The journey of ProductDNA® from concept to reality with Sara Kwok
Jul 11, 2023
The fashion and footwear industry is undergoing a digital transformation, and one person leading the change is Sara Kwok, the group CIO and UK Managing Director at Trimco Group. With her innovative and determined mindset, Sara has brought to life ProductDNA®, which is quickly gaining recognition, like the nomination for the Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards and attracting more brands every day.
Sara's background in industrial engineering and management consulting with global companies on business transformation, leveraging IT technology and process re-engineering, paved the way for her to dive into the textile industry almost a decade ago. She saw how passionate brands were about their branding and styles and how garment factories focused on quality and lead time, so she set out to give back to the supply chain. And that's where the concept for ProductDNA® originated from - Sara found herself staying late in the office completing compliance and transparency declarations and thought there had to be a better way. So, she drew up a conceptual model and asked her IT team to build a proof of concept system. And voilà, ProductDNA® was born.
Can ProductDNA® solve the fashion industry’s biggest challenge?
Can one solution really make a difference in an industry that's facing numerous challenges, like increased production costs and reduced consumer spend? Sara believes so. She's seen how brands have used ProductDNA® to identify suppliers who need help with social compliance and created training plans for them, resulting in improved working conditions and a more compliant and collaborative supply chain.
“I’d say Product DNA® provides a platform for brands to collaborate with their supply chain partners to achieve common goals in a more effective way. They understand each other better and work closer to achieve common EGS goals.”, mentions Sara.
Keeping up with the stream of regulations
It is no news that the industry has been challenged to take action and several regulations are being implemented globally for them to comply with. “The biggest challenge faced by the industry is to keep up with the constant and continual change of regulations at the country level related to product sustainability, social compliance, and packaging compliance. Our industry-focused compliance team is playing a big part here. They provide brand-specific advice according to each brand’s unique business model. As we are part of the supply chain, we also know the advice is practical and easy to implement by our global supply network on the ProductDNA® platform.”
The biggest challenge faced by the industry is to keep up with the constant and continual change of regulations at the country level related to product sustainability, social compliance, and packaging compliance
As regulations and consumer demands continue to evolve and change, Sara envisions ProductDNA® as the platform that will evolve with its partners and supply chain as an ecosystem. And with Trimco Group’s industry-focused compliance team providing brand-specific advice, the fashion and footwear industry can keep up with the constant and continual change of regulations, making ProductDNA® a game-changer for textile transformation.
“The most important upcoming capability is Digital Product Passport which enables the brands to communicate their products to consumers in a digital way”, adds Sara. “ProductDNA® has already delivered this solution to a number of brands, and we will continue to support the industry changes using our local network, innovative technology, and supply chain collaboration.”
What is different about ProductDNA®?
Born from the need of both brands and the supply chain, what sets ProductDNA® apart from everything else is that “it is more than an IT Platform or compliance system. It is a supply chain solution including factory training, onboarding, and ongoing support locally in all key garment production countries. We truly want to connect the Brands closer to their factories, through our real people locally. And then, we don’t stop there. We support brands looking to implement initiatives for the garment’s end-of-life options, look at QR codes and RFID as additional technologies to support the Digital Product Passport (DPP) requirements, and much more. Being tailored to each brand according to their strategy and operation needs, ProductDNA® is truly a unique solution. Because brands are like people – different. ”, mentions Sara Kwok.
‘Produce what is needed’ and ‘Consume what is needed’
Sara shares that thanks to her studies as an industrial engineer, her personality was heavily influenced by Kanban principles of ‘Produce what is needed’ and ‘Consume what is needed’. Working with and within the textile industry and dealing with the sustainability topic as a professional, but also as a consumer, Sara says that personally, she “just does what she feels is appropriate and fair.”
"Sustainability is part of my life, both personally and professionally. If I need to relate it to my personal life, I could mention my husband who introduce the family to EVs three years ago and is in the process of installing solar panels on our roof.”
But the textile industry and other industries still need more solutions to solve their challenges, and Sara is, naturally, a big supporter of digital and tech to support change. Asked what her advice for other entrepreneurs who are looking to develop technology solutions for social or environmental challenges is, she mentioned:
“Get into the industry, work in it, and understand the people and challenges before trying to build a solution. The ESG challenge for each industry is unique and different. As technology advances I feel there’s ample room for solutions to help current challenges. But the solution must be practical to implement and sustainable to operate by all the partners in the industry. A generic IT system is not sufficient to resolve the challenge; it could introduce another level of burden to the industry which is counter-effective”.