Tell us a little about what brought you to shopping sustainably in the first place. Did you always think about it or was it a recent change of mind?
I definitely wasn’t growing up thinking about this much. Shopping more conscious came about slowly and was impacted by different events over time.
20 years ago, I was eager to become an international fashion buyer. I studied International Fashion Management and learned about producing 4 collections a year for a fashion calendar that is completely out of sync with the end customer, damaging for sales and unsustainable for the environment. (Why launch a winter collection in August and discount it right before winter has even started? Why buy & produce with the knowledge of selling 30% at full price, 30% at sale price and 40% not to be sold? What to do with all this leftover stock that is in great shape but no longer ‘in season’?) These questions definitely impacted my view on fashion and consuming in general.
Watching the documentary A True Cost made me sick to my stomach and eager to do something. At this time I was working in E-commerce and learned about the commercial side of the business and its complexities; the money needed to keep the business going, the shareholders, the stock situation and why it’s so challenging not only for the business but also for the environment.
After I got pregnant with my oldest son, I really started to see and shop things differently. I realised that after 20 years, not much changed. If I want my children to grow up and enjoy nature and a healthy environment like I have, I had to make an impact myself and hopefully give the right example to my children. When I came across more and more brands that were doing things differently; brands that actively make a positive impact while building a sustainable and aspirational brand at the same time, I felt inspired.
Seeing how hard it is to get exposure and access to huge audiences for these brands, made me decide to launch SCOON.STORE: to support brands that care and help make the switch to sustainable shopping easy and accessible to everyone.
SCOON aims to speak to an audience of women who want to shop modern sustainable brands but don’t always know where to start. Why have you gone after this select group of women?
We targeted this group of women because we were them. We understood the hesitation around shopping sustainably because we too had written it off a couple of times before as un-inspirational boring places to shop (mainly filled with beige oversized items). And while we didn’t judge that, it also wasn’t something either of us was particularly interested in.
We researched the online space and while we were able to list a growing amount of sustainable brands that didn’t compromise on quality and style, we couldn’t find a modern place where you could shop these modern 'eco-cool' sustainable brands in one convenient place, so we decided to build it ourselves.
We know that our audience cares about people and the environment and prefers to shop from a brand that cares, but we also know that it takes time to research these brands and find ones that are genuine and have an accessible price point. Next to that, it can be a hassle shopping from all sorts of different websites so you may end up at Zara again because you just can't be bothered.
So by creating SCOON, we make it easier and more fun to shop brands that care (combining ethics, aesthetics and accessible pricing), in one convenient place.
SCOON is built around the idea of optimising inventories, where you integrate with a brand directly and don't actually hold the stock yourself. Why did you build a marketplace and what was your biggest challenge?
The sustainable fashion & beauty market is incredibly fragmented. You have all these vendors, brands and designers all over the place, but they're not aggregated. This marketplace model where we drop-ship and don't hold inventory seemed the smartest way to go about it because we don't have inventory risk.
The biggest problem with e-commerce is when brands are sitting on inventory they can't sell. We don't have that problem. It allows us a) to scale and grow really quickly, but b) to be flexible and take risks on certain categories, and if they aren't working, there's no real cost. It's been a great way to learn about the market and what's working and what's not.
The marketplace model is really great for the reasons I just described, but it's much more complex on the backend. People don't realise the complexities of integrating with each vendor's inventory management systems and making sure that inventory is updated. We are not from a tech background we luckily had a really great development team behind us and had to do a lot of learning pretty quickly. But that was probably the biggest hurdle, figuring out the backend and making sure it was efficient and that the system was working.
Proudest SCOON moment so far?
This is a really hard question because as an entrepreneur, it's hard to see and appreciate the wins. It feels like someone else is always doing things better. So even when you accomplish something big, you always look for the next step and you're never actually satisfied.
One moment that sticks out though is when we were facing very challenging financial times for SCOON at the end of last year, and I was about to go on maternity leave. While we were both exhausted and at a very low point from working 100 hours a week for very little return, we had to make a rescue plan for the business that Marloes would have to manage on her own while I was out. I was about to come back so we could work on rolling out phase two of our plan and then Corona hit... Both still in survival mode (from business and baby), we were able to follow through and bring the business to the next level where we are now making that connection with our target audience. While we are far from ‘there yet’, it did feel like a triumph getting through this.
What do you wish to accomplish this year?
Staying alive? ;) In our first year, we laid the foundation for SCOON, who are we, what are we about and who are we talking to. This year is really about using what we’ve learned to scale the business, grow the audience, and firmly establish ourselves as the trusted online destination for Brands That Care. Despite the influx of sustainable brands and retailers, we’re confident that our standards and values have set us up to win in the long run. But we still have to get in front of more people, better hone our message so that it’s really clicking with our target audience, and continue sourcing top-tier brands whose products we believe stand apart from the rest. This year, my goal is that when someone speaks about wanting to buy better in conversation with family, friends or colleagues, they’re instantly referred to SCOON as the one place you need to go to find the best and most exciting brands that really care.
What products are your current go-to's and why?
I love starting my morning routine with Madara's Ultimate Facelift Day Cream. It's moist but not thick so it feels light on my skin. Straight after I apply Madara's CC Cream to correct any redness in my skintone. I follow up with a little bit of powder foundation to matten my face since I don't like too much shine. For make up I use everything by ILIA. Their Limitless mascara and Clean line gel liner are my everyday favourites. For underwear I turn to Woron, their pieces are just so so soft. I am now testing their new lace panties which we are going to have to get online asap as well. I love white tees so it's no surprise we have a big offering on SCOON. The Organic Basics one is an all year must-have, followed by this Patagonia tee which I will be wearing all summer. I just got myself the new V12 Veja sneakers which I love (and I get so many comments on!). And lastly, I have my mind set up on a new Sissel Edelbo kimono. They are beautiful and light up every outfit. I love that I can wear it over my swimsuit, use it as a bathrobe around the house, or wear it over a jeans and tee.