Meet the #girlboss tackling fashion's waste problem
If you haven't heard of Helpsy.co then let me fill you in on what is tredning now: it's a for-profit B Corp that is radically changing the way people think, approach and take responsibility for their clothing and recycling. Helpsy makes reusing and recycling your clothes and shoes more convenient and easier than ever. The largest clothing collector in Northeast US, Helpsy has more than 1,800 collection containers and has collected over 25 million pounds of clothes over the last year, reducing 320 million pounds of CO2 emissions, 20 billion gallons of water and the electricity usage of 10,000 American homes.
The collected clothes are resold in thrift stores in North America or turned into rags for industrial use or things like stuffing and insulation. Their social mission oversees the donation of clothes to those in need, like winter jackets for the homeless.
I had the pleasure to sit down with Rachel Kibbe (@rvmkibbs) co-founder of Helpsy (@helpsy) to find out more about how Helpsy came to be, and how #girlboss Rachel Kibbe manages her business and her life in NYC.
What inspired you when you graduated from school to initiate Helpsy?
Everything from the environmental impact to the social injustice issues plaguing the fashion industry were glaringly obvious to me. I knew that solution based businesses were the future.
What were the issues that you saw that led to you growing this company?
I often see things from a very general, birds-eye view, and that allows me to take a critical look at societal and business trends. It's just how my mind works.
Do you think documentaries like the 'True Cost' should be made a mandatory part of educating the next generation of designers?
What has been the most challenging or overwhelming part of Helpsy and spreading awareness to the issues you are so passionate about?
Getting people to understand that clothing "donation" is not donation. It's recycling. People should treat their clothing as they would plastics and aluminum and no matter what, never throw anything out, no matter the condition.
What has been rewarding about owning your own company in New York City and creating an impact in fashion and sustainability?
I am part of a team. The owners are Dan Green, Dave Milliner and Al Husted and I am one of the co-founders. They purchased my my brand and company assets, a former online store for sustainable fashion called HELPSY. We merged and all are working together. The most rewarding part is being able to take part as a leader in a cutting edge, solutions based business.
Becoming a B Corp is a massive achievement, how important do you think it is that companies start implementing sustainable practices? I think it is vital for us as a human race and also for businesses if they want to continue to have customers in the long term.
As a fellow #girlboss in NYC, what would you say to women with a passion who want to start their own company/brand?
Keep it a side hustle until you genuinely don't have to any more. There's no shame in that.
As a #girlboss with a very clear passion for changing the sustainability of fashion and recycling, where do you shop in NYC?
I rarely shop, except for workout gear and undergarments. If I have to, I generally shop on resale websites.
What are challenges you face looking to the future of Helpsy and the future of sustainability in fashion?
We face all the challenges that any small startup faces: finances, scaling, everyone wearing many hats. But we also have all the opportunities at our fingertips given the business we are in. It is estimated that resale is going to surpass fast fashion quickly and we're in the right place to be a part of that business segment.