• Josephine Philips

The Start of Sojo

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

How the idea for the ‘Deliveroo’ of clothing alterations and repairs came about.

Photographer: Daphne Milner

Hello lovely readers and welcome to Sojo!

I thought it would only be fitting to start our first blog post by explaining the story of how the idea for Sojo first came about. Before I get into it, I want to thank you for reading this piece and also want to introduce myself - my name is Josephine and I am the Founder of Sojo.

I always find it interesting to think about what small events, meetings and chance conversations lead you to a certain point in your life. How did I get here - trying to get a sustainable fashion start-up off the ground?

Looking back I think, the first domino in the trail that led to Sojo was starting to connect wholeheartedly to my feminism in my late teens. This connection changed a lot of things in my life. It changed many opinions I held on certain topics, my behaviour, the friends I surrounded myself with, the books I read, my relationships with others and most importantly my relationship with myself. I would go as far as to say it was a wonderous enlightenment.

Amongst all these shifts one relevant and particularly big change was my move away from fast-fashion. I came to the realisation that fast-fashion was a system that oppressed, underpaid and exploited garment workers in order to function and thrive. It is no coincidence that around 80% of garment workers are women. Women of colour were (and still are) the ones on the receiving end of this capitalist exploitation. For me, it seemed that if I believed in gender-equality and the fair treatment of women, then I could no longer support an industry that had built its foundations and profits off the back of the unethical mistreatment of them.

And so, my journey away from the highstreet chains began and I was slowly led into the arms of second-hand shopping. In doing so, my eyes were opened to the entire sustainable fashion movement and the realisation of the environmental impact of the fashion industry. I was shocked. I began buying, wearing and selling second-hand clothes all the time, trying to make a small individual impact.

But with every story that seems to be going well, there’s the ‘downfall.’ For me, it was a constant frustration that nearly everytime I was secondhand shopping, whether that was in charity shops, on Depop, at kilo sales, at markets, or in thrift stores - I would find items I loved but that weren’t my size.

I mean when you think about it, what are the chances that you’ll walk into a second-hand store and find a pair of trousers you love and then those trousers will have your exact waist, hip, bum, thigh and length measurements?

I often bought them anyway, planning on wearing them with a belt or even rolling them up - but this isn’t the way one should be wearing clothes. Second-hand shouldn’t mean a compromise in great fitting clothes that make you feel really good.

However, despite this frustration and a pile of clothes that needed things done to them, I didn’t learn to sew and never went to a Seamster to get them altered or repaired. This was because doing so would just take up too much time and effort ( I’m of the generation that is used to a whole host of services literally being at our fingertips).

So, I decided to do just that. With a Deliveroo-like model as the basis, I wanted to create an app and pick-up/delivery service that connected customers to local Seamster businesses, so that people could get their clothes altered or repaired with a few simple clicks.

Ultimately, this would mean less sizing restrictions for second-hand shoppers and a really effortless way for people to repair their clothes. Hopefully increasing the amount of second-hand shopping people could do and equally reducing the amounts of broken clothes going to landfill as they could easily be made good-as-knew.

Ten months, an award for my idea, fifty entrepreneur events, a complete Physics degree and a hundred sleepless (and excited) nights later - we’re a few weeks away from launching the business and I couldn’t be more excited about the journey ahead.

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