Why Rent Return Repeat?
2021 did not start in the way I was expecting — in lockdown, schools shut again, not being able to see my friends… I could almost feel the walls of my house closing in on me.
On the bright side, 2020 has allowed me to slow down and to tick off a few items on my long overdue to do list. One of them was to declutter my home. After all, during lockdown, any activity was considered fun!
Bye bye old electronics — who really needs three laptops, one of which almost ten years old! Out to the charity shop went piles of untouched books which, if I was truly honest with myself, I would never actually get around to reading, keeping only those that I truly wanted to keep in my life.
And then there was baby stuff. I mean A LOT of baby stuff — baby clothes, baby accessories, baby furniture, baby toys….
So much stuff accumulated over the last three years and which now became a waste of space, often after just a few months of use.
Surely there must be a better way of getting what I need for my child, without getting to this over-consumerist, wasteful stage.
Judging by the number of articles and general interest in this topic around me, it seems that I am not the only one reflecting on how I can consume better. Similar changes are happening in the startup ecosystem where many companies have been thriving by making circular economy more attractive and easier to adopt.
At Voulez Capital, this is one of the key areas that we are interested in — companies addressing real challenges of sustainability, zero waste, replacement of plastics, and of circular economy; companies that create a convergence between the digital shift and the circular shift!
Yes, I know — it is ironic that, as a VC, we like companies that help us to buy less. But the world of post 1950s consumerism is simply not sustainable and not healthy. And there is a lot of value being created by companies that help us re-balance away from mindless consumerism and towards more mindful consumption of what we really need.
What is the problem?
Amid the shock and uncertainty that the fashion sector is facing during the COVID-19 crisis, there is a silver lining for the environment: two-thirds of surveyed consumers by a McKinsey study said that, to them, it has become even more important to limit impacts on climate change when buying a product or choosing a brand.
Last year, Vestiaire Collective raised $64.2 million for its second hand fashion platform. With 9 million members across 90 countries, this is a huge market place. But could we actually go even further? What if we could remove the whole owning model and start renting clothes for everyday life? Especially during those first couple of years of our children’s lives, when they grow out of things in, what seems like, days. Or during maternity, when our bodies change so quickly but we still want to look beautiful and sexy, whatever our bump size.
9plus1 was born to address exactly these challenges, bringing us closer to sustainability with their wardrobe that grows with your baby (and soon, a wardrobe that grows with your bump as well).
With 9plus1, parents subscribe and each month choose a bundle of clothes from over 600 product lines and over 30 eco-friendly, premium brands.
Personally, I find these clothes beautiful and having so much choice in one place is unique.
Each month, they send clothes back and choose a new bundle, with new designs and in the right size (or appropriate to the right season). If a certain item gains sentimental value (we all know we have a couple of those tiny baby grows stashed away in our keep sake box), they can buy it at a price below retail value, instead of returning it.
To us, this is a win-win business model — an eco-friendly way to have a wide choice of clothes, no cutter in the house and much cheaper than buying.
The 9plus1 management team fits perfectly with Voulez Capital’s values. Hele and Chris are both very experienced in their field with a huge passion for environmental protection. We have worked closely with them over the last couple of years to bring the business to where it is today. Out of stealth mode, managing an influx of first orders and ready to scale up.
Voulez Capital is their first institutional investor and we have made a couple of rounds of investment into the company to help bring it to where it is today. Each day, I eagerly await new customer number updates, knowing that each one will love the clothes and the service as much as I do.
Anya Navidski Founding Partner, Voulez Capital