Do you know A Gig Profit Comes to My Outfit With On-Demand Styling? A gorgeous pinstripe suit and a charity shop off London’s Portobello Road were the beginnings of the story. Okay, close to perfect. “I absolutely adored it, but I couldn’t wear it. According to Josephine Philips, the creator of Sojo, a firm that aims to “bring tailoring into the digital age,” “therefore I had the idea for establishing an app.”
Sojo, dubbed “the Deliveroo of fashion repairs,” was introduced in January 2021. It connects users with local seamstresses and makes use of a network of couriers to make it easier for users to pick up and return their clothing. Independent seamstresses may sign up for the app and set their own rates for services like mending holes and resizing clothing, with Sojo getting a 30 percent commission. One of the initial images on the app was true of the exact pinstripe suit.
Outfit With On-Demand Styling
According to Philips, “I’ve been to a tailor, and everything was so antiquated, it was really backward.” “We want to make it a common activity, but it’s not currently. Every young person should be involved in maintenance and improvement work. The fact that two-thirds of fixable clothing is thrown away makes the problem much worse.
After 18 months of operation, Sojo has evolved into a completely new creature thanks to a $2.4 million fundraising round, a relationship with the Scandinavian clothing company Ganni, and a hiring drive that should bring the company’s total personnel to 16. Philips has also experienced a seismic shift. The 24-year-old began working at Sojo full-time immediately after graduating from college; her only prior employment was as a waitress and as a waitress.
Philips built up her first, constrained network of couriers and seamstresses during those early months as a one-woman show for Sojo, fueled mostly by a combination of overtime and youthful desire to eliminate the “culture of waste” and “exploitation” that defines the fast fashion industry.
Because of my youth, I realized how the system operated and realized that I could actually change it. That mindset was unquestionably a superpower, claims Philips. “But a lot was happening. I was learning as I went because I had never done something like this before.
Being a Black female founder put Philips in a field where only 2.8 percent of venture capital investment goes to female-led firms. In fact, one research claims that only one Black female entrepreneur in the UK received any Series A funding at all between 2009 and 2019.
“Everyone is aware of how beneficial venture money is for founders who are underrepresented… The statistics speak for themselves,” Philips claims, saying that while she would frequently encounter investor rejection, white male colleagues would make pitches using little more than “a PowerPoint” and “receive millions off the bat.”
In the end, Sojo was successful in obtaining funding, first through an angel round with a number of well-known investors, including Simon Beckerman, the inventor of Depop. The latest Series A round was led by female-directed VC firm CapitalT.
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Additionally, external finance has led to a shift in emphasis—a more realistic but still powerful version of Philips’ goal. As opposed to its direct-to-consumer operations, Sojo is concentrating more on business-to-business relationships, striking agreements with significant fashion labels like Ganni (along with seven more collaborations in the works) to provide changes for its thousands of consumers. These discounts will make it simple for customers to ask Sojo’s seamstresses for clothes repairs and changes, which will kindly help change how people perceive tailoring.
According to Philips, “I understood that by changing our business model to partnering with brands, we’d actually be able to attain scale and make an impact a lot faster.” “One of our investors said you can either spend £10 million trying to acquire 10 million direct customers over a period of 10 years. Or you can have one B2B partner and you access 10 million customers overnight.”
Philips is also in the midst of hiring internal seamstresses while outsourcing Sojo’s courier network. She has even considered growing Sojo to include its own “dark kitchen” analogs; a network of commercial seamstress workshops that would give it the capacity to handle thousands of local alterations at once.
At a time when fast fashion is under scrutiny for its effects on the environment, Philips is hoping that Sojo will alter consumer perceptions about clothes. In the end, she claims, “We live in a culture of hyper-disposability.” Clothing has never been seen as valuable.