Tanya is Senior Director of Resale-as-a-Service (RaaS) Client Success at thredUP. She is responsible for building and growing scalable resale experiences for thredUP’s RaaS brand partners – from Clean Out loyalty programs to white-label resale shops. Tanya is a seasoned ecommerce strategy and client success leader focused on sustainability and new business models that bring value to both consumers and brands. Prior to joining thredUP, Tanya held positions at Gap Inc., Ingenuity Foods, Kearney and Clean Currents.
John Shegerian: Get the latest Impact episodes right now in your inbox each week. Subscribe by entering your email at impactpodcast.com to make sure you never miss an interview. This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy. It’s the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit eridirect.com.
John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast! I’m John Shegerian. We have with us today, Tanya Brinich. She’s the Senior Director of Resale-as-a-Service for thredUP. Welcome, Tanya, to the Impact Podcast!
Tanya Brinich: Hi, John. Thanks for having me.
John: Hey, listen. Tanya, I know we’re not sitting together today. You’re in Oakland and I’m in Fresno, but we do have a special shoutout to our common friend, Judy Adler, for putting us together to make this show possible. Thank you, Judy, for making this great introduction. I’m so grateful to you and so grateful that we have Tanya, you on the show today. Before we get talking about this very important topic of clothes and being repurposed, and garment repurposing, can we first hear a little bit from you, Tanya, on your back story on how you even got here? What was your journey like? Where did you grow up?
Tanya: Yes. Absolutely. Okay. Let’s see. Where did I grow up? I grew up in Maryland. I was born in Russia. My parents moved here when I was five. We just kind of like transplanted to the U.S. I grew up in Maryland, and started with a very kind of like modest upbringing I would say. Also, just coming from a communist country, this relationship with shopping has always been really important to me. I remember just going to a store when we first came and being amazed at all of the things, like all of the different kinds of toothpaste, all the different colors of clothing. Going to the mall was like a big deal. Every trip to the mall was a big deal growing up. I think that kind of like informs maybe some of my relationship with consumerism. That has been a thread through my career and my upbringing as well. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do growing up. I knew international relations was important to me, just sort of like the policy aspect of things. I was interested in politics. That’s what I studied in undergrad. I studied International Relations in Hudson International Experience. Then, in the second year of my M.A. program, which I tacked on to my Bachelor’s, it was a policy-focused Master’s. I started trying to understand the impact on the environment and energy issues. I started realizing that when I thought I was going into the public sector and work for a non-profit or work for the U.S. government and make an impact on the environment and energy through that lens, the private sector was doing things much faster and on a bigger scale than the public sector was. I went to work for this clean energy startup called Clean Currents in the D.C. area. It was the most amazing foundational career experience that I could have ever asked for. I can go into a lot of that, but basically, it just kind of solidified my belief that the private sector was the place to be. I felt very energized by the phase of the work and the impact that I was having on the company and the industry at the time, and that really like launched me on this path to finding the intersection of impact and business.
John: I love it. Now, you’re at thredUP. How long have you been there?
Tanya: I’ve been at thredUP actually only six months now. I joined back in April. I came from Gap Inc. That is how I know Judy.
John: Okay. That also gave you a garment background as well.
Tanya: Yes, absolutely.
John: When you’re making that decision going to the wide, I’m sure you have a lot of opportunities in front of you and had options and things of that such, why thredUP?
Tanya: Yes. It’s a great question. I would say like maybe I’ll start with “Why Gap?” I came to Gap because of its sustainability mission. That was when I was so energized and excited to learn about. I still think Gap is doing such amazing things. I think like, for me, ultimately, I was noticing in my own behavior that I was just not feeling great about buying new clothes as much as I love fashion. I love new clothing. I personally try to shift my behavior to do more second-hand shopping. I knew about thredUP for a long time. When this kind of opportunity working with brands in this capacity came across, I was like, “Wow!” This is such an amazing mash of the things I love — brand, fashion, and sustainability, all in one place. Then, honestly, what sealed the deal for me was the conversation with our CEO James Reinhart. He was just super transparent with me about the kind of trade-offs that we have to make from a sustainability angle. There’s not a perfect solution. We’re an e-commerce company, fundamentally. We’re still using plastics to ship packages. Just like the realism with which he took this kind of approach of like we’re trying to make the biggest impact, but there’s no silver bullet. I think he’s a very thoughtful person and he kind of sealed the deal for me as to why this is the best next step for me.
