It all started with a charity shop off London’s Portobello Road and the perfect pinstripe suit. Well, almost perfect. “I really liked it, but it didn’t fit me. So I came up with the idea of ​​an app,” explains Josephine Phillips, founder of Sojo, a startup that wants to bring tailoring “to the modern age.”

nickname “Supplier of fashion repairs”, Sojo was launched in January 2021 and connects users with nearby tailors, facilitating the collection and return of clothes through a network of couriers. Independent seamstresses sign up to the app and set their own price for their work, from darning holes to resizing, with Sojo taking a 30 percent fee. The same striped suit became one of the first orders of the program.

“I went to a tailor and it was so archaic, it was very backward,” Phillips says. “This is not a normal activity and we want to make it normal. We want every young person to repair and rebuild.” This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that two-thirds of the mending clothes are thrown away.

Eighteen months after launching, Sojo is a different beast, having just secured a new $2.4 million round of funding, a partnership with Scandinavian fashion brand Ganni, and hiring that is set to reach 16 employees. It was also a seismic shift for Philips. The 24-year-old started working at Sojo full-time straight out of university – her only previous jobs were as a waitress and summer intern at second-hand marketplace Depop.

For the first few months, Sojo was a one-woman show, powered largely by a mixture of overtime and a youthful desire to change the “culture of waste” and “exploitation” that defined the fast fashion industry, from which Philips built its initial, limited-edition chicken chain. ers and tailors.

“Being young meant that I saw how the system worked and thought, ‘I can really change this’… Having that vision was definitely a superpower,” Phillips says. “But a lot was happening. Having never done anything like this before, it meant I was learning and doing at the same time.”

As a black female founder, Philips finds itself in an industry that only has female-led startups 2.8 percent of VC funding. in fact, according to one reportbetween 2009 and 2019, only one black female founder in the UK raised Series A funding.

“Everybody knows what the venture capital space is like for underrepresented founders… The numbers speak for themselves,” says Phillips, explaining that she routinely got rejected by investors only to see white male colleagues pitch little more than “PowerPoint”. and “getting millions at once.”

Eventually, Sojo was able to find backers, initially through an angel round with a host of high-profile investors, including Depop founder Simon Beckerman. The latest Series A round was led by female-led venture capital firm CapitalT.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/startup-tailoring-sojo

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