By Hannah Connolly
We want to empower communities to make their own money, have their own side hustle and be their own mini entrepreneurs. When you start keeping the money within communities, that's how people grow," Lucy Hall explains to me as we chat over Zoom.
Hall makes up part of the co-founder trio of the game-changing fashion rental platform LOANHOOD. Together, Jade McSorely, Jen Charon and Lucy Hall are mapping out an alternative to the current fashion landscape.
To put it simply, LOANHOOD does good, major good. Carving out an innovative experience that addresses fashion's immense impact on the environment—armed with a business proposition that allows users to do good and make good on their sartorial spending power through a circular economy model.
Tapping into the innate power of community, LOANHOOD is a peer-to-peer fashion rental service that allows users to feel the joy of sharing, whilst making a return on investment. Inclusive of fashion from across the price point spectrum and original pieces, LOANHOOD doesn't stop here with features like 'Loan The Rent Look'; the platform celebrates individual style and includes Gen-Z right at the heart of the conversation.
From working with universities and empowering users, to launching pop-ups and navigating the pre-seed landscape, LOANHOOD is changing the game one rental at a time. Here we caught up with Lucy Hall to discuss the LOANHOOD journey, the path to investment, the importance of education and the power of community building…
“The value is changing, it's your style over trend lend fashion. We really want Gen-Z to feel included in the fashion rental space.“
Can you tell us about the LOANHOOD Journey?
We are three female co-founders. It is myself, Jade and Jen.
Jade was studying for her master's at London College of Fashion, and she had been modelling up to a point then realised she wanted to go back into education. She was studying fashion futures and this whole idea of the circular economy, sharing and peer-to-peer started coming out in their discussions and it was like “We have to do something like this!”
I had a restaurant in Covent Garden for three and a bit years. It was my lifelong dream to do that so I quit my job and opened a restaurant. Then I sold the business and went back into being a model booker and it just wasn't sitting right with me.
Sustainability had really come into my life with food and gave me more of a connection. But with clothes, there is that disconnect, you don't get the inside scoop on how the fashion industry actually operates behind the scenes.
“We all feel that excitement when it drops through our door and we don’t want to take that excitement away from people. We want to give people another experience that they can share with each other and that isn't as damaging to the planet,”
We were then bouncing ideas around with Jen. Jen is a graphic designer by trade and she had just left Net a Porter. We were having beers at Shoreditch House and putting the world to rights and we said let's do it, the three of us. Then LOANHOOD was born.
We knew we needed to test the idea so we started doing clothes swaps working with Hackney Council. We have been connected to them for years and we value this partnership as we are all about supporting the community.
Then of course the pandemic hit and we were like shit. And at that point, other platforms started coming about, and we thought Oh God, are we going to miss the boat?
But we just tried to keep focused and stay in our own lane and learnt as much as we can about the circular economy and sustainability, to know how we can create the best possible option for people as an alternative to the current system.
How important is the element of community to LOANHOOD?
It just feels right. Jade and I are both from the North East and we're all about empowering our communities. We have been a part of the system where we've given all of our money to these big fashion companies.
But actually, we want to empower communities to make their own money, have their own side hustle, and be their own mini entrepreneurs. When you start keeping the money within communities that's how people grow and profit as individuals.
I know, especially at the moment, with energy prices going up and the cost of living after the pandemic, particularly in London, you can feel lonely.
The idea of community, bringing people together, giving them the power to make their own money, and for them to be in control of their futures is so important, because if we rely on the leaders that have the power, we aren't going to get very far. We need to take back control so we can create a more sustainable future for ourselves!
“It's all about that education and sharing knowledge … that's why we are really passionate about working with universities and colleges. It's about opening people's eyes to alternative options.“
Do you think younger consumers have a new perspective on buying?
100%, I mean I grew up in the fashion industry when eCommerce started and that changed the whole industry. This was in the early days of fast fashion and Gen-Z particularly has grown up with this easy access & little choice.
