Earlier this year we hosted the Getting into Glossy dinner, with Sarah Jossel from Glamour magazine, where we had the pleasure of meeting Diana Lee. We caught up with Diana recently, who is the Head of Digital Strategy & Communications at Clotho London, and she talked to us about her company, and how they are revolutionising the way we view sustainability, even in our wardrobes!
What’s the elevator pitch for Clotho?
Every day we are told what to buy, what to wear, and simply, to keep buying new clothing items. We are deeply entrenched a digital lifestyle, one that focuses on immediacy; constantly refreshing and checking your social newsfeeds every hour.
Being bombarded by all these shiny, beautiful things puts a real strain on our wallets, and more importantly, on the world around us. This lifestyle translates into the way we shop; fast fashion is as “mainstream” as it gets. Almost completely divergent from this is slow fashion, the ethical fashion community, and the two rarely mix.
Clotho aims to bridge this gap by providing a sustainable, alternative method of frequent shopping. We want to say,
Yes, sustainability can be stylish and fun, and it’s something you can do right now with these baby steps. It is possible to consciously lower your carbon footprint and stay beautifully glamorous.
We run mainly on an incentive system, where women exchange their clothes for huge discounts on carefully curated vintage and second-hand clothing. The shop is refreshed every Sunday at 9pm, and we are now open to everyone, regardless of whether they take part in the exchange. #ClothoRefreshSunday!
All information on how to take part is on our website.
What were you doing before you joined the startup?
I met the Clotho co-founders, Vivien and Caroline, through the EF/CodeFirst: Girls network – where I teach coding to other young women in university and fresh graduates. They were about 2-3 months into the Entrepreneur First programme and looking to grow their community, starting with university students.
I’m still at UCL, studying mathematics, and am incredibly interested in tech with some background in digital marketing. I’m also a member of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and spent a summer training in Acting in LA, at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, prior to pursuing maths at university. If it wasn’t for tech, maths and UCL, I would have applied for drama school.
Having this artistic background and an analytical mindset has proven essential when thinking about growth and digital strategy, which is my favourite part of startup life.
What’s your favourite thing about working with Clotho?
Vivien and Caroline are incredibly lovely to work with, and you always have fun when you’re working with them.
They met as lab partners, graduating with MEng Chemistry degrees together from Imperial, and are now best friends. They’re incredibly well-grounded, ambitious yet humble, and have a much better sense of humour than I do – which is always lovely. They’ve also managed to create a startup which has evolved out of their own friendship, with a story that many young women can easily relate to.
All of this makes it really easy to get things done and to experiment with crazy new ideas. People also get really involved with watching Clotho grow, so they started and still maintain a blog about their startup life – I love it.
What will the rest of 2015 bring?
Here’s essentially what our co-founder Vivien’s response was in a recent interview with Sustainable Bridges:
In response to demand, we have expanded the Clotho shop so customers will be able to buy directly from our store, without the need for credit. Previously, our shop is based on an incentive system- customers who donate clothes receive credit and that credit allows them to shop in the Clotho store. So we are hoping to continue to expand our store so everyone can buy from Clotho, regardless of if they have donated clothes or not (however it would obviously be favourable if customers were to still donate!).
Ultimately, we would love it if everyone was buying clothes in a sustainable way; our goal is to make a difference- there is no doubt that the current state of the clothing industry is unsustainable, therefore, our aim as a business is to be the destination for sustainable fashion.
One piece of advice for someone starting a business in your sector?
Know your target market, and keep getting to know your potential customers. We’re all in sales – Daniel Pink’s book ‘To Sell is Human’ is a must read. By this I mean, you need to talk to at least one or two customers every day; Keep the feedback loop strong.
Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.
Why don’t we use some pictures instead? Check out our Instagram profile and clotholove tag, or watch our Fashion Hackathon video.
What’s your favourite startup in your sector (not including your own)?
Knyttan (https://twitter.com/knyttan) – revolutionary stuff.
What’s your favourite London restaurant?
This is such a tough question because what I love about London is the ability to go to a brilliant restaurant that serves the type of cuisine I’m in the mood for. That being said, I’ll never get sick of the Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor Café – not exactly a restaurant, but it’s my favourite F&B spot in town.
What’s your favourite meal?
Chirashi Sushi, Green tea ice cream, Genmaicha tea – and with Tamari Sauce on the side because I’m wheat-intolerant.
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