John: You know, before you came on, when I was reading about you and thredUP, I was so excited about the show because, A, I know it’s about a big problem. We’re going to get into that in a second. But B, it’s sort of like a full circle for myself. Because now, I started college at NYU in 1980. Back then, there was this big store that opened up down by NYU that was sort of ground-breaking called The Antique Boutique. It was a big deal. Basically, they had used clothing, and it was always packed. I used to go in there, and I used to marvel at this whole experience of people buying used clothing. The clothing was unbelievably heaping cool. It was the inklings of the beginning of the whole repurposing generation. I mean, this is 40 years ago, 42 years ago now. Talk a little bit about how did thredUP get started and also into the “Why?” How big is this problem of garment waste and the energy that it takes to make new garments, the water that it takes to make garments, the human rights, and the catastrophes that happened that are part of this whole ecosystem? Let’s talk about when did it start and what was the mission then, and where is it now?
Tanya: I love the founding story. thredUP has been around for over ten years now. It started with James, the current CEO, and one of the co-founders, walking into a thrift store in Boston. He was a student at the time. He had a bunch of shirts that he had used, but they were still in great condition. He tried to sell them, and he was turned away. For whatever reason, they didn’t meet quality standards. They didn’t sell men’s items, whatever. He came away from that experience just being like, “I’m not the only person that has experienced that. I have an unmonetized asset in my closet. I am confident that there are others and a huge kind of addressable market here for taking these items that are sitting unused in people’s closets and finding an easy way to bring them to the people that could still make use of them.” I think it was even like less of the sustainability focus in the beginning. It was more of just about like, “How do we continue using this?” As he started digging into it, the sustainability aspect in kind of the waste associated with fashion became a bigger piece of it. The first iteration of the company, I think was like a clothing swap for moms with kids. It was a swap model. Then, there’s been many iterations since. But I think one of the innovations was creating what we call the Clean Out Program, where customers can send in bags of used clothing in whatever condition they want. We sort through them and sell for them essentially through a managed marketplace. Then, the latest iteration, which is the kind of the iteration that I’m working on, is working directly with brand partners and helping brands capitalize on this kind of movement and bring this to the forefront of their brand value proposition — by offering both branded take-back programs or the clean out service that I just mentioned. Then, also setting up re-sell channels where they have a branded shop that they can sell their branded items directly to their customers.
John: Were going to get into that in a second. For our listeners out there who just joined us, we got Tanya Brinich with us. She’s the Senior Director of Resale-as-a-Service for thredUP. You can find Tanya and her colleagues in this very important website that’s doing great things, www.raas.thredup.com. Tanya, how big is this problem of clothing and garment waste? From an environmental sustainability point of view, explain the macro problem before we get into these great services that you’re offering and the division that you came in to run.
Tanya: Yes. Every year, consumers throw away into the trash thirty-six billion items of clothing. I mean, that’s billion with a “B”. It’s a huge number. Fast fashion has exacerbated this problem. Ninety-five percent of those items can be reused, they still have life in them. They’re not like the ruddy gym shorts or whatever that you actually sometimes have to throw stuff away. They’re actually just like a jean jacket that is oversized when the trend is short. And so, there’s just a lot of waste. To your point earlier, that translates into CO2 emissions of producing these items, water, the huge water impact, and just based in our landfills, right?
