Business management

Josephine Philips on weaving sustainability back into fashion

In this episode of The NatWest Business Show we spoke to Josephine Philips, a female founder building a far-reaching solution to making sustainable fashion work.

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Josephine’s Business Confession: “I nearly gave back $2.8m”

For Josephine, her business confession took place at the end of her fundraising journey. “[When] I was fundraising and pitching for it, it was hypothetical money. I remember having the conversation with my sister, being like: I don’t want it anymore. I thought I did, but I felt so stressed by what they then wanted from me and what I then needed to deliver on, which was everything that I’d promised. And I actually was like: what do I do now?”

Listen to our NatWest Business Show episode featuring entrepreneur Alex Depledge, who shares her journey on seeking finance and gives tips on how to continue business growth during challenging times.

Finding the right fit within the circular economy

Josephine soon realised that the route to sustainable fashion quite often came with friction: “I was engaging with my clothes in a way that felt more circular, but they weren’t fitting me because they only come in one size.” Plus she found visiting a tailor to be old-fashioned and time-consuming. “It has not been modernised for the 21st century. And young people are increasingly wanting to engage more sustainably with their clothing. I have to build that solution.”

The Sojo platform started with Josephine doing everything. “I would go pick it up, try and get a commission from the tailors. It was pure, scrappy, non-glossy, non-funded beginning.”

Although Josephine had no background in sewing or fashion (she studied physics at university), her internship at a resale tech start-up was good experience. “It taught me what it is to be in a start-up, what it is to create a culture, to do something disruptive, something cool.”

All I can do is what I can do today

Josephine Philips
Founder and CEO, Sojo

Top tips for growing a business

  • With each hurdle, have a smaller goal: “All I can do is what I can do today. I honestly say that so often. And the same can apply to different periods of time. I think breaking it down just makes it feel less overwhelming.”
  • Learn to delegate: “I’ve got to know the other side of the business. I think that’s where delegation comes in and understanding what you’re not good at. Who is good at doing what they do? And how can you find those people to support you?”
  • Learn from mistakes: “I feel like the whole experience of running a business, especially when it’s your first business, is all just about getting things wrong. Learning from that and doing better next time.”
  • Practise self-belief: “There are so many tangible bits of advice that I could give, but all of them come back to you needing to be a really strong person and individual. And with that comes support and self-belief.”

Watch the episode to find out more about Josephine’s inspirational business journey.

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