Sarah created a business model to make buying and selling pre-loved kids designer fashion convenient.
What’s your story?
I spent ten years working in a corporate luxury fashion where I was witness to an uninspiring, unsustainable pace and appetite across the industry. Eventually, I had my first child, and I knew then that something had changed. I felt I needed to channel my experience and energy into something more positive with more substance, so I created a business model designed to recirculate product with a desire to positively impact families, the community and our environment. Kids outgrow an average of 1700 items of clothing before they are full-grown. I felt it was time to develop a conscious mindset in consumerism by extending the lifespan of clothing.
What excites you most about your industry?
At the moment the industry is shifting with incredible momentum. It is fascinating to watch the interest and innovation escalate in the sustainability-sphere, being able to be a part of this significant change is hands down the most exciting time I have spent in the fashion industry. So many other industries are also feeling a similar mood with the introduction of companies like Airbnb and Uber, both encouraging less ownership showing that rental and resale does belong in the market with a strong foothold in the consumer’s mind and behaviour. I believe that the only way sustainability can continue to influence and take hold of the industry, is if the consumer continues to demand change by voting through their purchases, the most unambiguous indication of what they want and expect from the industry. Our following generations care so much more about their impact which is so encouragingly positive for all of us and the future of our planet.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I relocated to Hong Kong from Toronto twelve years ago. With a few fashion contacts in hand and having packed my life into three suitcases, I planned to begin a new chapter. The luxury industry was exploding in China at the time, and I felt it was essential to move closer if I wanted a part of the action. Since those earlier days, I now have two beautiful kids here with my husband, and so it has become our home.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong, of course, gets my vote! I feel Hong Kong is a nurturing environment for a business like Retykle. The start-up community here is dynamic and supportive, accessible and collaborative and it makes the city a unique experience for business ventures. If people believe in your concept and ideas, they want you to succeed.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Courage requires vulnerability.
Who inspires you?
Women who stand for something inspire me. Trailblazers, forging their own path in building businesses. Natalie Massenet and Sarah Blakely come to mind.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Food-waste can be used to create textiles. There is an enormous amount of research and development in progress in this field. Innovative experimental new textiles are discovered all the time through a creative ability to think laterally and find such unlikely and intelligent solutions to huge problems. Innovative end-uses developed from food waste designed into brand new products is an excellent example of science, creativity, engineering and sustainability working together.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have sought out working for a start-up before starting my own as I think there could have been some valuable lessons to apply to this chapter which were not part of my corporate schooling.
How do you unwind?
Exercise, meditation and reading to my kids.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. We were married there and continue to return regularly to explore different areas.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Shameless plug for your business:
Retykle is an online platform for buying and selling pre-loved kids designer fashion. Born from the urgent need for solutions in the fashion industry, Retykle was created to offer an intelligent solution to parents by tackling the compulsive thirst for newness and simultaneously addressing the unavoidable rotation of clothing that occurs for every Tyke in their wardrobe. We wanted to create an easy solution, rewarding parents for making high-quality purchase decisions by keeping those items in circulation and away from landfill and changing the concept and experience of shopping second hand to feel as good, if not better, than buying new.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.