Executives leave big jobs to lead global exodus from fast fashion

Top UK execs among 1,700 applicants for 20 roles as sustainable e-commerce firm Thriftify looks to grow in UK market
Executives leave big jobs to lead global exodus from fast fashion

Rónán Ó Dálaigh, CEO of Thriftify, which is helping social enterprises to build their online presence to serve a growing public demand to move from fast fashion to sustainable preloved clothing.

A leader in the UK e-commerce retail market, successful entrepreneurs and business leaders are among the new recruits joining sustainable e-commerce firm Thriftify.

Dublin-based Thriftify acts as an online retailer for 98% of Ireland’s charity shops, with a strong focus on preloved clothing. Backed by €1.6m from angel investors, the company has big expansion ambitions for the UK market.

The primary goal for Thriftify is to help social enterprises to develop their digital capabilities, building their online presence in order to serve a growing public demand to move away from fast fashion and into the used, sustainable fashion space.

Within a few days of starting its search to fill 20 vacancies, Thriftify has already received more than 1,700 applications. Many among those are seriously experienced executives willing to take a pay cut to work in a more ethical environment, contributing to the circular economy.

“It has been uplifting and humbling to see the calibre of people looking to join us,” said Thriftify CEO, Rónán Ó Dálaigh. “It’s amazing, but not really surprising. People are tired of the rat race and tired of working in environments that are adding to climate change.

“Fashion is a big contributor to climate change. Our goal is to revolutionise the fashion industry, to move from the current destructive economic model to a cleaner, more sustainable model.

“Trying to have a positive impact, it’s a huge responsibility. We have around three years to change the way we are damaging the planet, and what we are doing with fashion is one part of the biggest global challenge currently facing society.”

 Rónán founded Thriftify in 2018, along with Timur Negru and Rahil Nazir. It was then the only dedicated online marketplace connecting charity shops with consumers. It has grown 300% each year since its launch and is currently investing in expansion across Britain.

Thriftify has offices in both Dublin and London and employs 30 people full-time across Ireland, Britain, Moldova, India, Pakistan and Spain. The 20 new hires will be across the tech, e-commerce and sales and marketing sides of the business.

The company has recently signed a €1.6m investment deal, led by the very first HBAN Impact Syndicate, with participation from Themvar VC and leading angel investors, such as Ben Lewis, ex CEO of River Island, all of whom are backing the circular economy and preloved clothing industry.

“To meet our ambitions, we are going to need great people to join us,” said Rónán. “Sometimes meeting people’s salary expectations can be a challenge, but we are seeing people who want to be part of a more impactful model.

“Fashion is a good example of an industry where talented people no longer want to be part of a model that is worsening climate change.

“The people we are just now taking on include a very senior e-commerce manager from a large UK retailer. She is moving from managing a team of 45 people to joining a startup. We are also taking on a very experienced entrepreneur, joining us as our chief growth officer.” 

As part of its UK growth strategy, Thriftify has invested heavily in technology that can automatically value charity shop donations, list them on dozens of marketplaces online, and handle the end-to-end e-commerce journey, including customer care and fulfilment.

The €1.6m angel investment is helping Thriftify bring on board the new talent that it needs to progress its ambitions.

Rónán said: "We've been boot-strapped and lean for a long time and while we'll still stay true to that, we're going to invest in some remarkable new hires and areas that we know are going to generate a major impact, so overall it's definitely the most exciting period in our journey so far.

“The challenge we all face is changing how and why we do business, because from a climate perspective, our economic model is completely broken. Growth for growth's sake has destroyed large parts of our planet and made us unhappier as a society.

“Seeing those with major capital come on board with our radical vision of disrupting one of the largest culprits, the fashion industry, gives me huge hope and optimism."

The Thriftify website is aiming to have all the registered charity retailers in Britain selling on the site by the end of 2023.

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