Journey to Ownrship: How to RELOVE your closet and make money from it with Vasiliki Belegrinis
A closet full of clothes, and nothing to wear? Countless women feel this way everyday, and find themselves in a vicious cycle of purchasing more clothes and feeling more guilt. 22-year old Vasiliki Belegrinis, a recent business graduate, started RELOVE as a wardrobe-sharing platform for millennial women. You can rent fabulous outfits for 90% off of the original cost, while those lending them out earn an income from clothes they’ve hardly worn. We get the CEO and Founder, Vasiliki to share her motivation behind RELOVE, and what it means to be an early-stage startup.
Q1: Vasiliki, you describe yourself as an unconventionalist pursuing fashion, technology and social impact. How does fashion and social impact fit in with RELOVE?
Women spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on fashion pieces, and then never wear them again. In fact, we wear less than 20% of what’s in our closet. The 80% that’s collecting dust translates into a lot of money and textiles being wasted. Every year $1 billion worth of wearable products are dumped in landfills. RELOVE is on a mission to reduce our carbon footprint by getting people to reuse hardly-worn clothing. It creates a local community of women who empower one another through style.
Q2: Share with us the early days of developing the idea behind RELOVE.
As a college student, my closet quadrupled in size attending conferences and working internships. My sister was in retail, and bought a lot of clothes too. Soon our personal closets were overflowing with so many items, and our bank accounts were bleeding from our spending. But when I learned that the fast fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter, I decided to tear down my closet and transform it into an office to build this company.
Q3: When you were making your business official, what did you tackle first?
We’re still in private beta. But ever since launching our business, we’ve been working closely with our customers to understand their concerns and tailor the RELOVE experience to their needs. Our biggest asset is the network of women we’ve built who share their style with each other. We ensure that each lender and renter feels supported in the process. Our strategic partners are important to our growth. We are working on streamlining our operations.
Q4: What has been your biggest success or earliest win in running your business thus far?
In November 2018, I won the Schulich Startup Night competition. After two years of working on the idea, this was the first time that I was speaking about RELOVE publicly. I was just an early-stage startup, pitching her idea on the same stage as experienced entrepreneurs and companies who had been in the fray much longer than I had. But I believed in our mission.
Q5: What has been your biggest challenge in running RELOVE?
I see RELOVE as a logistics company first. We ship the clothes to the borrower’s home or to a drop-off location. We also manage returns. This definitely creates a range of challenges.
Q6: What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day starts out of my closet. I feel empowered when I’m dressed for success. There are phone calls to make and meetings to attend with our operational partners. I’m also communicating with our renters, helping them style an outfit for their next event. On certain special occasions, you’ll also see me pulling a scene out of Netflix’s Girlboss show, where I’m hauling a dress across the city for an urgent order. There’s never a dull moment!
Q7: Was there anything you wish you knew before launching your business?
I wish I had found out about Ownr earlier, I would have incorporated sooner. Before RELOVE, I had started another social enterprise focused on the refugee crisis. It brought internet connectivity to remote communities. When my co-founders and I were ready to incorporate, while still university students, we only considered going to lawyers. It was an expensive and very time consuming experience. Honestly, I was trying to delay that process as much as I could for RELOVE until I discovered Ownr.
Q8: Are there any tips you would like to share with other business owners?
My biggest tip is to get started, even when you don’t feel ready. Don’t wait to figure out all the pieces of the puzzle. I’ve been building RELOVE for the past 2 years, but always had moments where I felt that I wasn’t ready enough or that I needed my platform to be perfect or have over a thousand followers. A quest for perfection was delaying real progress. RELOVE is a perfectly imperfect passion project of mine. I’ve been building upon its failures and successes everyday.
Q9: Where can people find RELOVE?
We are currently accepting clothes you may want to lend, and make money from on reloveclub.ca. We are not public with our renting just yet, but on our site you can sign up to our newsletter for all the news on when we’ll launch our giveaways and special discounts. For reading this blog and in appreciation of the wonderful team at Ownr, you can use code OWNR20 for 20% off on your first order (of course, when we go live!)