John: We’re clogging them up when we don’t have to. Wait a second. Step back for one second because these terms are used a lot. Remember, I’m almost 60 years old. Fast fashion, what is fast fashion now? I don’t understand. I’ve heard this vernacular recently, but I’m not familiar with it.
Tanya: Fast fashions are brands and companies that cater to hyper-trend-focused assortments and merchandising. You could think of Shein, H&M, and some other companies that you might be familiar with, where they were refreshing their assortments. It used to be like a traditional retailer would refresh their assortments at no basis, right? You would be like the spring season, and you get stuff out. These companies are doing it on a weekly if not more frequent basis, where there are fresh items posed online into their stores so regularly. As part of that, the marketing around that is getting into this hype of like, “You have to have this piece. This is the “It” piece, and then it’s the outfit of the day.” It’s a daily outfit that’s then discarded. A lot less emphasis on quality, timeless wear, and a lot more emphasis on style and kind of fashion and sort of that, like the fleeting aspects of it, where you have to have the latest trend in for that to be cool.
John: Fast really refers to the amount of the fast turnover of the clothing now?
Tanya: Yes, exactly.
John: It’s somewhat shocking that number is such an eye-popping number in terms of the amount of garments that are tossed away when you think… Growing up with institutions such as Goodwill and Salvation Army, you thought these garments would have places to go that everybody knew about that were being leveraged, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case at all.
Tanya: I think some people are leveraging them. I think what’s challenging there is that a lot of this is folks that might not live near Goodwill. They might not have a car. If you’re buying something, if you’re buying an item a week and you need to clean out your closet, you’re trying to do it in the most efficient way possible a lot of times. Just the scale of which this problem has kind of grown just makes some of these more traditional… We’re all used to convenience now. It’s not super convenient to log a bunch of stuff to Goodwill, to dispose of it. I think that’s one area where thredUP has tried to solve for. It is like making it easier to find a responsible way to recycle and reuse your clothing through our clean out program.
John: Today, I go into my closet and I take out a bunch of clothes that I want thredUP to recycle. Walk us through the process.
Tanya: As a consumer, you can go on to the thredUP website. I’m going to talk about it through our brand lens.
John: Perfect. Go on. Do it through your brand lens. I want to hear exactly what you’re doing at thredUP, with the Resale-as-a-Service also.
Tanya: That’s exactly it. The Resale-as-a-Service platform offers two components. One is the branded take-back program. That is what we do with Gap. Let’s just take that example. I have a bunch of stuff that I am done with in my closet. I put it in a Clean Out Kit, which is either a physical bag that I can get at a Gap store or I can download a shipping label online through a landing page and put in on my old packages, like one of my Amazon boxes. Fill it up with up to 30 pounds of used clothing. Send it back to thredUP. We look through it. We have really high-quality standards of what we actually accept to sell. For anything we don’t sell, it goes into our responsibly-managed after-market program. It’s downcycled into insulation. It’s sent to thrift stores. it’s disposed in an appropriate way. Then, of the items that we do sell, we, actually, will take photographs of those items. We do a quality check like I said. We itemize them. We do measurements. Then, we list them on our marketplace, which has over 35,000 brands to sell.
One thing I didn’t mention, the Gap Clean Out Kit program, you don’t have to pick through and pick only your Gap item. You can send in any brands items through that program. Then, based on the items that sell and the credit that you earn, you then get a gift card back to Gap to kind of use that money that you’ve earned to shop again. It’s a great loyalty driver for brands, and it’s one of the big benefits for the brand. But for the consumer, it’s a way to kind of refresh your wardrobe and dispose or kind of find new homes for your clothing items.
John: It’s a win-win for everybody. The environment wins, and the world is a nicer, better place, cleaner place to be.
Tanya: Yes, exactly.
John: Great. Great, great. Now, talk about the non-consumer side, the business side.
