#05: Web Summit 2022: Interview with Lubomila Jordanova, CEO and Co-founder of Plan A. Written by Keyvan Thomsen Bamdej December 22,
Streamlining the sustainable living & circular fashion.
On behalf of TechBBQ, I met with Hasna Kourda, CEO & Founder of Save Your Wardrobe to talk about how she found a hole in the market, about the concept of circular fashion, its recently secured seed funding, and her future plans for the wardrobe platform.
Hasna Kourda founded the British-based Save Your Wardrobe app with the hope of making consumers more aware of their after-purchase behavior. The inspiration for the app came from Kourda's upbringing in Tunisia, North Africa, where sustainable practices like reusing, caring, and repurposing garments were common approaches. She was inspired to create a solution to encourage consumers to make better decisions when it came to their wardrobes.
Save Your Wardrobe also uses AI, allowing garments to be easily scanned, identified, and stored in users’ virtual wardrobes. This makes it easy to curate outfits, prevent cluttering your wardrobe with duplicate items, and share personal style inspirations with fellow circular fashionistas.
Interview with Hasna Kourda, CEO & Founder of Save Your Wardrobe
Q&A with Hasna Kourda
»Tell us about your background and why sustainability is important to you?«
»I was born and raised in Tunisia where I learned the importance of a circular and sustainable approach to lifestyle. You have to imagine me growing up in a very circular way with a family that would make everything out of available resources and also driven by the fact that in my country climate change is real. So, when I moved to Europe to finish my studies, it struck me that there was this throw-away culture, where everything was worn for months for a specific purpose and then discarded. There was this constant race to wear something new.«
»What inspired you to start Save Your Wardrobe?«
»After I finished my studies in Paris, I moved to London where I saw a problem at a larger scale. I realized how fast fashion was getting more traction and more visibility on the high street. So, I decided to see what would be the best way to help people in their day-to-day life to take control back of their consumption behavior and be less absorbent of all of this new stuff. That’s where I thought that there was an opportunity for technology that would help people streamline their access to circular initiatives, which is lacking at the moment.«
»Talking about throw-away-culture, can you tell us more about the problem in the market and how are you trying to solve it?«
»The fashion industry is pretty much based on the linear business model of a buy and then discard or even put on second-hand or rental spaces as well. With the lack of a circular approach to lifestyle, there was a need for a concept that can replace that fast-paced consumption and focus more on caring, repairing, and reconnecting yourself to what you have in your wardrobe.
I decided to take all the values I grew up with and install them into technology. Save Your Wardrobe is a platform that helps day-to-day consumers access care and repair but also brands take responsibility for the products they launch in the market.«
»How do you see the future of circular fashion progressing?«
»From the consumers' point of view, we were really able to see that people were eager to adopt solutions like that, especially during the pandemic with people being locked at home. In a matter of a week, we grew our customer base exponentially, just organically without doing any marketing. We wanted to launch very quietly when we got spotted by Apple’s editorial team that published it on the “today page” as one of the greatest apps to download. With all of that said, we can see that people are moving towards this revolution, they just need a tech tool that helps them achieve their sustainability goals.
Currently, there is an abundance of such tools to support the change from technological breakthroughs and infrastructural advances to shifting consumer preferences. So, I’m hoping we’ll see these advances integrated into business models across the fashion industry.«
»What are your plans for the £2.52 million ($3 million) in seed funding that you secured in 2022?«
»We had a pre-seed round just before to get the app rolling and growing. But this seed also helped us expand in Germany, and sign deals with Zalando and Hugo Boss. In partnership with Zalando, we help them from the digital booking to the service providers and the back-end technology as well as tapping into the circular initiatives for care and repair.
Our focus also goes on the local family own providers that are usually left out of the digital transformation. They were one of the first hit by the pandemic and are one of the unsecured of the crucial fashion. We are enabling them not only to be digitally savvy but also to be part of the movement and get traction and the scale.«
»Can you tell us about your upcoming endeavors?«
»We have many companies based in Germany that are looking to leverage our network of aftercare. This is something that we are very passionate about because the project we launched with Zalando took us three months. We were super fast. From the moment we decided to go for this usercase to the moment of delivery. It tells how partnerships between startups and corporations can happen. Startups have the agility and capacity to roll out super quickly, while corporations can bring big scale and big impact. And that’s really a match made in heaven, where we would like to focus going forward and help other retailers jump on this opportunity as well.«
»From the female founder’s perspective, what challenges in the market have you been facing?«
»Only 1.7% of the female founders received funding from venture capital in Europe from 2016 to 2020. That being said, my experience has been only reflective of that. When I first started pitching the idea of sustainability back in 2017 or 2018, I was faced with problems such as this being a female problem, which is not something that the fashion industry needs. The fashion industry is great as it is, they said, without looking at it from a problem that is global with global ramifications.
So, coming from Tunisia and the amount of textiles that we receive has an impact on our environment. This is one of the many countries in Africa that are facing climate problems due to the fashion industry.
I slowly started to build the financial part of it and put the stability aside as if I was plotting to save the world. But it was challenging in a male space to be there and advocate for a slower movement. Thankfully in 2019, we received funding from a fashion platform Farfetch through its Dream Assembly program. That really opened the door to female voices and to advocate for better consumption of products made by women for women. And that men can for sure adopt as well.«
»What would be your advice for female founders that are trying to raise money?«
»I would say resilience. Often there is a need to give us a stamp of approval for whatever we are building. This could clatter some women’s leadership mindset and there are many of them. It feels that, especially at an early stage, any kind of advice or guidance should be taken without realizing that sometimes people just look at the negative part. I would strongly suggest sticking to the mission, vision, and the way it is executed. We see things from a different perspective and this is one of the ways. It is the power that we have. We need to invest more and see the world from a different angle, which is really needed across all industries.«
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