What inspired you to launch Loopster?
I was previously an investigative filmmaker. When I went undercover in Bangladesh to make a film about child labour making clothes for a major retailer, I learned first-hand about the human cost of fast fashion. When I became a mum, I felt uncomfortable constantly buying new clothes for my growing son. As a super busy working mum, I didn’t have time to shop and selling second-hand for my son even though I knew it was more sustainable. I became inspired to find a better way.
What are your sustainable priorities for the business?
Loopster is closing the loop between the use and reuse of kids’ clothes. Parents order a Loopy Clear Out Bag, fill it with their children’s’ outgrown clothes and we do the rest. We buy everything that is in good condition and sell it to parents at a quarter of High Street prices. Extending the life of a child’s t-shirt by just nine months will significantly reduce its carbon and water footprints: to make one kilo of cotton -the equivalent of a pair of jeans – manufacturers use 10,000-20,000 litres of water and produce 23.2 kilos of CO2. We are also reducing the amount of clothes sent to landfill. If the parent agrees, everything we reject is sent to the charity Traid, so that no item goes to waste.
How has your eco strategy developed as you have grown?
We are hoping work to develop a set of tools to measure how much we are reducing the environmental impact of the clothes that we are selling by extending their life. Traid measures the environmental impact of the clothes we have donated to them. So far, we have donated over half a tonne of clothes, reducing those clothes emissions by 5.3 tonnes.
How challenging has it been to maintain your eco principles?
Sustainability is the heart of the Loopster operation. It is our top priority, but of course it can be challenging at times given the number of elements and steps that go into running a growing business.
What have been your biggest milestones and triumphs until now?
Our customer base and traffic to our website has grown significantly in the twenty months we have been trading. We have also had some great media attention; we have been featured on BBC Radio 4 You and Yours, in The Guardian and on Drapers website as “a resale business to know”. Most importantly we have had some lovely feedback from our customers. Just today, a customer posted “Beautiful clothes , arrived quickly and well packaged, great price and good for the environment.”
What have been the main prohibitors to your progress in building a sustainable business?
For Loopster to become viable we need to scale significantly and develop our tech further. To get to that point we are currently raising investment.
Do you feel pressure from your customers to be more eco?
The area we need to improve upon is our packaging. We are currently using recyclable plastic but plan to switch to non-plastic packaging once we scale.
What advice would you give to anyone hoping to launch a sustainable business?
Although sustainability is very “of the moment”, it is a tough space in which to start a business. You need to be very determined and willing to face challenges head on. But if you are willing to put in the work, it is a very rewarding experience!
Which other sustainable businesses have inspired you?
I am inspired by the big resellers in the US. In particular, the massive reseller Thredup, a managed marketplace that delivers a higher level of customer service compared to websites like eBay. ThredUp is literally changing the way that Americans shop, which I find very exciting.