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Meet Nicole Robertson of Swap Society in Mar Vista

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Robertson.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Nicole. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved fashion, but when I learned the truth about the fashion industry, it changed my life forever. I transformed from a fashion addict who shopped for clothes for fun, to a sustainable fashion advocate who stopped buying “new” clothes nine years ago. Okay, so I’m probably still considered a fashion addict, except now I only wear secondhand clothing.

Today we buy more new clothing than ever and wear it for half as long. Our throw-away culture goes beyond single-use disposable bags, bottles, cups, straws, and cutlery. For many of us, our clothing has become disposable too. This behavior has dire consequences for the planet and for the people who make our clothes.

The apparel industry is the world’s second largest water polluter, puts more carbon into the atmosphere than all international flights and maritime shipping combined and exploits millions of people around the globe. Textile waste is a massive problem too. Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. We are ravaging the earth of its precious resources to make clothes we may never wear, polluting our environment along the way, and creating an enormous waste problem. This take-make-dispose linear model must change, and I am working to bring circular fashion to women across the United States with my company Swap Society.

Has it been a smooth road?
When I had the idea for Swap Society I had an infant and a toddler at home, so that has definitely made this a wild ride. Raising little ones while also juggling the demands of a startup company is without a doubt the craziest thing I have done. I feel very fortunate to have such a supportive partner in both business and in life. I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my husband Edward. He’s the brains behind the points system and helps keep me sane when I am feeling overwhelmed. He’s also the ultimate super dad and I am grateful every day for my family.

We have also experienced typical startup frustrations such as technical delays and growing pains. Our warehouse is busting at the seams and we need more space, but finding affordable real estate in Los Angeles is practically impossible, so we are currently focused on figuring that out.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Swap Society is the only online clothing swap that gives you equal value for your clothes. Members swap women’s and kids’ clothing and accessories with other women across the United States from the comfort of their own homes. Our members send us the clothes that don’t fit, that aren’t their current style, or that they bought but never wear, in exchange for points they can use toward new pre-loved clothes of equal value. Swap Society uses a proprietary algorithm to assign a fair point value to each garment received. Instead of markups, everything ordered from the site costs points plus a per-item fee of $3.99 or $4.99 depending on membership type. We accept all brands, including garments without tags, so long as they are in good condition. Members can spend their points on thousands of high-quality women’s and kids’ items without having to buy something new.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
In some ways, Los Angeles is the perfect place to start a business like Swap Society.
LA is a progressive city that is becoming a hub for sustainable fashion, and the local community has been extremely supportive of what we are building. On the other hand, the cost of doing business here is extremely high. We love LA and would love to stay, but as we grow, it seems unrealistic to think that we can continue to warehouse our goods here over the long term.

Pricing:

  • Everything ordered from our site costs points + a per item fee of $3.99 (LUXE members) or $4.99 (BASIC members)
  • LUXE memberships cost $12-$19/month and include free shipping both ways.
  • BASIC memberships are free.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Family pic by Cliff Fong of LA Kids Photography. Event pics by Laura Palladino.

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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