Tanya: Again, what we do on our marketplace is we have a whole list of brands that we have. Just like another marketplace, you can find items based on brand, based on your size, based on other criteria, and based on trends. It’s just millions of items that you can shop as a consumer. We also then work with brands that have their own branded resale shops. An example of that is Madewell. They have a shop that’s called Madewell Forever. It’s a really popular shopping destination where they have only Madewell items in different categories featured on their core site. We will decide for the retailer. One thing I didn’t say earlier, thredUP is like, in addition to being an apparel, a retail, and a recycling sustainability company, it’s a tech company.
Tanya: We got a lot of tech and automation powering the experience that we manage as well as what we do for brands. We build a branded resale shop, essentially, for a company like Madewell, and then customers can go directly to that and browse the assortment of Madewell’s second-hand items in addition to kind of shopping new on the Madewell site.
John: I’m looking at some of these brands here, though. I mean, you’ve got Banana Republic, PacSun, Crocs, Adidas, Athleta, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, and some of the best and greatest brands on the planet. Is this list constantly growing?
Tanya: Yes. This list is constantly growing. I think right now, about 50% of execs, over half of the execs, say resale is a really important part of their strategy in the next five years. It’s a strategic priority along with some of the other buzzwords you’re hearing all the time — omnichannel, personalization, and loyalty. It’s right up there with all those priorities. The list of brands participating in circularity in resale is growing constantly. Our client base has grown tremendously over the last year and is continuing to expand. We’ve got some upcoming big launches. We just launched Tommy Hilfiger. A couple of months ago, we got some other ones coming in the hopper. Then, just generally, this space is growing three times faster than the core power marketplace. Resale is stealing share and share of the closet from some of the other channels that you’re familiar with, like the outlet channel or rental or those types of things where they’re kind of just flat or trending down. Resale is taking that share of closet. I guess it’s no question or no doubt that the brands went into this growth. That’s why we’re seeing a lot of interest, from brands specifically.
John: Isn’t this a continuing of the offshoot of the shared economy, Airbnb, Uber? This is just a natural progression into the apparel industry. That’s what it sounds like to me. But is that truly what it is?
Tanya: Yes. There’s the rental space, which I think was pretty hot a few years ago, or companies run at the runway or actually clothing rental. This is a little bit different because you’re not renting the item. You’re buying the item second-hand. I would say it’s the internet version of what you described with that amazing store, the antique, whatever.
John: Antique Boutique.
Tanya: Antique Boutique. Right.
John: That was the place.
Tanya: It’s like the bringing that thrifting experience to an event to a broader base of consumers and the e-commerce space.
John: You feel good about what you’re doing. I mean, you feel good on the donation side, and you feel good on the buy side. There’s no one that feels bad in this whole equation.
Tanya: Yes, absolutely. We’ve done a lot of consumer surveys about our customers and how they engage with the programs. I think that positive sentiment like the positive emotion of feeling good, feeling like you’ve done something, sort of like being really excited… As I mentioned to you earlier, consumerism in sort of fashion and shopping have always been like really, really important and fun. Like, they’ve been big drivers of fun for me, coming from my background. I think just…
Tanya: …coming to America is like this, right?
Tanya: It’s fun to engage with those things. I think there’s a reason why we love it as a society. This is a way to do it in a way that’s more responsible and more sustainable and the way of the future.
John: Since ESG and circular economy, the shift from the linear to a circular economy is undeniable and unstoppable, Tanya.
John: Why would… If I’m the CEO of one of these fashion brands, whether it’s fast fashion or historical like Tommy Hilfiger, why wouldn’t I be running to the phone to call you because I have to live with shareholders, analysts, if I’m publicly traded, board members, and I have to answer to our circular economy behavior and ESG. Wouldn’t this just be a natural fit for any CEO and that runs a fashion brand today?
