Hi Jade, I'm super excited to talk with you! Let's get to know you and start off with some quick-fire questions.
If you weren't in fashion, you'd be… In politics... but thankfully, I am not.
Career role model is… AOC - Alexandria Ocasio Cortez! She is fierce, stands her ground and is eloquent whilst doing so.
The best advice you ever received is… we always say at LOANHOOD, that it's a marathon, not a sprint. Especially when the task ahead of you is no small feat, such as trying to help make the fashion industry more sustainable.
You feel most inspired and creative when… I am rested! I love my sleep and try to make sure I don't work through the night.
Your favourite app is… LOANHOOD (can I say that?!)
The last piece you rented… a vintage shirt and skirt set from Heidi Jones. Heidi is herself a sustainable advocate
The fashion item you couldn't live without is… my gold hoops! I always forget/can't be bothered to put makeup on, but I never forget my earrings.
In 5 years, you'll be… investing in other startups looking to make a positive change in the world. We know how hard it is, so I would love to be in the position to help other startup. Obviously, rental would be the new norm by that point, & LOANHOOD the go-to app :)
We're excited to hear more about LOANHOOD. Let's start at the beginning: how did your sustainability journey begin?
I was a fashion model for 10 years before attending the Fashion Futures course at the London College of Fashion (LCF). I travelled around the world working for fast fashion brands as I started modelling when e-commerce was just starting. I was one of the ASOS girls, so I had a nice living. I can't say that I didn't benefit from it, but the more I was modelling, the more I saw the shift in the industry from a unique perspective.
I just kept learning more and more about how unsustainable fashion was and how I played a part in that. I wanted to put my feelings about this to use in a way that could sit with me morally and align with my values. The LCF's Fashion Futures course dissected the fashion industry. It looked at what was going wrong and how we could improve with innovation, new business models and technology. That's where Loanhood stemmed from. That started my love for how we can take fashion into the future to benefit the consumer.
How did Loanhood start, and what are the issues you aim to solve with the platform?
It started with my realisation that humans aren't changing behaviour quick enough for what we need to combat climate change. For example, we have such inherent shopping habits that you can't go and tell somebody they're not allowed to shop for fashion. It's embedded into our self-expression, and fashion is really important for us as individuals. Sustainable fashion is generally more expensive, so we wanted to create a business model that offered that fashion fix but also helps to fix fashion. Rental is a great way to slow down and get things on a positive path. It's not a new concept, I could see it happening in fashion, but the masses hadn't adopted it. That's why we put all our eggs in the rental basket, and we think this is the moment for it now.
We want to make rental mainstream, accessible and affordable. We have been working on this idea since 2018. Even though we weren't the first to the table, rental is still quite expensive; and you still need to have disposable income to rent an outfit.
Can you tell us how you've been building a community through Loanhood?
Community comes first for us. There is no point in us creating an app if we don't have a community. As soon as you step into the world of sustainability, you attract like-minded people, which is brilliant to help us grow, but we also want to break down walls. We don't want to sit in our echo chamber and talk to the same like-minded people. So how do we get it out to the masses? As our community grows, we incentivise them along the way, try to be as honest as we can be, and they help us test the app to ensure it's what they want.
How have you seen the rental market evolve since 2018, and what are your hopes for the future of fashion rental?
It's grown, and the rental companies that started pre-pandemic are still growing because it shows the market wants it. However, rental is still at quite a high price point; it targets a specific customer and is still very occasion led. We hope that rental will become a choice alongside buying something new, or you'd think about renting instead of buying new. We're hoping to open that up beyond weddings, proms, and those sorts of occasions. We want to find ways to bring rental into the daily market, and this is the gap Loanhood aims to fill.
Our focus on young emerging designers gives us the chance to produce smaller collections, experiment with their style, and test it on the market through rental. Hopefully, the rental market will shift and different people and designers will find other use cases for it; from renting their samples to their new collections to renting out a statement piece they don't want to sell.
What are your plans for Loanhood in the next few years?
We launched our app in July 2022, but before that, we had a closed community of about 1000 users who tested it for us and gave us amazing feedback. Now, it's open to everybody, and we're seeing a rise in emerging designers with their collections. Next, we'll be doing a crowdfunding campaign for shares, so it'll be the community investing in the community. It will be nice to offer a part of the company to those who helped us along the way.
This is the moment for rental; after the pandemic, people want to be more cost-effective, to go out, and still love fashion. So many ingredients are making this the right time for rental, and we're making sure we don't miss the train.