Spotlight: Stephanie Benedetto the Queen of Raw
Queen of Raw - Utilizing Blockchain to Revolutionise Supply Chain
Completely new to the fashion industry, our startup journey is teaching us a lot about sourcing, manufacturing, and the processes involved in bringing a product to market.
As we discussed in our previous post, the fashion industry is notoriously unsustainable. When you start digging into it, you’ll quickly find that the industry is overdue for a good shake-up.
The good news is, there are a number of startups out there that are doing just that.
Enter Queen of Raw - a company revolutionising the supply chain of the textiles industry by utilizing blockchain technology.
We came across Queen of Raw when undertaking research on sourcing sustainable materials. So, we reached out and were very lucky to have the opportunity to talk with the inspirational Stephanie Benedetto, CEO and Founder of Queen of Raw. Stephanie’s family have been in the textile’s industry for 100 years, and she is now on a mission to make the industry more sustainable by fighting it’s waste crisis.
As consumers, we are addicted to buying new clothes to keep up with ever changing fashion trends. The fashion industry allows us to do this with at some pace, with it’s cheap products with low lifespans. Our excessive consumption has grown into a massive waste issue. In the UK alone, approximately 300,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in landfills each year.
But, it doesn’t end there. Textile waste is an issue at all levels of the fashion industry, from design, through production, to delivery. Perfectly good materials go to waste all the time because of issues such as over production or even a change of heart by designers.
Traditionally, these excess or waste materials would simply go to landfill, or even get incinerated. It makes no sense environmentally to do this, but it makes no sense for business either. Those materials that are being produced just to be thrown away have value. In fact, it’s estimated that there is approximately $100 billion worth of ‘deadstock’ sitting in factories, mills and warehouses at any given time.
What if there was a way to sell those materials, so they could be used for other products, rather than just disposing of them?
Well, that’s exactly the solution that Queen of Raw provide. Their online platform operates as a marketplace to buy and sell deadstock materials and fabrics that would otherwise go to waste. It’s a win win - better for the environment, and better for business too.
Utilizing Technology for Change
Queen of Raw’s online platform utilizes blockchain technology to give integrity and transparency to the materials in their marketplace. This particular use case for blockchain is all about one thing: data.
Tracking data points such as where it came from, any sustainable certifications and where it goes to, enables the platform to provide a holistic view of the supply available.
Queen of Raw aren’t the only company in the fashion space to be utilizing blockchain to track data points of materials. In collaboration with UK designer Martine Jarlgaard, blockchain company Provenance were the first to track a garment with a unique ID through every step of production. The results were accessible via a smart label on the garment, so the consumer could see exactly what the garment was made with and it’s sustainability.
Sustainability - The New S Word
Sustainability means a lot of things to a lot of different people. It has become a buzzword, and unfortunately this makes it hard to truly understand what brands mean by it, especially when it is used as a selling point.
However, when looking at Queen of Raw, their impact is clear. By creating a marketplace for waste, they are enabling manufacturers and suppliers the opportunity to easily keep textiles in use and keep them from landfill. Although the materials may not have been created sustainably in the first place, it’s undoubtedly true that keeping them in use and expanding their lifespan is advantageous. After all, waste isn’t waste until we waste it.
When chatting with Stephanie, she expressed that “the recycling economy is just the beginning”. It’s time for us to focus, and innovate, within a more circular economy model.
The exciting thing is that with growing awareness of sustainability and circularity across industries comes massive opportunity for innovation. It’s a great time for companies and startups to launch initiatives or products that have an impact both socially and for the planet.
When we have more truly sustainable options, as consumers, the ability to live sustainably will be a lot easier than it is today.
What about the future?
Well, hopefully in the future we will have moved towards a circular economy meaning there will be very little to zero waste produced.
WRAP UK have a great, simple definition of a circular economy:
"A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life."
Platforms like Queen of Raw make it easier to keep textiles in production - something we too are incredibly passionate about. Pantee is a conscious intimates brand giving dead and rejected stock a new lease of life by upcycling t-shirts destined for landfill into comfortable and stylish lingerie. To find out more about how Pantee is working with deadstock and integrating circularity into its core, head to pantee.co.uk.