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S2E07: Sustainable Fashion Entrepreneurship with Loom Fashion



How does the fashion industry contribute to pollution? Why is fast fashion still so prevalent despite us knowing its environmental harms? What is it like starting your own fashion brand? Our guest this episode, Daisy Harvey from Loom Fashion, is an entrepreneur in the fashion space, specialising in connecting customers with sustainable fashion designers. With a wealth industry experience in the UK's largest fashion brands, she noticed a demand for sustainable and personalised fashion. Listen to this episode to learn more about Daisy’s entrepreneur journey and sustainable fashion!


Daisy has also kindly gifted our listeners a discount code! Get 10% off with the code GREENHOUSE. Check out Loom Fashion here: ⁠https://loom.fashion/⁠


Follow us on Instagram @lsesugreenfinance for updates on our podcast and for further enquiries, please contact us at greenfinance@lsesu.org


Listen to the episode here and see the transcript below!



Ingrid:

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another episode of The Greenhouse! We are Ingrid and Kareena, and we will be your hosts for today’s episode.


Kareena:

Today we are joined by Daisy Harvey, founder of circular fashion platform, Loom. Welcome Daisy! Could you give us a short introduction of yourself, including your background and your current work?


Daisy:

Hi, yeah, of course. Thanks so much for having me. So yes, as you said, I'm Daisy, I'm the founder of Loom. Loom is a circular fashion platform that connects you with designers to either upcycle your clothes or have anything custom made. I have always worked in fashion. So I started out in merchandising, and marketing. So I worked for brands like Burberry as well as smaller, sustainable fashion startups. And a few years ago, I actually launched another business, which was called Löfte, which was a sustainable fashion marketplace. And it was through speaking to my customers, that I realised that most of us want to shop sustainably, but we really struggled to find what we're looking for whether that's the right style, the right price, the right fit, or we're looking at all of these clothes that we have in our wardrobes and looking for a solution for those. So I started connecting my customers with designers to upcycle their clothes, or get custom made clothes made, and that gave me the idea for Loom.


Ingrid:

Alright, that sounds really interesting. And I mean, kind of still on that topic. Was there like any moment where you felt that like spark of inspiration to come up with a platform which matches designers with consumers to make like sort of bespoke clothing.


Daisy:

So I think it was really a slow burner, actually. So I, for me, a pivotal moment was about five years ago when I was working at another company. And I was actually on a work trip, and we came across a school that was protesting climate change. And they were handing out flyers asking ‘What's your impact going to be on our future?’ And at the time, obviously, working for fast fashion, it wasn't going to be very good. And so that moment was kind of a real kick to actually think about what do I want my kind of legacy to be? What do I want all the work that I'm doing to be towards? So I think that was a real moment where it kind of changed the trajectory of my career, and inspired me to start my first business. And I don't regret it at all, like it was a really steep learning curve to go from working in like bigger corporate companies to doing my own thing. But yeah, I think it was really speaking to my customers and seeing what gap was still in the market that really gave me the idea for Loom. So when I started partnering, or connecting my customers with the designers that I knew and seeing how excited my customers were when they receive these completely unique pieces of clothing, which were way more affordable than they thought that was really the moment when I started to think actually, this is really exciting. I don't think there's anything like this that exists out there. So if I could create this platform, that would be amazing. So that's kind of where the idea came from. It was kind of started growing over a few years until I finally thought – actually, do you know what? I think this is the super special thing that I really need to pursue.


Kareena:

And thank you so much for sharing about, you know, how your career trajectory sort of evolved, and how was a bit of a slow burn for you to decide to launch Loom. So maybe continuing on that vein of thought, what would you say is the unique value proposition that Loom possesses as a circular fashion platform that creates upcycled and bespoke clothing compared to other sustainable fashion-focused online platforms? Maybe could you tell us a little bit more about the business in terms of its main consumer segments, and its avenues of change?


Daisy:

