Sophie Slater on an Activist’s Wardrobe

Sophie Slater founded ethical clothing brand Birdsong, along with co-founder Sarah Beckett, just over three years ago, after identifying a way to help the women’s organisations she saw struggling for funding. To hear the full story of how Birdsong was realised, please listen to the Clothes & The Rest podcast here.

However, long before starting her own brand, Sophie developed her expertise in sustainable and ethical dressing. As a teenager, she became a charity shop aficionado, and now, she is a self-confessed “nerd” when it comes to researching sustainable brands!

Following on from Sophie’s podcast episode, I asked Sophie for her advice on how we can bring the contents of our wardrobe more inline with our ethics:

“It totally depends on how much time and mental energy you have to spend, so if you have none, I would recommend going shopping on Birdsong of course!

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“Even if you haven’t got a lot of time to research, fundamentally, it’s all about your mindset. If you’re itching to buy something, ask yourself three questions… Do I need it? Will it suit what I have already? Can I wear it 30 times? If the answer is yes to all of those, sleep on it.

“I think saving up for something that is a bit more expensive, but is going to last longer makes you value your clothes so much more. Fast fashion is manufactured to fall apart in the wash after a couple of wears.

“If I’ve got a real craving for something from the catwalk, or on trend, I’ll try my best to look in charity shops and replicate it that way.

“It’s really important to repair what you have. We’re just about to partner with a fantastic initiative called Clothes Doctor. You send your clothes off, they fix it for you, and you get it back! We’ll be offering that as part of our service on our website, and hopefully in time for our Christmas shop.”

If you want to browse the Birdsong collection, please go over to their website.

 

Maria Chenoweth’s Charity Shopping Tips

Sitting directly above a North London branch of TRAID’s successful chain of charity shops, Maria Chenoweth’s office is homely – in a once abandoned residential flat brought back to life by the creative team behind the charity. The TRAID working space is unusual in many ways. It’s not just Maria’s attitude towards her role as CEO that makes the TRAID office different (when I arrived, she was in the middle of a tea run for her staff), just like elsewhere in her life, everything in Maria’s office is sourced entirely second hand.

After first falling in love with second hand shopping at jumble sales as a frustrated suburban teenager, shopping pre-loved quickly became a lifestyle choice for Maria. If you want to hear Maria’s journey into the charity shop world, click here to listen Maria’s episode of the Clothes & The Rest podcast. However, for this follow-up blogpost, I asked Maria for her advice on how we can best use charity shops to our advantage (and the environment’s)…


Firstly, location, location, location. “I only go to certain shops for my crockery and all my homeware. I know what shop offers the best goods because of the demographic of the area. If you know the demographic of the location, you can certainly guess what the donations are in the shops.”

Her top tip for hunting out the best clothes is to measure the waist line via your neck. “If a garment goes round your neck, it will go round your waist. If a garment doesn’t go round your neck, don’t take it to the changing room.” If you’re having trouble visualising this, don’t worry – check out this video to see how its done.

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When it comes to donating to charity shops, Maria is clear that as long as it’s wearable, it’s worth donating. “If you feel somebody would buy it for £1, donate it to TRAID.” Excellent advice, and with TRAID’s collection scheme (which allows you to book a van to collect donations straight from your doorstep), there’s no excuse not to rise to the challenge of their 23% campaign and donate those unworn clothes lurking at the back of your wardrobe. Who says you have to wait ’til spring for a clear out?

If you liked Maria’s tips, and want to hear more of her story, click here to listen to her episode of the Clothes & The Rest Podcast.

https://traid.org.uk

#1: Zoe Partridge | Founder of Wear the Walk

In this episode, Zoe Partridge, founder and CEO of sustainable fashion rental company Wear the Walk, joins me for a fascinating chat about building a business, young talent and how we can all dress more sustainably. I hope you enjoy!

Links from the episode:

Clothes and The Rest blogpost with Zoe Partridge

Wear the Walk

Wear the Walk on Instagram

Links to Clothes and The Rest:

Website

Instagram

Email

Music: All Comes Together by Handbook

Thanks for listening!

Zoe Partridge on Building a Business

Having grown her idea from concept to company in just over two years, Zoe Partridge, founder of sustainable fashion rental service Wear the Walk, is the perfect person to share her business advice…

“My number one tip is fail, and fail fast. If things aren’t working, it’s fine to see it as a failure, and to try an alternative route.

“Build a great team. Surround yourself with people who are as invested as you are in the company. I you’re in a position to hire then do, and make sure they’re passionate about the future of your business. I appreciate at the beginning it can be quite hard when you’ve got no money, but hire some junior girls, or hire some interns, and really excite them, because it’ll be too exhausting for you to do everything on your own, which I learnt a fair few times. Have people there who can provide a really good working support system. It’s so important not to burn out.

 

 

“My last piece of advice is to have fun! I think it’s important to recognise that business isn’t everything – something I learnt very quickly. I almost let my social life and my personal life suffer, because I though business was the be all and end all, and it’s very easy to get lost in that in the beginning when you’re obsessed with it. Now, I’m still obsessed with my business, but I’ve learnt to balance my personal life and social life with work. People talk about the idea that you have three glass balls, and you can only hold onto two, so one will always drop. I think that’s true in some respects, but work out which ones are the most important to you. For the majority of people, business shouldn’t be the most important one.”

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This post follows my interview with Zoe Partridge on the Clothes & The Rest podcast – please go over and listen on iTunes or Acast to hear the full story.