Fashion has a waste problem and that’s an alarming truth. Over 20% percent of the world’s water pollution is caused by toxic chemicals used to turn raw material into fabrics, only to end up in landfills, at the end of each season. Textilu uses unwanted surplus, normally thrown away or left in storage, aspiring to design a circular fashion supply chain moving away from the linear system. Anastasia Kop and Mónica Rodríguez, co-founders, are vocal about repurposing leftovers into new collections making great strides in revolutionizing sustainable fashion. Wear clothes that matter, right?
Q: Give us your elevator pitch.
Textilu is a global marketplace connecting sellers and buyers of excess fabrics. The go-to platform for reintroducing deadstock fabrics back into the fashion loop. Our mission is to keep textiles in a cycle of reuse by connecting buyers and sellers of unused materials, aiming at zero waste. Fashion brands, clothing manufacturers, and designers can sell and buy unique fabric pieces that would otherwise be burned or landfilled. We know that reusing existing materials is the most sustainable option.
To give it more context, in terms of sellers, I’m referring to, for example, companies that could range anywhere from great sustainable Danish fashion brands to any of Inditex’s companies. They initially buy the fabrics, but end up using less than what they had initially estimated, plus the remaining stock are no longer seasonal fabrics. This stock occupies warehousing space and worse of all: might end up landfilled or burned causing strong environmental damage. COVID19 has also played a role by boosting orders’ cancellations and originating tonnes of fabrics’ to accumulate.
Thankfully with Textilu we provide a solution to prevent these fabrics from getting burned and landfilled and give them a second chance. Big or small sustainable brands, designers and even fashion design students get access to these materials with which they can do wonders ranging from capsule collections to year-full clothing pieces productions. On our platform fabrics are of great quality and attainable for a lower cost and a lower MoQ, but most important of all: they have a strong sustainable mission within reuse and repurposing of materials.
Q: what stage are you at with your startup?
We are now working on launching the marketplace platform this January 2021. I wouldn’t say we’re at a MVP stage anymore. What we’re offering is a fully functional platform, having already completed the market-fit process.
Q: What’s been the most rewarding or best part of your startup journey so far?
I believe that there is nothing more rewarding than challenges. I love embracing them. Managing a startup means facing them every day. These challenges push us to a new level of growth, learning and bravery.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your startup?
Relationships. It’s a wonderful challenge to have. Even when a business idea is great and one has the skills and the knowledge required to execute it, working in a team and building solid relationships with your co-founders, partners or clients is the backbone of the business. It is what it is, be it in a startup, a big corporation or even our own family. Relationships are key for an organization to function, they really matter and it is our responsibility to build and sustain them.
Being in the context of Demium’s Incubation program, we got connected with people we didn’t know previously, we weren’t familiar with their working style and didn’t know how it would fit ours.
The people at Demium Barcelona have helped us a lot with that aspect. I’m grateful to Rafa (Demium Barcelona HIP) who’s been so supportive, carving time in his schedule to share his insight with us and listen how we were making so much progress, which stage we were at, etc.
Demium and Textilu
Q: How has your experience been in the incubation program so far?
It’s been very interesting which I must say came as a surprise. I have previous experience with starting a business both in Vietnam and in Germany. My struggles, however, have been mostly on a partner level, making it difficult to find the right person. You end up thinking – well, I’ve tried everything I could; so, I was a bit sceptical about Demium matching me with an ideal partner. I couldn’t be more wrong. Demium has connected me with the perfect co-founder, Mónica.
I can’t say I learned something I didn’t know before about setting up a business as a whole, because I had already done that. But I learned everything there is to learn and more about pacing myself when necessary. During the selection process for the Incubation Program I learned that a steady rhythm instead of a constant speed will push you out of your comfort zone. The feeling of personal growth is amplified. What would normally take a few months could happen so much faster with Demium’s methodology. I enjoyed participating in the All Startup Weekend: Demium’s selection process to enter the Incubation program. As participants, we had to work on a project we’ve been assigned to and put everything together from deciding the business model to projecting financials in a couple of days, competition was intense, but we made it.
After being selected for the programme, the real challenge began. Together with my co-founder, we started brainstorming on what would later become Textilu. We went through Ideation, validation, tons of calls, market research, mentorships… you name it. Demium’s guidance was key in this process. They had us covered.
Q: Why did you decide to start your company with Demium?
I learned about Demium back in 2015. I forwarded my petition to enter the Incubation Program, but retracted my application soon after, as I’ve got hired for the role of CMO at a healthtech startup. I don’t regret it, as I know that the experience on the role brought me where I am today and helped me get more prepared and knowledgeable to take the challenges ahead.
I like the Demium methodology, the way you stand by every single entrepreneur and how you have been so successful helping well-known startups to enter the market. I joined your selection process in August 2020 and it’s been a roller coaster.
Q: Can you describe what Demium has done for (or helped) you?
I’d say it’s the ecosystem. It has placed me in the correct ecosystem to be able to develop Textilu. If our project had not entered the Demium incubation program, it wouldn’t have become what it is now. I would have started something else, but it wouldn’t have been anywhere near this.
I enjoy coming to the office every day. Connections with other people in Demium are very valuable and you create a great support network. The Demium ecosystem and relationships are the best. You meet entrepreneurs who are going through the same thing as you, you identify with them and together we fuel a spirit of continuous help among us.
Q: Think about where you were before you started with Demium, and give us your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs or someone considering starting their own thing.
My advice would be: give it a go, you’ve got nothing to lose. Take the leap and see what comes next. Better to try than regret never knowing you didn’t try at all.
Seek support, ask for help, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If there’s something you don’t know, don’t let that limit you. Pursue a meeting with an expert, ask for their guidance. Be a problem solver and a solution seeker.