This is the transcript of Episode 22: Ambar – New Life for Your Closet (Mini) of the How to Make a Difference podcast. Go to the episode page to listen to this episode and for the show notes. Furthermore, we encourage you to read our blog post on conscious consumption.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: Hey everyone.
Alicia Lee: Hi everyone. Last week we talked about how we can reduce our consumption, and this week we will talk about what can we do, we can reduce and instead we can reuse.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: Before we get into the nitty-gritty of reusing, I just wanted to quickly remind you to please fill out our survey. We are spending a lot of time in producing the podcast, and so we want to make sure that we’re spending this time to actually produce something you want to hear. So, please, please fill out the survey. It will really just take you a minute.
Alicia Lee: So I think the idea of reusing it’s actually quite broad. It’s not just reusing what we already have, but it can also refer to maybe buying things secondhand, or renting, or maybe even using things in a sharing or a subscription model.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: And just to state the obvious, if we are reusing things, that means we don’t have to produce a new product. And, of course, we avoid the carbon footprint associated with producing that new product.
Alicia Lee: Have you ever tried to rent, or reuse, certain types of things?
Elisabeth Ignasiak: I think for me it’s mostly buying secondhand, where I’ve discovered that you can get furniture, really, really cheap, if you buy them secondhand. And it’s also something that I find quite easy. So buying furniture secondhand is surprisingly easy to find what you need, whereas you know when it comes to say household items, you… when you’re looking for that piece of decoration in a specific colour, I find it really difficult to get that secondhand.
Alicia Lee: Yeah, yeah, for myself, it’s yeah like you, was also trying to buy secondhand if possible. But like you mentioned, there are certain items that are much easier to find than others.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: But yeah, actually talking about buying things secondhand: While mostly it goes quite well it can also go badly. So for exsample, the microphone I bought for this podcast, I actually had bought it secondhand. And it lasted me half a year, then it broke and I was like: No, no, no! Yeah, and then the microphone I bought after I bought new because I was like: Okay, I need this, you know, every day, so…
Alicia Lee: Yeah. It brings up an interesting concern that people, I guess… I also would have is buying things secondhand: What if something breaks? Is there some kind of warranty? Or, I guess, yeah.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah. There’s our startup idea.
Alicia Lee: I guess another model is sharing subscription. So I think in Asia or Singapore at least it was quite common to have rideshare. So instead of having your own car, a lot of people would just take a Grab or Uber that kind of thing. I don’t know, it’s very common in Germany?
Elisabeth Ignasiak: I feel like it’s… it’s growing, but I don’t think it’s super spread. Like those offers, they exist. Like I have friends who do car sharing, but I would say, it’s still the minority.
Yeah. Something that personally I haven’t used much yet is renting. So I think it’s something that is growing more. And I can see there’s more and more offers, it’s just something that personally I haven’t had the opportunity to use just yet.
Alicia Lee: Yeah. Yeah. Same for me. I think both Asia and US I haven’t seen much rental model. I think it’s still something that’s still growing.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah and talking about rental, this is exactly why we invited this week’s guests on, Kat and Steffi. They are building a startup in the rental space. Yeah, let’s just jump into the interview.
Interview with Kathrin Wronka & Stefanie Richter: 4:17
Elisabeth Ignasiak: We are talking Kathrin Wronka and Stephanie Richter. They are the founders of Amber Share, a fashion tech company building a person to person platform to connect lenders and borrowers of high-end fashion. Why don’t we start with the two of you telling us a little bit about yourselves and what you do?
Kathrin Wronka: Yes. Thank you for inviting us. I am Kathrin, Kat, and I’m co-founder of Ambar Share. So my background originally lies in sales. I’ve been working in sales throughout very different industries. And yeah, after a few years of intense work experience, I decided to found my own company and yeah, now I’m co-founder of Ambar. I’m responsible for growing our community and engaging and strategic partnerships, taking care of our social media platforms, creating events, photo shootings for… for our business. Doing things like this
Elisabeth Ignasiak: Very cool. What about you Steffi?
Stefanie Richter: My background is the insurance sector. And now I’m building up Ambar Share with Kathrin. Yeah, talking about Ambar, I am responsible for… mainly for the financial aspects, all the number stuff, and also the legal parts. And there are so many things to think of. And the third thing is I’m doing product management. So we are currently creating our web app and our mobile app. And this is my third part I’m responsible for.
Alicia Lee: Thank you for introduction, Steffi. Could you maybe tell us a bit more regarding how does Ambar work?
Stefanie Richter: Yes, of course. So I want to describe Ambar taking an example, taking a woman. Let’s call her Anna. Anna is invited to a wedding party, and she wants to look great. She needs a dress to wear, something special… But she wants to look different. She doesn’t want to take the same dress multiple times.
Elisabeth Ignassiak: We’ve all been there.
Stefanie Richter: Yes! But she wants to look different. She doesn’t want to take the same dress multiple times. So what does Anna do? She’s going shopping. She is just buying a new one, which is wearing maybe once or twice and then it’s in her wardrobe.
