Josephine Philips – the twenty-three-year-old entrepreneur who founded Sojo – the cleaver “Deliveroo” style app for clothing alterations. The app allows customers to connect with local seamsters, select what alterations need to be done and a bike courier will collect the piece, within five days it’s returned and ready to wear.
Over the last year, we have a seen a shift in how people consume, how they wear clothes, wanting to wear what is already in the wardrobe or shop second hand, which is a great direction for the industry to be heading in. We spoke to Josephine about her own second-hand-shopping journey and how Sojo was created.
Josephine, could you please tell me a bit about your background? How did you discover your love for sustainability?
I actually only graduated in June so don’t have much of a background or career history! I grew up in London and then was a student at KCL studying Physics and Philosophy. In my first year of university, I started selling on Depop as a good way to make money on the side of my studies, I then interned at their HQ over summer and, slowly but surely, I started getting more and more into the sustainable fashion space and started to understand the meaning behind the sustainable fashion movement. I learnt about how the industry was one of the most polluting on the planet and learnt about how it was rife with exploitation and human (and women’s) rights violations. I wanted to be a part of the change so quit fast-fashion and started making a change through my own choices when it came to shopping habits and then from there, I had the idea for Sojo and realised I could make a change at a much larger scale to hopefully help in making the whole industry more circular.
We think the Sojo app is genius and a fantastic way to help the fashion industry become more circular, can you tell us how you came up with the idea?
The actual idea for Sojo was born out of personal problem that I faced when I was shopping second-hand clothes, having moved away from fast-fashion. I kept finding amazing one-off pieces that I loved that weren’t my size. I wanted to alter them to fit me, but I didn’t know how to sew and going to a local seamster just felt like too much time and effort –I’m part of a generation who are used to a whole host of services at our fingertips from food to taxis to beauty treatments etc. So, I decided to create a really easy way to get your clothes altered or repaired by creating our App which is trying to modernise the age-old tailoring industry and is making sure convenience is a key part of sustainable fashion.
How did you find the process of going from idea to physical app?
It was a long but exciting journey, and I loved every aspect of it. I had the idea in October 2019 and then we launched January 2021 so over a year went into it (although I did take some months off in the middle to finish my degree). I was a methodical process that went from idea concept, to market research with over 300 people, to doing a test run of the idea with google forms, to designing the app myself and then getting a software engineer to bring it to life whilst I spent time growing our brand and online community. Taking it each day at a time and going from step to step was how we did it and in the end it all came together (miraculously).
The community you are building around Sojo is fast-growing, can you tell us a bit about your community?
At Sojo, we want it to be more than just an app and a service, we want it to be a community of people who are coming together to be a part of a change that is important. Sojo believes in slowing down our relationship to fashion and we want to help make people aware of the negative aspects of the industry so that they can be impassioned to want to make a change alongside us.
What plans have you got for the future of Sojo?
Expansion, expansion, expansion. We’re currently only operating in London zones 1-2 but we’ve had over 600 requests for us to be in other areas. We want to grow beyond London into other UK cities and then to take on Europe also. It’s important that Sojo is available to as many people as possible so that we have as great an impact as we can.
To discover more about Sojo head to sojo.uk/home