An Interview with Jessie Atkins of BERG+BETTS

Jessie founded the sustainable watch brand Berg and Betts in 2013, selling casually on Etsy then launched her very own website at BERG+BETTS.

Tell us about yourself – familial/personal story, education, and prior work.

Jessie Atkins

Jessie Atkins

I am a mom to two little boys under the age of three, a wife to my wonderful husband, and I am the founder of the sustainable watch business BERG+BETTS.

I have formal education in human nutrition and for most of my twenties I worked in that industry with a fire in my belly that said I was meant to do something different. I come from a family of makers and creative entrepreneurs and I always knew I was destined to work for myself in one capacity or another. My passion for re-purposing started very young with an attitude that if I wanted something, I could make it, and if I didn’t have the materials, I could find them. This passion for re-purposing combined with the desire to be my own boss lead me to start BERG+BETTS.

What is the importance of ethical fashion to you?

Ethical fashion is very important to me as a producer, a consumer and as a human. It’s important that we all strive for transparency in our supply chains and that we support businesses who are making an effort to upcycle, re-use or re-purpose materials, pay fair wages and who treat employees with dignity and respect. The shift to slow fashion won’t happen overnight but businesses and consumers recognizing the need – that’s important.

Berg + Betts watch straps are made from off cuts of designer leather

Berg + Betts watch straps are made from off cuts of designer leather

What is the importance of sustainable fashion to you?

Sustainable fashion is the foundation of BERG+BETTS’ mission. We’ve all heard it before, but the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world and perfectly good, often new textiles are filling our landfills. Finding ways to reduce waste and sustainably produce clothing and accessories is absolutely imperative to the longevity of the industry and our environment.

What is BERG+BETTS?

BERG+BETTS crafts sustainable timepieces out of surplus scrap leather that would otherwise go to waste. We believe you shouldn’t have to sacrifice style for sustainability and it is our mission to provide eco-friendly products that are sophisticated, responsible, and affordable.

What makes the company unique?

Not only do we not produce textile waste, we actually take waste, re-purpose it and eliminate it. Watch straps require such a small amount of leather that it was a no-brainer for us to source scraps from the biggest waste producing countries in the world and turn it into fashion forward timepieces.

Round classic Berg + Betts watches in blue and cream $129

Round classic Berg + Betts watches in blue and cream $129

What other work are you involved in at this point in time?

Being a mother. Hands down the hardest, yet most fulfilling job in the world. Between my two boys and my business, I have three children that require all my attention and competing priorities are a daily struggle.

What meaning or personal fulfillment does this work bring for you?

A lot. I am creatively fulfilled and I am learning more about business everyday. More importantly, I am doing something really good and important for our environment while setting an example and paving the way for sustainable fashion in Canada.

With regard to ethical and sustainable fashion companies, what’s the importance of them now?

They are the way of the future. They need to become the new normal. It’s rare that a business can change its practices overnight, so we need to support those who are conscious of the need for change and who are moving us in the right direction

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About the Author

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping and gardening, and runs In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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