Inniskillin Changemaker: Lindsay Lorusso
“In whatever you do, do it through a sustainable lens.”
In partnership with Inniskillin, Canada’s first estate winery, Startup Canada is celebrating and spotlighting leading entrepreneurial changemakers and disruptors across Canada. Startup Canada was pleased to sit down with Lindsay Lorusso, CEO of NUDNIK to learn about their journey and the impact of their work.
Lindsay Lorusso spent 15+ years innovating in the waste management space prior to launching her own apparel brand, Nudnik (alongside her twin sister) to tackle the growing global waste problem. With a deep understanding of circular product design, Nudnik transforms the softest organic cotton off/cut fabrics, that would otherwise pollute the planet, into unisex contemporary kidswear with monthly rotating themes. All nudnik products and packaging are fully compostable and recyclable. Lindsay believes that the biggest resource this decade will be waste. She is passionate about making coveted products made entirely from waste that will never contribute to waste.
SC: In one sentence, what does being an entrepreneurial changemaker mean to you?
LL: Being an entrepreneurial changemaker means I can continue to live at the intersection between positive impact and profitability, a space in which I’m very happy to exist.
SC: Tell us about your entrepreneurial venture(s) – what do you do? What role has it played in your life?
LL: At Nudnik, our philosophy is a simple one; we create products from waste that never contribute to waste! Our current product line, for kids, is a collection of everyday, unisex basics that are made entirely from organic cotton off/cut fabrics that would otherwise pollute our planet. We offer rotating, monthly themes based around the colour of the scrap available to us on our online shop and in select retail across North America. Nudnik 2021 will see a lot of expansion into other product lines for both kids and adults and some pretty badass collaborations too!
Nudnik is a creative spin off of my twin sister Alex’s and my prior career in waste management. Our father co-owns Wasteco, one of Canada’s largest privately owned waste companies. We grew up in the industry and I’m truly a lifer. I believe waste will be the biggest commodity in this decade and I’m stoked to be a part of the circular movement.
SC: What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
LL: I’ve always been an entrepreneur. My parents always said from a very young age that I beat to my own drum! I’m passionate about change, innovation and disruption and prior to Nudnik I personally worked for Wasteco for 15+ years. I’m sure I drove all my old bosses completely crazy! I think I had a new proposal in, likely every quarter, with suggestions on how we could improve, innovate and create new opportunities to grow.
SC: What are you most proud of related to your venture(s)?
LL: I’m proud that we are truly challenging current norms and disrupting nearly every facet of how we manufacture, consume and dispose of apparel. This is just the beginning!
SC: Tell us about your biggest hurdle – what was it and how did you persevere through it?
LL: Our biggest hurdle was and is always scaling mono-material products made 100% from waste that are truly compostable or recyclable. Mono-material products are products that are made only from one material type. The mixture of different materials is one of the key reasons why so many products end up in landfill.
SC: What has your biggest learning been along the way?
LL: We’re fortunate to have gone through 2 of Canada’s top accelerator programs; one of them being NEXT Canada’s Next Founders program. At NEXT, I essentially went through an accelerated executive MBA program taught by top professors from Rotman, MIT, Harvard, etc. and super successful entrepreneurs, like NEXT Canada’s founder, Reza Satchu. I owe a lot of early fundamentals to them. I’d say the biggest learning though would be how to balance startup life and being a mom, especially during a global pandemic where all lines have been blurred.
SC: What drives your motivation when things get tough?
LL: My kids. Period. Climate change is real and we need to reverse global warming in order to secure a healthy planet for their future. Nudnik is an example of a brand that creates stylish, contemporary products that don’t harm the planet. I hope to be a leading example for others in this space and am also an open book —anyone is able to reach out to me, at any point, and I will provide feedback on how they can make their product(s) circular.
SC: Where can people go to learn more about your journey and organization?
SC: What is your ideal vision for Canada’s entrepreneurship community over the next 20 years?
LL: Dr David Suzuki gave me valuable advice a couple of years ago; in whatever you do, do it through a sustainable lens. Canada’s entrepreneurship community is diverse, strong and thriving. Aside from innovating in many different sectors, whether in tech, product or service, my hope is that we always keep the health of our people and planet at the forefront.
SC: What do you think today’s entrepreneurs should be focused on for a better, brighter future?
LL: Diversity, inclusion and sustainability.
Are you an avid supporter of Canada’s entrepreneurship community? Share Lindsay’s story or showcase your OWN entrepreneurial changemaker across social platforms with the hashtag #CheersToTheChangemakers!