Balance the Physical and Digital: from Sustainable Fashion with Lucie Harrild from comhla (episode 449)

Lucie Harrild is the founder of comhla a new style of one stop shop for more sustainable fashion. Built on Shopify the site went live in July 22 and they are already working with over 20 sustainable fashion brands, and a growing group of repairers too.

Lucie Harrild comhla on eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast

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Dive in:

[04:44] Launching a fashion platform with sustainability focus.
[09:50] Lessons learnt from a challenging pitch.
[14:55] Having different customer profiles.
[17:54] How choice editing makes sustainability accessible and inspiring.
[25:52] Leveraging Canva and teamwork for collaboration and carbon tracking.

About Lucie

Lucie has been involved in sustainability for over 20 years, starting when it was referred to as corporate social responsibility.

After a short stint doing film PR, she shifted to environmental management, which she says has grown and evolved into the sustainability profession.

Transitioning to eCommerce

Lucie says starting comhla was a leap, having felt the need to do something different from the repetitive conversations she had in corporate. And having worked with fashion clients in the past, Lucie decided to focus on the fashion industry, especially due to the challenges exposed during the pandemic.

Lucie noticed that while there were many issues in the fashion industry, there were limited solutions offered to mainstream shoppers who wanted to make more sustainable choices. 

With thorough research and the help of Shopify agency A Few Great Women, she started comhla and built her website, hoping to encourage shoppers to make more beneficial choices in their clothing purchases.

Testing, Learning, and Adapting

Lucie shares that she wanted to move away from pitching ideas off spreadsheets and PDFs, so she launched a website early on to show people what her business is about, which is covered in her mantra “buy well, mend, and extend”.

She also mentions the plan to open a physical store to gather feedback and better understand what resonates with customers. She believes that the business’s growth and success depend on learning from the customers and matching the pace of change with their desires.

Understanding Customer Needs

Lucie says there are so many components in the sustainability arena. There are different customer profiles, including those who are not engaged in sustainability and prefer quick and high-level consumption. There are the big box brands with their linear model, who still have the loudest voice in the industry.

There’s also the challenge of bridging the disconnect and understanding what people truly want, and Lucie highlights the importance of face-to-face contact to gather diverse perspectives and mold them into a meaningful and inspirational marketing strategy.

Providing Choice Editing

While a lot of people have reached a level of awareness where they understand key points about sustainable fashion, Lucie notes that most people don’t want to dive deep into all the details and complexities of sustainability.

She says this is where choice editing can help, alleviating consumer concerns and allowing them to enjoy their shopping experience. At the same time, she emphasizes the importance of making information accessible for those who want to engage in more detail.

The sustainability journey should be easy and enjoyable, and Lucie suggests moving away from bombarding consumers with negative facts and instead highlighting the positive aspects of sustainability.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Email and Pinterest

Tool Top Tip

  • Canva
  • Giki for tracking carbon footprint

*Check out episode 425 where we talk about measuring your carbon footprint, and episode 146 on our sister podcast Keep Optimising, where we discuss zero waste marketing.

Growth Top Tip

  • Focus on your advertising and marketing because this is where you can have hidden carbon footprint.

Interview Links

Related episodes

  • Scaling a Slow Fashion Business with Kristian Hansen (episode 445)
  • Fashion and the Circular Economy with Zoe Rowswell, co-founder of Tern Eco (episode 435)
  • Building a lucrative second hand market with Kalkidan Legesse founder of Sancho’s and Owni (episode 372)

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