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    Date submitted
  • 14-May-2017

Conscious layers


Minimizing textile waste

Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

Venture name Online mega op shopping platform Team Lead #1 Full Name Magdalena Kohut Team Lead #1 Degree & Stage of Study Doctorate of Philosophy (School of Chemical Sciences), 1st year Team Lead #1 University of Auckland ID Number 132652432 Team Member #2 Full Name Maja Zidov Team Member #2 Degree & Stage of Study Team Member #3 Full Name Yaki Wo Team Member #3 Degree & Stage of Study Team Member #4 Full Name Louise Heijnen Team Member #4 Degree & Stage of Study Team Member #5 Full Name Team Member #5 Degree & Stage of Study Public Disclosure Summary [30 words maximum, not included in 1,000 word limit] Briefly describe the venture, without disclosing any confidential or commercially sensitive information Taking op shops online to help grow demand for reused fashion. S1. What is your idea/innovation? (40%) What is the product or service you are trying to sell? What problem/opportunity does your product/service address? The Problem We desperately need to mainstream sustainable, affordable fashion options. Eco/ethical brands do not interest many due to the price premium and the limitations in styles and sizes. Fast fashion that is unsustainable is cheap, easily accessible and offers a range of styles and sizes. We believe that making secondhand the first choice for many is the way forward. However, people encounter many barriers when it comes to op shopping: TIME AND CLUTTER. It takes too long to find a treasure. When looking for a certain item people visit more than one op shop. ACCESSIBILITY AND AFFORDABILITY. Unfriendly shop hours (most are closed by 4pm and on Sunday) and most ‘cheap’ shops are ‘out of the way’ and accessible only by car. Vintage and preloved shops in the city (i.e. Krd and Ponsonby) have higher price tags and few parking spaces. SHOPPING EXPERIENCE. The sight, smell, dust i.e. the ambiance. PERCEPTIONS. (1) It’s not really for a mainstream consumer : “People that buy secondhand either can’t afford new or are naturally stylish and can make anything look good”. (2) It is not part of my culture: “never really occurred to me to buy secondhand - I sell my things on trade me and in recycle boutique but don’t buy”. (3) The “energy” of worn clothing that goes beyond hygiene that some are hesitant to “inherit”. On the other hand, Salvation Army, Dove Hospice, Auckland City Mission and Red Cross are all struggling to store, sort and manage the increasing and overwhelming amount of donations. Many donations they receive are either stained, ripped or too worn out for re-sale. The ones that make it through first selection, if not sold within a month, must leave the shop floor to make space for new donations. Some shops pay for clothes to be taken to a landfill. This is however often not publicly disclosed as there is a fear of turning donations away, which on average account for about 30% of their annual fundraising efforts. The solution Our solution is to create a mega online platform for op-shopping. We will sort through unsold clothing from op shops, take photos of them using volunteers from the community as models, code the items, list them online and transport them to our decentralised storage system from where they will be dispatched when orders come through. Customers can browse items online like any other online clothing store, and will be paying on average $25 per item. The price will include: the item + one swap. This is a two for the price of one sale model that discourages hyper-consumption and encourages shared economy thinking, while helping us spread out the costs of the infrastructure and time investment and encourage return customers. With our venture, we will work with charitable op shops to remove barriers people encounter when buying secondhand, increase the sales of clothing donations, reduce the pressure on their storage and cut the amount of textiles going to landfill. (494) S2. Describe your market / who is your target audience (40%) Who, specifically, will you sell/provide services to? How big is this market? Why will they buy your product/service? How do you know this? Who are your competitors? For social ventures: Who is your venture targeting and what is the size of this target group (target market)? Why will people use your product / service and how do you know this? Are there similar organisations addressing this issue? What is the impact your venture will have on your identified target market As a social venture, we would serve two target groups – the charities and people (man and women) that would love to shop secondhand clothes. Our point of difference is the profit-sharing model with charities with the purpose of funding joint projects to repair and upcycle “no good” donations, thereby addressing their waste problem upstream. Every kilo of recycled textiles also saves 3 kilo of carbon dioxide and every kilo of cotton salvaged and returned to textile saves 20 litres of water. The idea of repairing good quality clothing and selling it on was already tested with success during EcoWest festival, using Auckland City Mission stocks. Skilled amateurs willing to be part of this project have been lined up. We have also secured a verbal agreement with Ethnic Women Trust to mobilise their skilled seamstresses. To validate our assumptions we have spoken to op-shop managers and surveyed about 250 consumers - some dedicated, others periodical op-shoppers, as well as those that currently only buy new. All agree that there is space to make charity shopping more convenient. It was also validated that majority of people mistakenly believe that donating to charities keeps the clothes out of landfill (no matter their quality or state). While there is certainly a 95% potential to redistribute, repair and reuse textiles heading for landfills, we are not quite there yet. This is due to ongoing experimentation in field of efficient mixed content textile recycling and overall shared economy models, high cost of repairs and hyper consumption society. Some of the charities we spoke to said that they’ve tried to go online but found it too time consuming and/or have lack of in house skills to make it work. They rely on volunteers that are mostly older age demographic or immigrants still learning English. Limited space also means they need to move things fast and can’t store online stock. They found that they can sell more of their donations when moving items from one shop to the other. This is because each store reports having a lot of ‘repeat’ customers, and unless donations are their size and style, even if of great quality, they will not be purchased. This intra store exchange doesn’t happen all that often as donations have increased and it takes additional transport/logistics to do so. We have been invited by two charities to take the wasted stock from them - both the ‘no good’ ripped and stained donations, as well as ‘very good’ items that didn’t sell. There are already many small businesses that in part rely on buying bargains from these shops and selling online with a mark up using trade me and fb groups. 3 of such people we spoke to did not perceive us as a threat as they do small scale sales, are mostly focused on designer brands and already receive majority of their donations from individual donors. Furthermore, peer to peer services such as Designer Wardrobe and Carousel don’t take responsibility for risk associated in trading and purchasing process is sometimes not as straightforward (time to bid, ask questions, and follow up with exchange). When discussing partnerships, all interviewee highlighted ‘finding solution for all this waste’ as a more pressing issue than what we hypothesised would be - increasing their profit. According to the Environment Ministry, about 100,000 tonnes of textile waste are dumped annually, about 30 kilograms for each of us. Online shopping in New Zealand has nearly doubled in the last five years. Reason for it is convenience and ability to keep prices low. We would ride on this trend and address first three barriers. Long term objective of scaling up will make it possible for us to address the last barrier. (617 words) S3. Describe your team (15%) Include a brief description of each team member and the role they will play in the venture. Maja - community planner specialising in strategies for zero waste economy. Lead on op-shop partnerships and sourcing clothes. Yaki - Asia Lead of Architecture 2030. Responsible for stock management (inc. photo taking). Magdalena is a PhD student in Organic Synthetic Chemistry at the UoA. Customer service manager Louise is a communications student at AUT. Marketing and communications lead. S4. What resources do you have or need to continue the development of your idea? (Be brief) (5%) For MVP we would attend markets. We’ve got the access to stock and gear but need to develop our branding. CAPEX funding of $15 000 will be needed later for website, camera, storage boxes and company set up costs (inc. legal agreements).We have a website developer and designer that wants to work with us on this.