Tanya: Yes. I mean, I think you’re right. I think we’re seeing a lot of that. Like, wow, this is inevitable. This is going to happen to… It’s either we leverage it now and we be a first mover in the space…
Tanya: … before anything happen to us. There’s definitely a realization of that. I would say, on the spectrum of companies and their readiness to engage here, there’s some that are prioritizing it and jumping full steam ahead into like how can we, how can we get into this? Some are still worried. Some are like, “Wait, isn’t this going to cannibalize my core business?” Similar to when you had stores and you saw the rise of the internet and e-commerce, it was like, “Well, we’re not going to do e-commerce. It’s going to cannibalize our business. No way.” Now, no one in the right mind would have that mentality, right, as a leader of the company?
Tanya: There’s definitely a spectrum. I’d say, it’s still a nascent economy in this resale space. But I would say more and more leaders and folks that are looking to trends that are out there are seeing this as inevitable and as the way things are headed. It’s shifting in their minds from being a sustainability play, where it might not be like a growth driver, to actually, this is going to be what drives our business. This is going to be core to making sure we continue to grow. We can’t continue to grow in the way we’ve done in the past, where we just pump out a bunch of new stuff and throw away whatever doesn’t sell in that season. We have to find a more sustainable path forward and resale is part of that solution.
John: The brands that are part of your partner network, if they have overruns, overstocks or other clothing that’s imperfect, do you get all those materials as well?
Tanya: We actually focus on… Our primary bread and butter is consumer-to-consumer resale.
John: Got it.
Tanya: I would say that’s not our focus area.
John: Got it.
Tanya: There’s lots of other companies that do that. It’s something that we can do on a limited scale, but we don’t want that to be the focus of the resale space.
John: How many competitors do you have in this space? Because I don’t know of any, but that doesn’t mean I know the business.
Tanya: Yes. I’d say, it’s a pretty active marketplace right now. There’s a number of companies operating. There’s lots popping up every day.
Tanya: I’m a little biased, but I will say of the players in this space, we’re the only ones that have 10 years of experience…
Tanya: … and run our own marketplace.
John: You’re the leading brand right now?
Tanya: Yes. What I’m talking about specifically is the resales of service space.
Tanya: I think we actually own the trademark Resale-as-a-Service.
John: Pretty cool.
Tanya: There’s other companies offering that, but I think we were the first.
John: You mentioned the rental business before. Is that flat, a little bit down, or is that still rising as well? Because that could be considered part of the shared economy as well.
Tanya: Yes, I think that’s gone down. There was just a really big hype around that and it went down a little bit in recent years. I think with the pandemic especially where some of that formal rental dropped off. I actually don’t know what the trends have been over the last year as some of that has picked up. But I think, just generally, it’s been a little bit down over time.
John: Got you. Talk about like one of your normal day in life. Well, if I wasn’t interviewing you today, what’s your day like today at thredUP?
Tanya: Oh, man. My day, I can’t say that there’s like a typical day, but I will say, we have a pretty interesting and amazing work culture here. On Mondays, we have our team meetings, where we have our executive team meeting, and then we have what we call our marketplace meeting, where we learn about sort of just general trends and the health of the business. Monday, sort of like, get focused on metrics, get focused on priorities for the week, and align on what’s happening. Tuesdays are what we call maker days, so we try not to schedule meetings on Tuesdays, any kind of internal meetings at least, and try to do heads-down work. Yesterday, I was working on our forecast and building out some of our assumptions around our financial forecast. I also don’t have the luxury of not having external meetings on Tuesdays, so I often have check-ins with clients every day of the week. Whenever I can squeeze those in, I meet with all of our clients, at least on a quarterly basis, and some of our bigger brands and meeting with them, monthly, or weekly.
John: Let’s talk about that. Post-pandemic, are most of your check-ins still like this or some of them becoming in person as well?
Tanya: Yes, great question. Most of my client meetings have been like this.
Tanya: We’ve had a few opportunities to give clients tours of our warehouses or just do conference-type meetings. I would say those are just so valuable. I feel a little bit more of a close connection when I get to meet someone. I’m sure it’s reciprocal, so any opportunity I have to meet with a client in person, I snap it up. But most of our regular meetings have been virtual still.
