Jo Boon: What was the inspiration behind Nu?
Aisling Byrne: Ali and I co-founded Nu after we had spent some time in India during university, and saw first hand the devastating effects that the fast-fashion industry has on people and the environment. As broke students, we really wanted to change our habits, but the more we researched, the more we realised how limited the solutions and alternatives were to fast-fashion when you are on a tight budget. So, we decided to start running swap shops, an inexpensive and fun way for people to change up their wardrobe which also reduces waste! From there, Nu has transformed into an active sustainable fashion community, we run all kinds of fashion events from upcycling workshops to documentary screenings to panel discussions. This September we will be launching our very exciting online clothes sharing platform. It will be a social network for (firstly) university students to share their clothes empowering them to save money and reduce waste! We hope that once the trial is complete that we can launch the product to the general public.
JB: Who are the core team involved in the project?
AB: Our team has grown a lot over the last year!
Aisling the CEO.
Lucy our creative director.
Vanessa leads our tech team.
Freya, Melie, and Ana work on PR, communications, styling and help to build the brand ambassador network.
Ali, Nu co-founder who is growing the Nu community in the UK.
JB Why is the project called Nu?
AB: We want to redefine what it means to have a ‘new’ piece of clothing. Each time you want to wear something different, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to buy something brand new. By borrowing, swapping or thrifting any piece can be ‘new to you’.
JB: What have been the highs and lows of the experience so far?
AB: Running Nu is an amazing experience, and I think the reason it has been going from strength to strength is because everyone involved has such a sense of purpose and passion for what we are trying to achieve. There will always be low points, but we really really believe in making the fashion industry more sustainable and more ethical so anything we’re having difficulty we always just go back to why we started Nu and it’s just so motivating to keep going!
There has been plenty of rejection in terms of funding which is sometimes hard to take, and setting up a business can often be pretty scary. There is a lot of risk involved and that can leave a constant pressure in the background as you try to get the business off the ground. The lows can be tough because as an entrepreneur it can be difficult to separate your life from your ‘job’ but you get used to it and it gets a lot easier to shake off mistakes and keep going.
In a total turn around, I honestly think one of the best highs was when I did decide to just go for it, leave my job and see what happens! Everything we have achieved so far as a team just feels so amazing and every week we are reaching a new milestone and shocking ourselves. I think one of the best moments was when we opened applications for brand ambassadors and we received submissions from around the world. It was just such a brilliant feeling that we had created something that so many wonderful and talented people wanted to be a part of.
JB: What are your hopes for the future of the project?
AB: There are two different aspects of Nu that we are hoping to grow. Firstly the nu community. We are hoping to set up nu communities all over the world where a team of 6-8 can work together to run sustainable fashion events of any kind with the support of Nu. It’s all about getting sustainable and ethical solutions out there in a fun, stylish and engaging way.
Secondly, we are launching our online clothes sharing platform. During the trial stages this will be available to university students and alumni we then hope to branch out to the local area once we have built the final platform.
Through both Nu communities and the online platform, our goal is to provide sustainable and ethical alternatives to fast-fashion that are accessible to all, no matter what your budget, and in the process to educate people on the harms of fast-fashion and to significantly reduce garment waste.
JB: How can people get involved?
AB: We’re currently recruiting university students and recent graduates to become Nu brand ambassadors. You can apply from anywhere in the world. Anyone who is interested in fashion or the environment we would love to have you on the team! Here’s the link: www.thenuwardrobe.com/brand-ambassador-application
If you would like to set up a Nu community in your local area please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d love to chat to you!
JB: If you had to sum up Nu in ten words or less how would you describe it?
Empowering people to make a positive impact through fashion.
JB: What do you most want people to know about Nu?
AB: Nu is a sustainable fashion movement that we want people to join. When you signup to Nu, attend an event or follow our content you’re not just engaging with a brand, you become part of the community of people who want to see changes in the fashion industry and who want to help create that change. Join Nu!