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Beyond Consumerism: Sojo and Longer-lasting clothes

Our Beyond Consumerism page seeks out ideas big and small, for rethinking economic systems and reducing reliance on corporations and money. This time we hear from Josephine Philips who is launching a new clothing repair app as we write.

What is Sojo and what makes it an ethical alternative?

So, to make it easy to understand I describe Sojo as a Deliveroo-like service but for clothing alterations and repairs instead of food! Essentially, we connect customers with local seamster businesses through an App and pick-up/delivery service to ensure people can get their clothes altered or repaired with a few simple clicks.

The essence of the idea was to create a really easy process for the customer. I want people to be able to buy second-hand clothes with fewer sizing restrictions, in the knowledge that they could fit the clothes to their bodies instead of the other way around. In contrast to the throwaway culture that is so prevalent at the moment, I really want to encourage a repair culture.

Overarchingly, the mission is to increase the lifespan of clothing, crucial to a more circular and sustainable fashion industry.

What is most important to you about being a black woman-owned company? 

I love the idea that I’m actually living out the mantra ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’

Someone like Sharmadein Reid has been such a role model to me and has helped so much in making me believe I can do this. I would just love it if, at some point, I too could inspire other young black women to pursue founding a company in an incredibly white male-dominated industry. Being part of pushing up that ‘0.0006% of venture capital funding going to women of colour’ statistic would also be a big achievement.

Most importantly, I can build a company that emulates my values, create the company culture that I believe in, and hire people that aren’t the typical tech employees (cis-straight-white-men) in the true knowledge that diversity is a power instead of a box-tick.

What will the working conditions be like for Sojo seamsters and delivery people?

So, we’re ‘onboarding’ seamster businesses themselves, which means that, essentially, we’re just trying to support the business that they already run. They all have their shops and equipment and routines, and we will allow them to tap into a younger demographic on the App.

I really believe in knowing who is behind the business you’re supporting, so when a customer is choosing on the App, they’re able to read a short description of who the seamsters are, what’s their story, and see pictures of what they and their shop looks like.

Moreover, in the current climate, this kind of service could be really crucial to keeping businesses running as our model is a contact-free one in which there’s no need to actually go to a shop. Much in the same way food delivery kept restaurants going during lockdown, we’d love to create the same for your local Seamsters.

Right now, with our majority women riders, we’re offering flexible part-time work that allows them to choose their own hours and days, with no shifts later than 9 pm. All our riders have signed up with a passion for both cycling and a sustainable fashion mission. Down the line, I envision things like a rider clothes-swap event and other community-creating small events.

When will Sojo be launching and where?

Sojo will hopefully be launching in London in January 2021. Once I’ve proved the model works, I’d then love to grow to Brighton, Bristol, and throughout the UK!

Follow Sojo on Instagram at @sojo_app or check out their blog and join the mailing list on the Sojo website ahead of the launch.

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