John: Got it. How many people… You’re talking about your great culture before we get… I want to hear about Wednesdays because obviously Wednesday is polka dot Wednesdays.
Tanya: Polka dot Wednesday. Yes, Wednesday’s actually an office day.
John: Perfect. How many people work for thredUP?
Tanya: We have actually, [inaudible] top of my head. Approximately, in our corporate functions, I think we’re like in hundreds.
Tanya: It’s pretty small. And then across our D.C. base, there’s obviously thousands of employees working in our fulfillment centers.
John: Got it. Your centers roll across the United States?
John: Is this eventually a model that could be taken international?
Tanya: Yes, we actually do have international operations in Eastern Europe. We acquired a company in Eastern Europe in 2021. We are operating there and a company in Latin America that we have a stake in as well.
John: Let’s go back to your typical day. Besides polka dots, what else happens in Wednesdays in the office? Wednesdays, everyone’s in the office.
Tanya: In office Wednesdays. Yes. That’s when I have my team meeting. That’s a fun time. Usually, just try to catch up on clients and communications in between those meetings. But I try to have all my face-to-face meetings with folks that are located in the Oakland area on Wednesdays. That’s always really fun. Today, we had an All Hands. Our whole company All Hands was today. Then we usually do some fun like lunches or happy hours on Wednesdays, too. Then Thursdays are the end of our week, we’re wrapping up our work. We have a four-day work week. Fridays are a time to catch up, if you want to, or to just treat it as a weekend day. I’ve honestly have found myself to be like I don’t even know how many more times productive with a four-day work week because I do end up working on Fridays often, but it’s catch-up work. I get to like have that mental headspace of I’m not going to have a hundred internal meetings on a Friday. Then like, take me into my weekend.
Tanya: I’m having client meetings if I need to, but it’s also just planning, focus time and reflection.
John: Like you said, this is a nascent period for a whole circular economy taking hold in that generational shift from linear to circular economy. Apparel is a big part of it because apparel, obviously, is a big part of what the problem was in terms of landfills and sustainability. How big is your hit list? You must come into work and you must have a hit list of brands that you want to partner with.
Tanya: Oh, yes.
John: Pretty wide and big.
Tanya: Yes. Hundreds of thousands.
Tanya: We have a sales team. My counterpart, who is the head of sales, on Monday is another meeting. We have our pipeline review report, where we’re going through the list of companies that we’re approaching and targeting. Like I said, this interest and growth in this space are white hot right now. There’s still a lot of education to be done. While people may have heard like you of like circularity, what does it mean practically to me as a brand? That’s a question executives still are really grappling with. Even if they’re like, “Yes, yes, I know what that is.” They’re like, “Wait, but what?” like, “What is it? What do I do?” I think we’re still doing a lot of education around that.
John: When you were taking this job, obviously, anytime anyone makes a big life decision and takes on a new career path, it’s a big decision. What unexpected good things are happening that you never even expected six months ago before taking this position?
Tanya: Yes. I’m just getting so much closer to tech and so much closer to kind of like the engineering side of things, the product side. I think that’s something that I really value. I love that intersection of retail and technology. Even in my prior roles, that what I was interested in and what I sought out. But at a company like thredUP, which is more of “We’re a public company, but we still have a scrappy startup mentality.” You’re just close to things. There’s a lot of transparency. There’s a lot of communication, and a lot of access to decisions that are being made, how things are being done. I talk to my engineering counterpart, my product counterpart almost every day.
Tanya: It’s really cool to be able to say like, “Hey. I just got this feedback from a client. What can we do about it?” People be like, “Oh, I already did that.” Like I took your feedback and I made this change, it’s alive. That’s like mind blowing to me still.
