What inspired you to launch The Restory?
The seed for the idea was planted when I first moved to London from New York and a high-street cobbler unapologetically ruined my favourite boots hours before a big interview. Over the years, some version of this kept happening. I felt trapped between untrustworthy high street options and brands and retailers who were disinclined or ill-equipped to help me. I thought there should be one place you can take it all and they will sort out the right thing to do and I should be able to manage it all from my phone.
What are your sustainable priorities for the business?
We are not in the business of telling people what to buy or how much to buy of this and not that. However with our services we can empower our clients to invest in the brands and items they love, knowing we are on hand to help make them last. Our aim is to inspire everyone to learn more about how to look after their items, including the skill and craft that goes into the services we provide. We hope that this combination results in a more mindful consumption, whether you are looking after items to keep or sell, or buying pre-loved you can do so in the knowledge that we have services and capabilities to provide the help you need.
How has your eco strategy developed as you have grown?
From the start our ambition was to provide restorations or repairs with as little visibility as possible and always providing a solution to the most challenging of problems. As these are core to the business we will always be dedicated to researching and developing our craft to ensure we have solutions, whether they are for new materials such as vegan leathers or unique repairs we haven’t previously worked on. Our eco strategy has developed as we are now not only testing for solutions but testing with more eco friendly products and ways to remove chemicals from our techniques. As we evolve and grow, so have our sustainability values in a broader sense throughout the business. Our packaging is made from recycled card and is printed with vegetable ink, for example, and we are continuously looking at ways to develop this further and reduce our footprint.
How challenging has it been to maintain your eco principles?
Our business is sustainable by design but I think eco principles are there to develop and grow, as we are continuously learning of new areas to focus our attention on and reduce our impact, as well as new solutions being on the market making it more accessible to solve problems sustainably. As a team we are all passionate about sustainability and work together to improve in all areas of the company. I think for a business to succeed in becoming more eco-friendly as well as everything else it needs to come from all departments. What can be a challenge as a young company is costs and having the capital to choose all the sustainable options from the start – I would suggest if you are unable to do so, create a roadmap and have a vision of the priorities and changes to improve the footprint that you will be making as you grow. What’s inspiring is seeing the sector grow and there being more sustainable options for companies to use that are becoming more financially accessible.
What have been your biggest milestones and triumphs until now?
We keep growing! We just quadrupled our space and we’ll be 30 people by the end of the year. This tells us that not only did we tap into a genuine gap in the market but that the market is growing. Of course, we aren’t the only ones who are responsible for this shift, but we know we have had a meaningful role in transforming aftercare from a high-street utility to an integral part of the fashion post-purchase experience. We’re so proud of that.
The Restory is also attracting some of the most amazing artistic talent that want to work with us and further the transformation. It’s fun and inspiring to watch them work as a team and innovate their craft every day.
What have been the main prohibitors to your progress in building a sustainable business?
We don’t have a typical profile for typical investors so we have worked hard to find those brave few who are willing to do what’s never been done before. There are only so many Fredrick Courts out there (The first investor in Farfetch).
Do you feel pressure from your customers to be more eco?
We do and we are happy to be challenged as I believe you can always improve your sustainability goals and build on milestones. We also see the importance of transparency for our partners, such as Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. Overall it’s great to see the wider shift in the retail and fashion industry for less waste and more visibility on supply chains.
What advice would you give to anyone hoping to launch a sustainable business?
Think about it from day one. Make it part of your architecture, your culture. There are a million things you can do large and small. And if the big stuff is not something you can do today (a big piece of equipment for example), put it on the roadmap so you are accountable as to when you will. Tell your team – they keep you honest.
Which other sustainable businesses have inspired you?
I think Veja’s story is so inspiring; the reinvention of a sneaker using sustainable resources is the epitome of innovation. Not only is Mother of Pearl’s ‘No Frills’ fully sustainable collection key to the slow fashion movement, but what they are doing in all areas of the business to be more sustainable is amazing. I also love that there is an online marketplace for honest luxury that has been consciously curated by the team at Rêve En Vert.
Read more inspiring stories in our Bringing Business to Life series.