Yeah, of course. So I think maybe a good way to answer this is to talk about what already exists out there. I think there's some really exciting businesses that have really gained traction over the last few years, and I think one of the things that they all have in common is that they're using technology to provide easier access for everyone to sustainable solutions. So as an example, there are rental apps now that maybe, you know, three or four years ago, hardly anyone would even think of using and now loads of people use those. We've got apps like Vinted and obviously Depop where you can buy pre-loved clothing. And these solutions are really gaining traction because they provide a really easy solution. And that's something I'm quite passionate about is that sometimes people talk about educating the consumer but we already know that shopping fast fashion is bad. The reason why I think that's still growing is because there aren't easy, accessible, affordable solutions out there for other ways to shop and to be more sustainable, or circular. So with Loom, it's along that vein. So we're using technology, we're using machine learning and AI to match your project with the right designers who already have similar designs that they can tweak. So it helps to keep the costs down for you as the customer. So we're really all about using that technology to make it super accessible, super easy for you, and also really fun to use. What's really our USP is that you get to redesign clothes. So there are, you know, there's companies like The Seam and SOJO where you can get clothes repaired, but you can't chat directly with the designer or the seamstress to redesign your clothes. Loom is all about that cocreation, which isn't really available anywhere else. It's also kind of upcycling marketplaces. But again, you're buying clothes that have already been created. So you don't have your own input into what that final product is going to be. So our USP is really that kind of redesign and that connection with our designers, a personal connection with them. And who are our customers and like the different segments, it's still very early days for us, but we're really fashion focused. So our mission is to divert as many things as possible from landfill. But really what our solution is, is not only about that sustainable element, but also enabling you to create your dream wardrobe. So our customers are fashion focused, and the sustainability is almost like that additional bonus, it's one of our values as a company, but also our value is to help you with yourself externally, and to kind of really give you that excitement to create something totally unique.


Kareena:

And thank you so much for sharing about the sort of core values that your company has in terms of, you know, empowering and enabling your consumers to create their own dream wardrobe, with sustainability being a factor together with that. So maybe moving on to the next question, you did mention earlier that you had previous experience working in the fashion industry in both larger and smaller companies. So what would you say are the main sort of problems in the fast fashion industry in terms of textile waste, and pollution? What are the largest problems that are sort of being generated from these brands?


Daisy:

So I think some of the biggest issues is overproduction and overconsumption, which are obviously closely linked. The problems that come with this, I've already touched on the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills. So every second a garbage truck full of clothing is either burned or dumped in landfill. So it's kind of scary how big that issue is, there's already a textile landfills in Chile that you can see from space. So the problem are at the end of the process is already huge, but it's also what happens within that supply chain as well. So if you start right at the beginning, it's a way that the fabrics are chosen and grown. So for example, with fast fashion, the cheapest fabrics are often made of plastic, so they are obviously bad for the environment, it's gonna take, you know, millions, if not hundreds of thousands of years for these plastics to break down. And then even when they break down, they turn into microplastics, which are harming animals, thats particularly in the oceans. But it's not just the environment and the animals, it's also the people within the supply chain. You know, when you're buying clothes that only cost, you know, sometimes £5 to make, and they're being made and transported across the earth. If you do the maths, you have to work out that actually, these people are getting paid next to nothing. They have horrible working conditions, and basically they're just not getting looked after. So with this idea of overproduction, it's also just a waste and what's happening to those people along the supply chain. It's kind of depressing to talk about, it's kind of bad every single stage of the process. Whereas if you we can help start to combat that and to actually produce less, it starts to release some of the strain every process. So yes, it's a difficult challenge, especially when there's such a high demand for it as well. But that’s definitely something that needs to start being tackled. And I think some of the most effective ways to do that is probably through things like legislation, but also you as a consumer have so much power. So every item that you buy is almost like a vote for what future you want, buying from fast fashion not to make you feel bad, but you have that ability to purchase things that maybe are made from organic materials or maybe you want to start shopping pre loved, or you can make these small changes that will actually have a bigger impact than you might think. 


Kareena:

Thank you so much for sharing about the fact that consumers really do have power and it is a fact that, you know, small changes do have big impact be it through but the purchasing of pre loved clothing or clothing made from organic materials. So do you think there is, you know, a sort of dichotomy between sustainably made, high quality clothing, and accessible and, you know, more affordable clothing to a consumer?


Daisy:

Yes, definitely. And I think this topic that comes up again and again, is, as customers and consumers, we can't all afford to spend hundreds of pounds on sustainable clothes, and it's definitely an issue. And, you know, as I mentioned before, we all know that we should be shopping sustainably but it is actually affordable, and can we do that? So yes, I think there is a gap between what people can afford and what they want to buy as well, because for most people if price wasn't an issue, they probably would want to buy those sustainable options. It's a big topic, but to unpick a couple of things. I think that one, going back to the idea of making it easy and more accessible through technology is super important. And that's not just through like, you know, upcycling and rental apps, of course, they actually help but also funding research into new materials that are more sustainable and new ways of manufacturing and recycling. And if we can really do that, then again, it's  one way that helps to reduce the price for the end consumer and to make those sustainable options much more affordable. I think as well, it's just a mindset shift so rather than buying, for example, multiple pieces from a really fast fashion brand, would it be better to buy less of that and maybe invest in less items, but which are of a higher quality. So I think that's also a mindset shift that we can do. Obviously, we would have to not buy a lot of fast fashion to invest hundreds, but there's always a better option than buying super fast fashion brands, where I mean, we've all done it, when we bought something, open it, and it's kind of falling apart already. And you know, you're probably gonna get one or two uses out of it before it's gonna have to kind of go in the bin. So, you know, maybe it's just making smaller changes, buying something that's a bit better quality, maybe even if it is a little bit more expensive, but you know, it's going to last longer.


