“Forget The Ego. Embrace The Eco.”
I recently interviewed Quinn Koike, the founder of a new exciting online platform for ethical fashion called EthicalBox. You guys are one of the first to hear, as the site will launch for consumers in only a few weeks time! So here’s the little interview with Quinn – a chat about his inspiration to start the business, why ethically produced fashion looks better in his opinion and what’s it like being a Hatchery entrepreneur based in Shoreditch.
Hi Quinn! Tell me a bit about your business. What is EthicalBox?
EthicalBox is looking to be the number one destination for ethical fashion. We are an online marketplace where ethical brands worldwide can upload their products and consumers can buy fashion items knowing that there are no sweatshops involved in the production. Many of the brands on board are organic and environmentally friendly, too – the customers can browse items by ethical category eg. vegan, fairtrade, low environmental foot print… We set the base standards for the brand ethics and so can guarantee that all the products available through us are made in a fair way.
Why did you decide to set up EthicalBox?
When I was 18 I ran a non-profit organisation founded by me and a friend, to increase donations to charities, where the passion originally sparked from. The venture took me to giving a talk about social enterprises at LMU and connecting with the guys at Accelerator that run a Hatchery business start-up programme for London Met students and graduates. Having realised there was no “yellow pages” for ethical fashion, I thought why not to create all-in-one place for it? At EthicalBox we believe that our base standards and ethics shouldn’t be an added extra, but a minimum requirement. We want to help brands and designers that do good, yet are independent and small, by giving them the coverage they deserve.
What sparked your passion for ethical fashion?
I have always been into fashion and looking unique. But being stylish is also about how you feel about yourself in your clothes, and I feel like you can’t really look that good knowing someone has been mistreated in the process of making your garment. That’s why I believe anyone will look better wearing ethical clothing.
What are your favourite ethical/sustainable fashion brands?
There are a few! Pants To Poverty is a really cool underwear brand. Then there is Faulkner London, which is my favourite out of the more expensive brands for men – their prices aren’t actually higher because the brand is ethical, but because the items are hand-made in London and the high-quality materials sourced from Italy and France. Out of the affordable brands I like the cozy EC Streetwear, which is amazing as the brand can actually compete in price with the high street retailers. They are showing people that ethical fashion doesn’t have to be expensive.
How are you planning to attract fashion folks to choose ethical fashion?
We hope to show off some cool, unheard labels to the fashion folks, and message that being fashionable and ethical don’t have to cancel each other out. We’ve paid a lot of attention to our website design – it’s sleek and stylish and thus attractive to everyone, not just the die-hard ethical product fans. Ultimately we’d like to see ourselves as a place for great fashionable brands, just like other sites out there, yet we can also guarantee all the brands are ethical at the same time.
You are based in the Hatchery of the Accelerator (London Met’s business incubator) in Shoreditch. What’s it like being a Hatchery business?
It’s great and very helpful! Being at Accelerator is great for networking, I for instance found my graphic designers here, and you can really build a team for your business that has a real work space, rather than trying to create a business from your bedroom. I think this is a key when you are scaling up. Hatchery is also free for us London Met alumni. On top of that, being located in Shoreditch is a killer. We are close to the city & the financial district, and we have the Silicon roundabout – the landmark of the world’s 3rd largest start-up sector in the world – right around the corner! It’s amazing location for the connections, and also great spot in terms of our clientele: fashionable yet conscious people.
What can we expect from EthicalBox?
Great-looking, no-compromise fashion for everyone, not only for the typical ethical consumers. In future we hope to move from small brands to also bigger ones and perhaps eventually expand to homeware, too. One day EthicalBox could grow to be sort of like “amazon of ethical products”. We’d also love to launch an app one day for clothes swops, allowing users to get new cool outfits by recycling and exchanging clothing rather than buying new items.
Images from EthicalBox photoshoot. Men’s clothing by Faulkner London, shoes Wills Vegan Shoes. Women’s clothing from Mia by Mia Nesbit.
Thank you Quinn for the interview and good luck with EthicalBox launch! And guys, before the site opens for public, make sure to follow EthicalBox on Twitter, if cool independent brands and ethical fashion tickle your fancy. Remember to save their address (you can already have a look what the website looks like!) and follow their social media pages to be notified as soon as the site launches.
Also, if you are a London Met/The Cass student or graduate and interested in joining the awesome Hatchery program at Accelerator with your business idea, then go check out more info here. The deadline to apply is next Monday the 13th of October, so pretty soon! Guess who else might be joining too…