This week marks the end of the quarantine, a period filled with both uncertainty and potential. A turning point, we hope, and not a simple step back, to the world as it was “before”. To mark this passage, why not give the floor to young entrepreneurs who actively participate, through their project, in the creation of a different world? We had the opportunity to talk with the two co-founders of the RESAP Paris project, a brand new player on the eco-responsible fashion market, driven by the desire to put people and inclusiveness back at the heart of clothing.
Hello Daphné and Mona! To begin with, can you define your project for us: what is RESAP Paris, and how did the idea for its creation come about?
RESAP Paris is a brand of upgraded second-hand clothing. By “upgraded” we mean: refurbished, retouched, repaired, customized or even upcycled! This includes all the processes that make it possible to make something new with something old. The primary objective being not to produce any new raw material. With RESAP Paris, we would like to instill in our generation the REPAIR & REUSE state of mind, the importance of cherishing what we already have.
Daphné et Mona
RESAP was born above all from the desire to give meaning to our daily lives, to create a p r o f e s s i o n i n accordance with our values and which allows us to have a concrete and positive impact on our society. The idea of its creation was formed as a result of the progressive awareness of the state of the fashion industry, between the catastrophic working conditions and the serious environmental impact… Then over discussions, there was this will to go from observer to protagonist. The more we discussed, the more we learned, the more difficult it was to quell this fierce desire to take action.
Can you both introduce yourself and tell us more about you roles, your contributions to the project?
My name is Mona, I’m 23 years old and I haven’t yet graduated from my engineering studies. I have always been passionate about fashion and fascinated by human relationships. I’ve had several professional experiences in fashion: in a large luxury house, but also for the podcast “Entreprendre dans la mode” by Adrien Garcia. These last ones allowed me to realize that I wanted to have more impact, I wanted to create, to undertake and give birth to a project larger than myself. Today, RESAP Paris is above all for me the possibility of having a voice and being able to express myself stronger in the world we live in. I manage the styling, product development, and communication part of the project.
I’m Daphne, 26, I’m an engineer by training, me and Mona met at school actually. My first professional experience in a bank opened my eyes to my quest for meaning and in particular my desire to contribute to a significant project. Naturally sensitive to the social and environmental struggles of our time, as I became aware of the current state of the textile industry, the call for launching a project in this sector became stronger. Doing business with RESAP is my way of bringing social and environmental justice to a larger scale. Within the project, I am responsible for the relationship with the seamstresses and our partners.
On your website, we can read: “collections made up of second-hand clothes selected and re-valued with love”. How does it work concretely, what are the different steps of the creation of a RESAP collection?
We create like a fashion brand, although we don’t follow their calendars! We create inspirational mood boards based on trends and establish a collection plan. Then, in an upcyling approach, we look for pieces of clothing present in a fairly large quantity on the second hand market, so we can used them as raw material to build our collection items.
We create patterns to be able to propose a sufficient offer. Thus, our pieces from our UPCYCLING range are produced in series, but they are absolutely all unique since for each, the raw material comes from different pre-existing products. For example, this summer, we are going to make white blouses from previously collected shirts. We then complete our collections with a REPAIR & REUSE range, made up of second-hand clothes that we repair. These products are found by us or come from individual donations. Each piece is then carefully analyzed, with the help of a seamstress, before being repaired if necessary. The first REPAIR & REUSE collection was composed of magnificent vintage blazers. Our seamstresses are responsible for doing all this refurbishment and upcycling work. They are incredible! We structure the entire brand and identity of RESAP Paris, but they are the ones who have the know-how and who give life to raw materials or garments.
You define yourself as a “second-hand fashion house”: can you tell us more about this positioning within the eco-responsible fashion market?
“Second-hand fashion house” is for us a name which aims to restore value to the re-use market. The term “house” relates to the world of fashion, because we create fashion above all and we look for beauty and quality. Combining these two terms means demonstrating that secondhand can also be qualitative, chic and based on real knowhow. Today, re-valued secondhand and upcycling must prevail in the new fashion territories. We’re looking to revolutionize this industry, and that starts with deconstructing the existing, recreating a model and changing ways of thinking. “fashion house” and “second hand” are no longer antonyms! From now on, they belong to the same lexical field.
In the main cornerstones of RESAP, there is also a desire to put people back at the heart of clothing. Can you explain to us how this translates concretely, how do you work with your seamstresses?