Ingrid:

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on the fashion industry and how we, as consumers can, you know, change it through these small actions we take. Now, I kind of want to circle back to questions about Loom. So in the long term, how do you hope to see Loom changing the fashion industry?


Daisy:

So what I really want to do is to revolutionise how we shop. So far, when you go into a shop, or when you're shopping online, there's a real disconnect between what you're buying and who actually made it. So a lot of the time the clothes that we buy, we have no idea who made it, and also alongside that, most of the time when you buy something, you know, someone else is going to own exactly the same thing. So for example, if you're buying something for a wedding, or you know a big event that's coming up, you'll have that slight fear in the back of your mind that someone else could be wearing the same thing. So what we're really doing is pushing self expression and like your own individuality. So we're giving you a new way to shop and that you can connect with the designers directly and cocreate your clothing with them. So you know that whatever you purchase is going to be completely unique, but it's also going to fit you perfectly and be sustainable quality. And also at the end of its lifecycle when you've had enough of it, you can actually transform it into something new. So we're really helping people to give them a circular solution for their shopping. And the other kind of vision that we really want for Loom is to become the biggest community of independent designers so we're really helping to support our designers, not only grow their businesses and find new customers but also provide them a platform to help them with content creation, for them to help map their orders and their appointments. So on the one side we're helping the customers but then also our amazing community of designers too. And we really want to, the vision is huge like we want to launch in the UK this year with our app but in the future to launch in other countries and to really become a thought leader for the circular fashion space and eventually to help fund missions that I was talking about before. So really to help push these circular solutions through technology to make it more accessible for everyone.


Ingrid:

All right, thank you, I think you just present such a unique vision about how retail can be done like sustainably and with like a human touch. Right. And I really resonate with how you said that, you know, we don't usually know people making our clothes, when kind of looking at the flip side of that, like, what sort of fears and reservations did you have when you first started your company. 


Daisy:

So I think when you start a company, it's always the fear of the unknown I think. You have this idea that you think is good, I think maybe the first reservation you might have is okay, I think it's good, but is anyone else gonna think this is good? So I think always a good first step is to actually ask people and spread like, share your idea with people, get feedback on it. And especially, for example, what I did is started speaking to the designers I knew who I'd want to be on the platform kind of had cool ideas like I've got this idea. What do you think? Would it be helpful for you? What were the challenges going to be? So I think always speaking to your potential customers, and getting feedback is super helpful. And that helps give you confidence in the idea too, and to kind of negate some of those initial concerns. I think, apart from that, it's you always, if you follow founders, or you know, any founders, you always see how sometimes it's glamorised. But I think the reality is, it's a very difficult job, because you aren't reporting to anyone else, the success of the business is solely down to you, and I think that's quite daunting. Especially as a female founder, I don't know if you've heard but there are founders who get less than 2% of funding, it's quite a tough world out there. So I think it's, you kind of have these kinds of statistics in the back of your head as well. However, there's some amazing businesses founded by female founders. And I think it's just staying positive and keep staying true to your vision of what you want the business to be. And just reminding yourself of how much you've already achieved, how amazing your idea is, and just kind of keeping that progress. So that you're surrounded with other people who are going through a similar journey, so you can support each other.


Kareena:

Thank you so much for sharing about your personal experience as a female founder. I think both Ingrid and I are so inspired by the wealth of experience that you've shared with us so far, throughout this episode, you know about having to stay true to your sort of vision and the company that you really want to build. So maybe just to round up our session today, based on all of the experience that you have accumulated in the fashion industry, what would be your advice to students aiming to pursue a career in sustainability, specifically in retail, or fashion?


Daisy:

So I would say, put yourself out there, go to events, go to things that inspire you, reach out to people that you're inspired by as well and kind of ask their advice, follow their journeys, and just kind of immerse yourself in the world. Even if you don't have an idea you want to do. I think by doing that, you really get to understand, first of all, a really good understanding of what's happening in whatever market you want to work in. But you also then get inspired and then that's when you start to have ideas, you'll already be meeting those people who will be super helpful to you down the line. So yeah, I would just immerse yourself, go to those events, read, you know, just reach out to people, and always ask for advice. 


Ingrid:

Alright. Thank you Daisy, so much for giving us insight about your work and sharing your expertise about sustainable fashion. It's really been such a valuable opportunity to speak to someone with your level of experience. So unfortunately, we have come to the end of this episode, but I’m sure everyone has learned a lot from the wonderful experiences you have shared. This has been Ingrid and Kareena from The GreenHouse and we hope you visit again!


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