Interview by Marija Butkovic
With a background spanning various sectors including Real Estate, The Resource Industry and Fashion, Rosie is passionate about creating a more sustainable society by tackling the pollution associated with the fashion industry. Originally from a farming background in a small New Zealand town, Rosie lived in Asia and Australia and travelled extensively giving her insight into many successful overseas initiatives in sustainable fashion.
Rosie, how did you get into fashion tech?
I wanted to move out of the most polluting industry in the world (oil & gas) to an industry where I can make a difference, I already had a strong love of fashion so to have the opportunity to disrupt the second most polluting industry and create a better way of doing things just felt like a natural progression.
What is the idea behind your project / product and how did you come up with it? When did you start with that business, how did you start and do you have other members in your team?
After living in Australia and seeing first hand how a rental economy in fashion can benefit so many people by giving them access to an endless wardrobe, running my own rental boutique and discovering so many friends wanted me to rent out their clothing on their behalf, I decided to create a peer-to-peer marketplace which empowers other women by allowing them to monetise their wardrobe also.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
I moved to London 14 months ago to launch Our Closet, we began trading at the beginning of 2019 and have steadily grown from there.
What was the biggest obstacle?
Educating the market. Overseas car, house and fashion sharing economies are all huge. In the UK we seem to be a little slower to adopt a fashion sharing economy, with the latest press coverage on the polluting effects of the fashion industry, a movement amongst women to pick more sustainable choices in their fashion consumption has gained some real traction. With the success of companies like Rent The Runway in the US, we are starting to embrace rental fashion here also.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
Being a female founder in the fashion sector can make it hard to feel like I'm been taking seriously by men. It's often a sector they're not overly familiar with, so the challenge is to communicate the scope of the market in a way they understand and can appreciate.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Signing some fabulous new up and coming sustainable designers to the platform who are offering their beautiful pieces for rent.
What are your projects you are currently working on?
We are currently working on some strategic collaborations and raising a round of seed funding.
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
Yes it absolutely is. I think it's an industry where women thrive and meeting so many women absolutely killing it in the industry is so inspiring.
What will be the key trends in the fashion tech and wearable tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
Of course I see sharing/rental economies completely disrupting the traditional e-commerce retailers, I think the big movement in wearable tech is in the creation of sustainable fabrics which is really exciting. I think the next 5 years will overall show a shift toward the fashion industry becoming more sustainable overall.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs out there?
Surround yourself with a bunch of inspiring and supportive people. When you feel like giving up, don't! This sets you ahead of the rest.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in fashion tech and / or wearable tech?
Three of my favourites would have to include Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss from Rent The Runway - the rental revolution pioneers! Dr Carmen Hijosa, founder of Piñatex® which is one of the many sustainable fabrics making waves in the fashion design world.
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic.