Interview with Worn for Good

Worn for Good

Can you tell us a little bit about your background/history that has led you to the point of starting Worn for Good

We met at a volunteer information session for a yoga charity back in 2015 and quickly became friends.  A shared sense of humour and a mutual interest in women’s empowerment, sustainability and social justice, WFG was born out of our first hand experiences in witnessing the issues that systemically affect disadvantaged communities, both locally and across the world.

We had the bones of WFG - utilising existing resources to support charity - and for the first year we would meet up after a yoga class, at the sauna or to go for a bush walk to brainstorm the idea. We’ve always had a strong vision to create something meaningful that was grounded in community connectedness and giving back to people in need, that was ultimately good for the planet. Although we had different skillsets and experiences that spanned many industries, together we had a combined 15+ years of experience of working in not for profits. It was fun to combine our mutual interests and skills to bring a little magic into the notion of social impact.  

Pip had spent almost a decade working in the not-for-profit sector as a social worker in youth homelessness as well as 18 months in Kenya working for children’s charity, Flying Kites.  Her work meant she had seen first hand the issues plaguing our local and global community, so she was keenly aware of the needs and challenges confronting some of society’s most vulnerable.  Pip is also a marriage celebrant, doula and all round business woman. Pips ability to wear many hats and run a number of successful, conscious businesses, has always wow’d me. 

I came from a bit of different arena, with a degree in Journalism and Marketing, I worked for many years in the fashion and magazine industry - before ultimately having the realisation I was meant to be doing something more personally meaningful.  So I packed up my desk and pursued the heart-felt calling to study and teach yoga and meditation.  Having spent the last decade teaching yoga and meditation in Sydney, as well as working for Australian Charity, A Sound Life - an organisation that brings therapeutic yoga, meditation and music as free services to underprivileged communities including women’s refuges, youth outreach, disability facilities, cancer support services and drug and alcohol rehabilitation - I knew I was happiest when doing heartfelt, purposeful work.  

So, after countless cups of coffee, ocean swims and meetings in the sauna, our idea grew and evolved into something we are really proud of.  We hope our initiative encourages a positive conversation around sustainability and brings to the forefront issues that many women and children are facing.  

Worn for Good

Tell us about a bit about Worn for Good and the inspiration behind it.

Worn For Good is a social enterprise that collects pre-loved designer apparel from fashion heavyweights, brands, and influencers for customers to shop at a fraction of the RRP. 100% of profits go to our three charity partners who each support women in need, combining conscious consumerism and compassion with every purchase.  Think - cool clothes, from fashionable humans, to support women and a more sustainable world. 

Our three charity partners are charities we are hugely passionate about and impact a wide range of women in Australia.  

1) Women’s Community Shelters - Women escaping domestic violence and homelessness

2) Look Good Feel Better - Women undergoing treatment for cancer 

3) Raise - Young at-risk mums 

Our professional backgrounds meant we had both worked with women escaping DV and homelessness so this was the first charity we approached. With Pip’s work as a Doula, she has experienced first hand the vital need to support at-risk mums so the Bump Program by Raise was a great fit.  In 2018 I was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer, so I naturally felt called to do what we could to support and empower women who had been through similar hurdles to those I have personally experienced.   It was then we decided to widen our impact by working with multiple charity partners. We also hope that by providing three charities for people to choose from at the checkout, it allows for a higher level and cause for personal alignment.

We really see WFG as an opportunity for people to shop more sustainability, for three really important causes. 

How does sustainability play a role in the business? How important is this to you?

Sustainability is a major pillar in our business and one of the fundamental reasons we concepted WFG.  We wanted to encourage and inspire a more conscious approach to consuming fashion by changing the way people think about buying preloved clothing. We tell the stories behind the garments — the people who made them and the people who wore them —  so our customers can feel something before they buy, it’s more than just a monetary transaction. 

We keep clothes in circulation and encourage a purposeful approach to building your wardrobe. We want our customers to be able to shop and wear pieces they love, but in a more sustainable way, and always with the objective of giving back, both to our planet and to vulnerable women. 

We’re inspired by many local and global fashion brands who are now more than ever doing what they can to reduce their carbon footprint, GHG, and reduce wastage by looking at more sustainable ways of manufacturing. We’ve adopted a Rx4 model (reduce, reuse, repair and resale) wherever possible, from collecting pre-loved clothing all the way through to our packaging. 

worn for good sophie palmer pip best

What are your thoughts on the future role sustainability plays both professionally in business and in our everyday lifestyle choices, in regards to the future health of our planet?

Whether you are are a business owner or a consumer, the issues of sustainability have at last come to the fore in popular consciousness.  The genesis of WFG is based upon our strong belief that a sustainable business and social model really is the only direction forward.  It has been so amazing to see our local and global communities get behind the work that needs to be done here…The recent climate change protests are the perfect example of the gaining momentum of a rising social consciousness. 

And We’re not only seeing this on a business and collective community level, but also in our individual and every day lifestyle choices where it feels that people are becoming far more aware, educated and inspired to make more conscious decisions to positively impact our collective mother every day.   Whether around shopping and eating more sustainability, limiting the use of single use plastics and plastic bags,  recycling materials, shopping sustainability and locally - it’s really positive to see this gaining momentum.