And what we with Ambar doing: we want to build a bridge, because there are other ways to get a dress that fits her, that is good for her. And not only for her but also for the environment. But I think this is another topic we can discuss later. So with Ambar, we are building the bridge between women who can borrow a dress and women who has dresses to lend out. We will provide a platform in which both sides are connected, to interact and to exchange their clothes and want to provide a fun way, a easy way, and of course, less expensive way to find the dress for your occasion that you want to wear.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: So… so let me see if I… if I got that, right. Basically, if I need a dress for, you know, that wedding, I can go on Ambar and find a dress I like and borrow it for a few days, for that event. But also, if I have a dress that I bought for a previous wedding, but I don’t want to wear anymore, I can lend it out to other women for another event. Does that capture it right?
Stefanie Richter: Perfectly right, yes! That’s exactly what we are doing.
Alicia Lee: Kat, could you explain a bit more regarding: What is the link between this clothes rental system and climate change?
Kathrin Wronka: I mean, there are different things that are totally wrong with the fashion industry. So following the petroleum industry, the fashion industry is actually the second largest cause of pollution worldwide. It starts with, for example, the cotton plants, right? So pesticides are used on all those cotton plants. Those pesticides, they go into the soil and into the groundwater, not only damaging the ground and making it infertile, but also damaging the farmer’s health. And then it’s also the whole transportation where CO2 emitted and where the environment is suffering from it. And then of course, when you have the actual textiles produced: Those release microfibers to the environment during the production of it, during the usage of it. And at the end of the life of your clothes, they land on landfills, you know, or they are getting burned, or they are lying for years over the years. A piece of clothing can actually survive you. So the risk for the environment is growing immensely, and we really need to start… yeah… protecting our environment and our planet and start with some sustainable development in the fashion industry.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah. So what I’m hearing is, fashion is basically a very dirty industry, right? You have a lot of pollution in the production, you have human rights abuses, and a lot of waste, because of fast fashion, right? Why does rental help?
Kathrin Wronka: It forms part of the circular economy, and you don’t throw away your cloth, but you share it with others. And that’s… you extend the lifecycle of your cloth. There’s this example, that you should wear one piece of clothing at least 30 times to neutralize the carbon footprint of this one item. And by keeping it in motion, in a flow, giving it to others, this piece of clothing, it’s… you know, it stays in usage, and you won’t throw it away that fast.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: And by not throwing it away we imply that, you know, we don’t have to produce a new item of clothing and have all that pollution.
Kathrin Wronka: Yes! Exactly, exactly. I mean, when you borrow a dress from me, it means that you don’t buy one, right? The most sustainable cloth is the one that you have already purchased, which is hanging in your wardrobe.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: Very well spoken.
Kathrin Wronka: And that’s why we decided to also not only rent clothes and create our own stock of clothing, which we would have to purchase, but the idea is to use the clothes that you already have hanging in your wardrobe.
Alicia Lee: So for those of our listeners, who are interested in joining this movement to reuse clothes and reduce waste, where can people find you?
Kathrin Wronka: Right now, we’re using Instagram as platform to offer our service. You can find us on Instagram and on Facebook as well when you look for amber with two “a”s: ambar.fashionshare. And we also have a Facebook group and we would like to invite all of you to this group to join us to become part of our community. It’s called Ambar, also double a, AMBAR: Ambar Share Womanhood. Our main target group are women. So if you’re a man, don’t worry you can also join us and become part of our community. Don’t worry.
And we also have monthly events. It’s about Ambar After Work Events, and that’s where we get together we talk a little bit about fashion but we also use it to get to know you guys, to talk, to have a little break from the corona pandemic, and to dress up again. Yeah, please be part of it and join us to the event! You can find out the next dates on our Facebook group, or also on our Instagram page.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: Cool. We will put all the links in the show notes so people can find you very easily.
Kathrin Wronka: Cool.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: Well, thank you so much for coming on the show. That was really insightful. Yeah. Thank you both.
Alicia Lee: Thank you.
Kathrin Wronka: Thank you.
Stefanie Richter: Thank you very much.
Alicia Lee: So for me, it was quite interesting to hear the mention of how there’s so much petroleum, pesticides, and agricultural production energy that goes into fashion. So I think it really emphasizes for me, how much of the footprint for many of the products comes from the production alone.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah, it was quite shocking to hear what a dirty industry fashion really is. And one thing I really like about their model is not just that it’s rental, which means, of course, you avoid producing something new, but I really think it’s clever that they use, what people already have in their wardrobes so that they don’t have to buy a new stock. So I really thought that was quite clever.
Alicia Lee: Yeah. I thought something Kat said was quite catchy, was that the most sustainable clothes are the ones that you already own.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: Exactly, exactly, yeah. In summary, we are aware that rental is something that might not be accessible for you, depending on where you live. However, this is definitely something you should look out for, because it’s definitely on the rise, as more and more companies become aware of the circular economy.
Alicia Lee: Right, so even if rent is not available, I think another method is sharing. So we’re seeing a lot more of car-sharing, more subscription model. I think that’s very useful as well.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah, and probably in terms of reusing the easiest is still buying secondhand. So, you know, check out your Craigslist, eBay, I mean I think buying secondhand is really easy for… well depending on the item, but it’s widely accessible, and it doesn’t matter where you live.
Alicia Lee: Right, let’s say if buying secondhand it’s not possible, then you need to buy something new, then, in that case, you want to buy something that is more sustainable, which is what we will talk about in our next episode.
Elisabeth Ignasiak: Exactly. So make sure to tune in next week. And before we go, just that quick reminder, please check out the show notes, and find the link to our survey, it would be really helpful to get your feedback. Bye-bye.
Alicia Lee: Bye. See you next week.