F4D’S F4D AWARD
A philanthropist, investor, humanitarian and sustainability advocate, Carmen Busquets’ career first began in the luxury fashion industry, and has now spanned over three decades. She started with her own fashion boutique in her hometown of Caracas, Venezuela in 1990 at age 25 – the first of its kind in Latin America to house international designers. This venture was followed by various well-being endeavors in the early years of the Internet, including a collaboration with Deepak Chopra. Then, in the late ‘90s, she made history in the online fashion space when she became the first co-founding investor in Net-A-Porter, after meeting with Natalie Massenet. Busquets has since mentored and invested in founders with disruptive ideas to create a diverse group of companies and start-ups that, through technology and sustainability, contribute to a new economy. Her portfolio now focuses on luxury fashion, beauty and well-being, such as pre-order platform Moda Operandi, and rental companies such as Armarium and VillageLuxe, that work towards easing over-consumption and slowing down consumerism. Her other notable investments include Cult Beauty, currently the U.K.’s fastest-growing beauty e-tailer, the Business of Fashion, the fashion industry’s go-to resource, Farfetch and more. Around the world, approximately 10,000 jobs have been created from her investments, causing a ripple effect that will reverberate through future generations.
Over the past several years, Busquets has increasingly focused her efforts on charitable causes and educational initiatives, collaborating with a host of global bodies, world leaders and nonprofit organizations. Among these are the WWF, the Bhutanese government and Royal Family, the Bhuatn Nuns’ Foundation, Latin American-focus groups, PACUNAM and Glasswing, sustainability consultancy to Eco-Age, the Oslo Freedom Forum, the charitable app Elbi founded by Natalia Vodianova, and the Fashion Trust arm of the British Fashion Council to support emerging fashion talents.
The period spent connecting on these initiatives has led to a series of notable achievements. With the WWF and the Royal Government of Bhutan, as well as a number of passionate environmentalists including Leonardo DiCaprio, Busquets was a part of the ‘Bhutan For Life’ initiative – the greatest conservation story of our time. Placed right at the heart of the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is one of the world’s 10 most biodiverse regions, and this innovative financing project, which secured $43 million, will safeguard 5 million acres of protected land and wildlife over a span of 14 years. Most importantly, the projects will educate local communities on how to preserve their land and sustain themselves, paying forward to the next generation through this transfer of knowledge.
The political unrest and human rights violations in Venezuela, which began in 2017, has been particularly unsettling for Busquets who had to flee her country when Hugo Chavez took to power in the late ‘90s. One specific case that touched her deeply, saw the unlawful arrest of young violinist Willy Arteaga, who famously played his violin as a fight against oppression during the protests, and became a national symbol of resistance. Arteaga was arrested while playing the violin during a protest in Caracas and taken to a military prison. Busquets worked with the Oslo Freedom Forum on funding, and donated to help release him on parole, then invited him to New York to speak at the forum and implemented a funding program to help him resettle and continue his music studies.
Earlier this year, she traveled to El Salvador to take part in mentoring young girls via the youth development programs led by Glasswing, an organization for which she serves on the board and generously supported in order for them to expand in the U.S. She continues to work with the nonprofit in aims of empowering at-risk Latin American youth.
Expanding on her commitment to sustainability, she was part of leading the gathering of a group of environmentalists, scientists, journalists, humanitarian-minded entrepreneurs and Latin American artisans in San Jose, Costa Rica this year. Attended by Livia Firth, designer and humanitarian Donna Karan, OSKLEN founder and UNESCO goodwill ambassador Oskar Metsavaht, and many more inspirational participants, the group subsequently formed together as a coalition – a strong global network that will pool its resources to promote all pillars of sustainability, as well as mentor and support creatives in Latin America and beyond to shift their mindset towards a more conscious consumerism.
A true global citizen, Busquets splits her time between Switzerland, Europe and the U.S., and spends ample time in New York, London and Paris for business, where she mentors the founders of the start-ups she supports, as well as Bhutan and Central America for humanitarian work. She devotes much of her time to mind-body disciplines, something instilled in her by her parents since childhood, who followed George Gurdjieff’s methods. A devotee to spirituality and self-development, she is above all an advocate and defender of the right to education and freedom in all its guises.