In fact, inclusion and social diversity constitute one of the cornerstones of RESAP Paris. Behind these notions is the struggle for the inclusion of minorities in France. We want to be actors in this movement, which we know in our daily lives, because we belong to minorities ourselves. Our ambition is to build a model of inclusion without discrimination, and to create opportunities for all. Concretely, we therefore sought to work with seamstresses and designers from all backgrounds: newcomers to France, as well as young and sometimes self-taught talented seamstresses.
Our goal is to create a community with a real social and ethnic diversity and to highlight the talent and skills of people who are not usually in the spotlight. But also to ensure that all these people meet, share and learn together. With these talents, we work in co-construction, collective intelligence being for us a vector of success. We propose, we do not impose. We seek their advice, and above all, we call on their expertise. They are the real gems of RESAP Paris. This is why on the clothes are sewn a label bearing their first name. For us it was important to humanize the product, to allow the final customer to realize that there is a person behind each product. An aspect all too often forgotten in the fashion industry…
Can you tell us more about the SINGA Paris pre-incubation program in which you participated?
SINGA is an association that creates tools so that everyone – newcomers and members of the host society – can build social, professional and entrepreneurial projects. When the idea of working with seamstresses newcomers to France appeared, it was obvious for us to get in touch with SINGA with whom we shared many values. In the pre-incubation program, there is a workshop each week on an entrepreneurial theme to advance your project strategically, financially and legally. It was a great experience where we got to meet other entrepreneurs from all over the world.
You are committed to sharing your entrepreneurial journey with your community. You talk a lot about the concept of “social calling”: for you, what is “starting up in fashion” in 2020?
“Social calling” is a concept that is very close to our hearts, it is this “impulse to act” allowing us to contribute to a better world, a strong concept that brings both of us together. In 2020, doing business in fashion is much more than creating a new way of dressing. It is a convergence of struggles. It is to be a voice, a spokesperson for those who do not have it or who have been deprived of it. A voice that says that today, we must be aware of the impact of our daily purchases, of the fact that they participate in modern slavery or even climate change. We have to wake up and learn to consume differently. It also means freeing up speech, sharing, teaching and thus raising awareness.
If you had to choose one, what advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who are just starting out, like you?
We are still very young entrepreneurs, we started the adventure only a few months ago. But we can already tell you that the importance lies in taking action! For those starting a project, don’t stay locked in on a business plan, confront your ideas with the outside world and take action, even if you are not sure of what you are doing: it is by doing that we advance. Above all, accept that you are a beginner and that everything you do will not be perfect.
The very first RESAP collection was to be presented in a pop-up store launched on March 19, which unfortunately had to be canceled. How, as a young business, did you manage this news and this period of quarantine?
Surprisingly well, even if we were inevitably very disappointed not to be able to launch the first collection and to meet our first customers. We’ve preferred to see this quarantine as a great opportunity to refine our concept and interact with our community. During this period, we were very active on Instagram and we loved organizing our “creative challenges” to encourage our community to get started and produce upcycled pieces themselves from what they had in their closets. These challenges have been very successful. We are very proud to have seen our community grow, progress in sewing and above all, become in turn true upcycling ambassador. Beyond these challenges, we offered content on fashion and its challenges, second-hand, but also on entrepreneurship and personal development.
During this quarantine, we took a step back to look at our project, and we dream even bigger about everything that RESAP Paris could be.
This week marks the end of the quarantine: how do you imagine this “next period” for the world?
We hope that there will be more gratitude, the gratitude of living in a country which under normal circumstances, gives us the right to move freely, to travel all over the world, to see our loved ones… We hope that the we will take more time to appreciate the present moment, to become aware of everything we have. We hope that after this quarantine we will simply be more grateful.
What are your post-quarantine projects, your objectives for RESAP this year?
This year, we aim to create the “RESAP FAMILY”, our collective of seamstresses and experts with whom we are developing the project hand in hand. We seek to form a community of caring people who share the values of RESAP: LOVE, ENHANCE, GATHER. We also programmed the launch of the first collection at the end of July on the theme “white & denim”! We’re crossing our fingers so that we can meet with our customers safely. We can’t wait to share this with everyone, we’re a bit stressed too, but above all very impatient. We thought a lot during this quarantine, we have a lot of new projects intrinsic to RESAP which are being created in parallel, so, stay tuned! There are very beautiful things happening.
Thank you very much, Mona and Daphne, for these motivating and inspiring answers.