This Startup is Truly "Evolving" the Sustainable Fashion Market
Today’s featured interview is a first for Global Garbs.
Usually, we feature emerging designers who are on a mission to create something new, create it in a way that’s more sustainable or ethical, and ultimately grow a product creation company.
Unlike other interviews, Liz Funk, the co-founder of And We Evolve is creating a new type of shopping experience: all from second-hand clothing.
Yup, you heard that right.
She’s actually collecting and curating second-hand clothing to create a new type of shopping experience for those who are looking for higher quality pieces that are inherently sustainable.
When I asked Liz about how the idea came about, her answer was quite descriptive and I could almost picture her discovering her new love for thrift shopping as she was telling the story...
“I went to college in NYC and fell in love with thrifting. I loved going into weird funky, musty thrift stores in the east village and alphabet city. I bought a black tube top dress and it was $2. I loved it to death and wore it into the ground. I sort of had this idea [for And We Evolve) around that time when I was about twenty-five. I didn’t want to wear fast fashion but I couldn’t afford nice sustainable brands either.”
Another moment that was somewhat life-changing for Liz was reading the book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline. After learning about true sustainability and facts like polyester is made from plastic which is why it’s simply non-biodegradable.
Another factor that she felt many people were unaware of was that there’s this whole mentality that it’s perfectly OK to shop fast fashion because you can always donate it to those who are needy at places like the Goodwill. When in actuality, a very small percentage of clothing donated actually gets sold to people who are in need.
“By purchasing with And We Evolve, you’re helping to keep beautiful clothes and accessories from ending up in our landfills or sold in offshore markets (which is where many unsold thrift store donations end up), and begins to curb the negative impact of fast fashion.”
As I further discussed And We Evolve’s business model and how they are wanting to scale, I realized that her company is actually the most sustainable company I’ve interviewed thus far.
The way it works is simple. You can sign up for either a subscription box which is curated to the styles you like by filling out a simple style questionnaire, or you can also sign up for a membership which entitles you to essentially rent items for a bargain.
“Think of it like Letote meets Rent the Runway” says Liz.
You can also book an appointment and shop in their physical showroom.
“People that have memberships can come in on Saturday and swap stuff out. We do private shopping by appointment. I had a woman come in who was four months pregnant - it was so fun to pick out dresses with her and make up her mind about whether or not she should show her bump or hide it."
As we dove into talking more about the day-to-day of the business, and Liz’s background, I learned that she was a marketing and PR strategist prior to leaving her job to pursue the business full-time, while her co-founder Alisha Ebling is a writer and photographer with a background in nonprofit fundraising.
The universe obviously had a plan for them to meet, as the duo met during an IT class in Philadelphia for women called Girl Develop, and came to discover they both had wanted to start a second hand clothing company.
With the way younger generations of shoppers are evolving within their shopping habits, Liz thinks they are onto something great.
“Second hand fashion is poised to eclipse fast fashion, with the shift that Millenials and Gen Z are shopping differently. They are looking for higher quality pieces, which are inherently sustainable, because we aren’t fueling this engine of clothing production and it’s respectful."
She even mentions a few of her interns (ages 20-ish), who speak of moving to LA, living in airstreams and just living a more sustainable lifestyle.
As always, we also discussed the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur.
"Being able to manage your emotions and know in your gut that this is going to work out. Otherwise I wouldn’t do it.
Our biggest win has been seeing the subscription boxes take off. It’s been thrilling to get style surveys in the middle of the night. It’s a strong indication that it’s going to work."
And We Evolve's business model is by far one of the most sustainable companies I've interviewed. It’s the ultimate way to shop sustainably, plus they’re already doing all the heavy lifting by finding the best pieces of high quality pre-loved garments so you don’t have to! Win-win in our book.