How does technology and innovation play a role in Worn for Good?

Both are huge. Being an online store and working with an online community of ambassadors as well as online customers, we rely heavily on technology and social media to elevate the awareness of the work we are doing and inspire positive conversation about the health of our planet and the empowerment of women. 

Social media and the use of technology in our business allows us to communicate specific messaging to large segmented audience, which 10 years ago would not have been possible across the digital landscape. Right now, we have the power to spread awareness to audiences across the globe with a central focus of giving back.

As well as these advances in tech communications, we now have the ability to take the hard work out for our customers. Of course, we love finding that perfect pair of vintage Levis jeans at our local flea market as much as the next girl - but we also understand that this isn’t always an easy feat.  Thanks to the wide world web, we’re now able to give our customers exclusive access to the wardrobes of fashion heavyweights and much loved influences, to shop pre loved luxury garments and accessories, at a fraction of the RRP from their laptop or mobile device, wherever that may be.   

How important do you think transparency and authenticity in brands is to consumers?

Throughout the process of building WFG, we always ask ourselves “how can we make this as transparent as possible?” and “how can we communicate in a way that feels authentic to us, our ambassadors and our community?”.

A good example of this is our commitment to give 100% of profits to our charity partners. We’ve included this in the FAQ section of our website and will continue to educate our customers about this via social media. 

It's really important for us to make sure our customers understand that 100% of profits means that after you pay staff, fixed overheads, and expenses (all the things that keeps a business operating), the leftover is the profit.   That might sounds simple, but that wasn’t transparent enough for us, we wanted to be more clear with our customers.   So we crunched the numbers and found that 100% of our expected profits roughly equates to the same as 30% of the purchase price of each garment. This means that with every single purchase, we commit a guaranteed percentage to our charity partners, which is a littler scarier for us, but more transparent for the customer. 

It also enables our community to track our live impact, knowing exactly where their hard earned money is going and the impact it is having.  We’ll continually assess this and aren’t afraid to move the goalposts if we need to. 

 worn for good

What does wilderness mean to you?

We both thought about this and agreed that Wilderness is a sacred, magical, peaceful, powerful place deep in mother nature where there is no phone reception, no access to emails, and NO ONE can find you. For anyone else in start up phase, don't doubt you’ll agree this sounds like bliss right now. 

Do you have a favourite item, it may be an heirloom handed down from a grandparent, friend or relative of some kind, that has great meaning to you?

Pip - my sisters and I all have a thing for heirloom jewellery. We remember trying on all my nan’s jewellery when we were little, trying to agree on who got to wear which ring. We all hoped that when we grew up, we would have fingers full of rings like she did. When my Nan passed away, my mum bought me a gold signet ring similar to the one my Nan wore, and had it engraved with my grandpa’s family crest. Now I feel like I carry a bit of both of them with me at all times. I’ll hand it down to my grandchildren, who will hopefully be admiring by fingers full of rings one day. 

Sophie - My most treasured piece is a beautiful opal ring which my grandmother left for me.  It’s timeless and something I hold very dear to my heart.  Its been my mission over the past few years - particularly since working on WFG to only shop and keep pieces in my cupboard that I treasure, and that I know will last a lifetime, just like my Grandmothers ring.  I’d love to be able to hand down the pieces in my wardrobe to future little ones, one day.

If you had to choose one place to live with only the basics available to you where would it be and what would you take with you apart from the obvious survival gear?

Pip - Somewhere by the ocean, with a good book, music, and my partner (is that allowed?) 

Sophie - You’d find me on a small, dreamy island somewhere in the Balearic islands with my fiancé, our crazy little pound hound, Winston Furchill, a good bottle of Spanish wine and a jar of never ending olives. 

Imagine you're looking back in 25 years time, what would be the legacy that you would hope for your brand to leave behind?

We both hope that through WFG we can be a contributing voice for women’s empowerment, create lasting impact in the sustainable fashion movement, raise millions of dollars for our charity partners and by doing so, directly contribute to the lasting empowerment, health, wellbeing and happiness of the communities of women we are seeking to support. 

What message do you have for those starting their own business in regards to sustainability and innovation? 

Soph - Just begin. If you have a dream, a vision for a better way of doing things, you simply have to start somewhere.  Nothing will ever change by hoping or waiting around for someone else to give it a go.  No doubt, with any new venture there will be ups and downs - challenges, learning and triumphs -  however if your heartfelt intention and work is rooted in wanting to give back, and bring about positive change to our collective planet and community - back yourself! There’s no better path you could be on.

Pip - From the ever wise Ricky Gervais “No-one else knows what they’re doing either”. We can get so caught up in thinking we need to know it all before we start, or we look at successful brands or businesses and think that could never be us. But really, I think most people are making it up as they go along.

What brands to you admire?

It’s been incredible to see so many old and new brands and emerging designers think more ethically and sustainably. From OG’s like Patagonia, through to Reformation, Nudie Jeans, NAGNATA, KitX, Maggie Marilyn, Elk the Label.