‘The Sustain Store’ – An idea to revolutionalise the clothing industry

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Ever heard about a radical movement in the ‘Clothing industry’ that has nothing to do with fashion?  ‘The Sustain Store’ is one of a kind initiative that aims to revolutionize the clothing industry of Nepal, Sudha Subedi and Manoj Bohra’s business idea is also bound to work wonders with the 3Rs of Sustainable Development.  Sudha is a graduate in Social work and Psychology and is currently engaged with ‘Venture Youth Legend’, a social enterprise working for youth empowerment in Nepal.

We interviewed Sudha to know more about what inspired her to conceptualize the business idea.

Sudha, you have come up with a business idea which is a rare one to think of. Could you share with us, your journey to the arrival of the same?

My inspiration for The Sustain Store actually came first, when I was in London, back in 2010. I visited a ‘charity store’ that had lots of clothes, toys and gift items, all second hand. This struck me, as I came across this concept of reusing clothes, for the first time. I decided this was something I’d like to bring back home, an idea to generate easy access to cheap clothing. After all, clothes are the basic necessity after food. This definitely wasn’t something we would see in Nepal.

I did some initial research and found out, that not many people were willing to wear clothes used by other people. There was going to be a lack of acceptance and I decided that the timing may not be right to establish this business. After 8 years however, people are more conscious of the environment and are motivated to adopt new ways to go about it. This pushed me to participate in ‘CG Smart City Challenge’, and to my surprise- I won!

What is the business concept of ‘The Sustain Store’?

Our business idea focuses on 3Rs. The first concept is “Reuse” wherein we reuse the clothes that people don’t feel like wearing anymore and discard. We plan on making pillows, cushions, and blankets from these discarded clothes on a large scale. The second concept is “Resale”, we would resell expensive clothing items like evening gowns and sarees that are worn occasionally but are stored in closets for most part of their shelf life. We intend to buy these clothes at a cheaper rate and make it available at an affordable price. The third concept is “Rent”. We’ve observed that people would like to rent out traditional attires, but refrain from doing so because of poor quality and foul smell. So, if we can provide a good service for renting and buying second hand clothing we are pretty sure that people would be interested.

What challenges do you foresee in the implementation of business in near future?

Since this is a new approach for Nepal, we are assuming that one of the biggest challenges would be to get the initial buy-in from customers. Some people might find the idea of using second hand clothes cringe worthy. But we have come across people who understand the urgent need for individual action for environment and are progressive. They would be the first takers of our product if they find it to be fresh looking as well economical. So, changing the mindset of the people would be the main challenge to run this business, I’d say.

What social problems are you trying to target with your business idea?

The focus is on reducing environment pollution. It takes 5000 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans and bulks of clothes manufactured globally are sent to landfill as waste.  Fabrics like polyesters are non-biodegradable and the only solution to manage them is to recycle.  It’s high time that we find alternatives when it comes to managing fabric waste.

One of our other focus areas is to provide good quality clothing option to people with a weak economic background at an affordable price.

So, how will you manage to source used clothes? Where from?

We have thought of different ways to do clothes collection. We would be targeting individual households, schools, and colleges by creating awareness on impact of mass scale production and disposal on the environment. People might be super fascinated, I’d believe, if we can show them the real cause behind our business.

We will also seek help from the celebrities by introducing them to our cause. We plan on putting the Celebrity clothes at our store which are only used once or twice, since these are the ones which might bring people to wear and reuse clothes, for starters.

There are also some small-scale companies which recycle old clothes and are still running. If we target the middle-class families, we’d be successful with the business I feel.

What are your future plans with the business idea?

For now this is just an idea, but we are planning to find investors. After the completion of CG incubation, we received clarity in many aspects of our idea. Our business plan is almost ready and probably after a few months, we will start working officially. The concept of ‘The Sustain Store’ is to revolutionize the clothing industry in Nepal. We are hoping to lead the industry of clothes recycling with our business in coming years

Reach Sudha Subedi at sudhasubedi@gmail.com