But they have also grown up with sustainability, the pandemic and the climate crisis and it is that kind of conflict that they are faced with daily. They want to be sustainable and influence the fashion industry, but they also want to have access to the trends.
Shopping can be addictive and when it arrives in the post, we all feel that excitement when it drops through our door and we don’t want to take that excitement away from people. We want to give people another experience that they can share with each other and that isn't as damaging to the planet, because we are circulating things that are already in existence.
Maybe you don't love it anymore but somebody else will, and it means you can start making money from clothes that you already own. It's a no brainer to us.
Why is it important to be more inclusive of pricing points in the fashion rental space?
How we see it at the moment is that we accept all clothes from high-end to high street. I mean it's great if you have a designer wardrobe and you can make a lot of money renting that out, but most people don't have that. Especially young people.
If you're at university and you don't have a killer wardrobe as budgets are tight, we want to help to create a wardrobe that is constantly changing and we have a feature called Loan A Look to achieve this. With 'Loan a Look' you can style multiple pieces together and mix high street fashion with some more expensive accessories and essentially borrow someone's style to make your own.
So the value is changing, it's your style over trend lend fashion. We really want Gen-Z to feel included in the fashion rental space.
How important is it to educate your users?
What we hope to do is educate people on that journey, so come in with what you have but know you can make a return on your investment. And if you are going to buy something, buy something that is ethical, longer lasting and that's made sustainably, it may be a bit more expensive but you know that if you rent it out you'll make 5 times your money back and you still get to wear it yourself!
It's all about that education and sharing knowledge which changes our mindsets and hopefully the world! So, that's why we are really passionate about working with universities and colleges. It's about opening people's eyes to alternative options.
Can you tell us about your investment journey so far?
I have been leading the investment journey and it has been quite an eye opener. Going into it I thought, Okay I love a challenge, so I went in with my arms wide open thinking let's chat, let's talk and let's go for it!.
I think the journey of creating pitch decks and pitching our business, especially doing it via Zoom, is a game changer. I have listened to a lot of webinars and taken advice from a lot of different people which can be overwhelming because there are so many different opinions but you have to stay true to what you believe in while taking on board other opinions and adapting.
I talked with so many different founders and we're always swapping stories, which is super useful. That was a big step for us, understanding our story, what our narrative and how to get that across to get people engaged.
A lot of the people I approached were all online. It was fill out this form, attach your pitch deck, there was no back and forth, there was no chat. That was really hard.
“The idea of community, bringing people together, giving them the power to make their own money, and for them to be in control of their futures is so important.”
We were establishing our pre-seed funding and we were unsure of how successful we would be. We were like yes let's raise a seed round, but then our lead investor said our business model stage was 100% pre-seed.
Now that I understand it much more, through solid research, you realise there is a formula to follow and a process that you have to fit into the terminology. Even understanding the business terminology and lingo used around your investment is just nuts!
Our lead investor is great and totally gets it and of course, they have their own successful businesses. We are still really new so our community and our audience is always changing. Another layer is that it's a two-sided marketplace, it's a whole chicken and the egg moment - who comes first the borrowers or the loaners?
I found the investment journey super interesting, I learnt so much and I met so many amazing people.
Can you tell us about your exciting pop-up experience?
From Friday to Sunday (20th-22nd May), it is a rental marketplace. People can come down and try on before they rent, meet the loaners and gain an insight into how they made the items and their stories. You can even come down and shoot your own pieces at our selfie station!
We are passionate about our community and are determined to help emerging talent; whether that is a maker, a crocheter, an accessories or clothes designer who's starting out. So we decided to put on this pop-up event to showcase their talents and are looking forward to extending our community!
The Stack catches up with co-founder Lucy Hall ahead of the LOANHOOD pop-up to talk About gen-Z’s place in the rental space, the path to investment and the power of unlocking a communities economic power.
By Hannah Connolly
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