
CA: Being a woman in the T&C industry. What do you think?
GM: We don’t have enough female role models, at least in Romania. I also think that you earn respect with work and accomplishments. This applies to everybody. We should encourage people to earn respect, not just demand it.
CA: What do you think about this sustainable awareness that has been developing among entrepreneurs and researchers lately? Is the fashion industry capable of change?
GM: At first it seemed that circular economy projects were limited to the scientific community, for the experts. But over time I see that entrepreneurs have realised that sustainable measures can actually help increase revenues. Producing sustainable products or implementing additional features to the existing ones is no longer seen as an utopia. I also really like the idea of buy-back in the textile industry: taking back the garments from the consumer and using the waste as raw material for new products. Shemakes and TCBL are doing this incredible job of building a community of talented and creative people who really want to change the game.
CA: What is your advice for innovative women?
GM: The T&C industry is highly competitive. Taking extra risks, such as that of sustainability, is not easy. Entrepreneurs are responsible for keeping everyone in their jobs, after all. The good news is that it is also one of the ingredients for success. Those who have risked have always learned something even when they didn’t succeed. Another advice I would like to give is to never stop connecting and networking: take a look around, find someone that shares your same values and objectives and ask to collaborate, success will be much more enjoyable!
The #shemakesVoices Quiz
Prior to the digital interview we asked Gabriela to respond to questions to get to know her better. The result is the image featured above that reflects her work, ideas and outlook on life.
If you were an animal what would you be, and why? A cat, because they are the masters, never the servants.
What city do you identify with and why? Rome. The architecture, the citizens and the sky are incomparable
If you were to leave your favorite object to the next generation, what would it be and why? I usually don't connect with objects but with people. In Romania we say "if you build a home, plan a tree and have a child, you did not leave for nothing".
What impact do you hope your work will have on the future of the sustainable fashion industry (or beyond!)? We live to be dressed or we dress for a living. If I can contribute to make these more sustainable, I am totally ok.
Shemakes voices is the digital interview series that celebrates women innovators in the textile and clothing industry. Each month a partner of the shemakes consortium will dialogue with one of our advisors: a diverse group of women who have succeeded in building movements or services, or exploring innovations and technologies in the textile industry.