The Story Of Kim Aplonia Poldner

Kim Aplonia Poldner has been a big inspiration for us since we got to know her about four years ago. Kim has had multiple startups in the sustainable fashion space and now focuses on sustainability in a broader sense as a professor of Circular Business at The Hague University of Applied Sciences.


It is early 2005 when Kim Poldner and her longtime friend and business partner think about starting their own sustainable label. During this time, sustainability is not a main topic in the world, but the two embark on this journey with lots of enthusiasm.

"Back then no one was really working on sustainable fashion. Even though this was the case, we managed to get our collection into De Bijenkorf through a shop in shop construction, which proved to us that there was a market for this."

Kim Poldner header 2


Even though the start was amazing, there were a lot of challenges within the startup, and the two founders parted ways. After this, Kim went abroad for her studies. This is where she met three Canadians and formulated the next step in her sustainability-related journey; Eco Fashion World. This was one of the first platform that was solely focused on sustainable brands.  At its top, more than 200 brands were on the platform. Sadly the business model proved to be really challenging and Kim had other things going on in life too.


"By that time I was also doing my PhD, which took a lot of my time. During that time I also got my first kid, so I was running three jobs at the same time. This was not sustainable for myself, so I had to make some difficult decisions."


Kim really enjoyed research and teaching, so she decided to pursue her academic career and made an exit from Eco Fashion World. Because now she had more time, she could finish up her PhD and go on with helping others pursue their entrepreneurial journeys.



"The nice thing about entrepreneurship is that you can transfer all the skills to other parts in your life too. When I exited my last startup, my skills still went with me in my academic career. I am still able to find and grab opportunities, which is what I call entrepreneuring life."

One interesting thing that Kim is working on is called "regenerative leadership". This goes further than the circular economy and offers a better perspective on how we can heal and restore the planet. She aims to help others in leadership positions that cover different sectors adopting this transformation. 

According to Kim, a good example of this regenerative approach is the Oosterwold project in Almere. In this area the municipality gave the to-be homeowners the freedom to build their own town and infrastructure in accordance with circular and regenerative principles. So in this case there was a top-down decision made by the local leadership to implement a new approach, which has been proven very fruitful for everyone involved.

The future of fashion is dependent on the intersection of new entrepreneurship with more focus on impact rather than profits, and the research part of academics, which can guide the entrepreneurs in the right direction for a better future.

Since Kim has this unique combination of an entrepreneurial background, mixed with deep industry knowledge through her PhD and academic achievements, she is always on top when it comes to applying new information in the work environment and in teaching enthusiastic students and starting entrepreneurs.

"If you are starting a business with idealism at its core, it is important to not forget about the business and financial side too. Many startups fail because of this lack of insight. They have great ideas, but don’t have a sounds financial outlook. Idealism needs to be accompanied by realism."

Startup success

You can listen to the whole story in our podcast interview with Kim. You’re also more than welcome to give her a follow on LinkedIn, where she regularly posts about sustainable fashion and circularity in general.

With stories like these, we want to shape a future with athletes of nature. Those who reach their goals without compromising on nature. If you want us to interview/cover another cool person, let us know!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.