John: Right. It’s a lot of gratification and really fast. You don’t have to wait to get into a tech queue where, “Oh, we’ll solve that a year from now,” meanwhile, you’ll get 10 other client complaints along the way.
Tanya: Yes, exactly. Yes. I think there’s still things that are like, “Okay. These are big. We have to prioritize and get them into the tech queue, but small things,” people just jump on them and fix them.
John: Talk about the future. You’re six months in, so you really have… Now, you had your rookie stage, and now, you really got your sleeves rolled up, so to speak. What’s going to happen in the months and years ahead for thredUP? What’s the vision and what are you super excited about?
Tanya: Yes, I think we’re talking a lot about our growth plans and what’s next. We have a lot of just products. Like I was just talking about, a lot of product enhancements on the roadmap. Building tools to make these programs easier for brands to manage, more integrated with other brand offerings like their loyalty programs, and just building out other functionality. Letting brands bring this experience into their stores more seamlessly. I’m really excited about that. I think that’s the new features. Adjusting the program and growing the program is one thing. Then, also just like working with more brands, increasing the number of partners we have, how we work with them, what we offer them, and how we help them grow. I think that’s another. For me, personally, talking to our existing clients and saying, “Hey. Here’s where you are. What are your goals? I think you can get to two X.” I get to push them and be like, “What’s stopping you from having 1% of your customers, 10% of your customers engage with this?”
John: Truly, this is, in terms of… If we were looking at this industry and this opportunity as a baseball game, you’re in the top of the second, bottom of the first, top of the third. Where are we?
Tanya: Oh, God. I am like a terrible sports fan. We’re at the beginning of the baseball game for sure.
John: [inaudible] the first or second inning?
Tanya: I would say for brand-led resale, yes, we’re at the beginning. For thredUP and our expertise in resale in general, we’re further along, right? We’ve got 11 years under our belt. We’ve figured some stuff out. We’ve tried some business models. We’ve iterated. It’s a cool combination of like being in sort of this like new business line within the company and then having the experience of the broader and larger company behind us.
John: Your CEO walks in your office after this interview and he says to you, “Guess who just called me, guess what brand just called me?” What brand are you hoping rolls off of his tongue? What’s your dream brand to get this year?
John: But I’ll give you away any secrets.
Tanya: Yes, I mean, it’s hard. We’ve definitely got some in the hopper.
John: Okay. I don’t want to put you on this.
Tanya: I don’t know if I can answer that one.
John: Okay. No, that’s okay.
Tanya: My dream brand is in the hopper.
John: Okay. Good. But obviously, there’s a lot going on. That’s the fun part.
Tanya: Yes, there’s definitely a lot going on.
John: Again, this is a no-brainer from the CEO. Any apparel brand, big or small, this is the place I want to be.
Tanya: Yes, absolutely.
Tanya: Yes, it’s very true. I think I would say the one thing I haven’t really hit on for a value proposition for brands is one of the things that a lot of brands are struggling with is how to appeal to a younger consumer and how to be more relevant. This is where younger consumers are focused. They care about sustainability.
Tanya: They’re thinking about the planet in their decisions, and they’re already thinking secondhand first. They’re already thinking how can I get something thrifted. That’s cool. To any brand that’s maybe trying to increase it’s relevancy or is already relevant with a younger customer and wants to just stand behind its values, this really is an important aspect of the play here.
John: That’s a brilliant point because they grew up with Uber. They grew up with Airbnb. Very all normalized. The shared economy is normalized to the new buying generation. I think you’re so spot on. That is such an important point. I know we have a couple of plugs I want to make. Talk a little bit about the Recommerce 100. Talk a little bit about that and why that’s important.
Tanya: Yes. The Recommerce 100 is a survey that we’ve been conducting since the beginning of this year. We’re publishing a list of brand-led resale shops along with the number of items listed just to bring awareness to how brands are engaging here. Since we started running this survey, we started with 40 brands on that list. Now, this month, this is a little spoiler alert, it’s likely that we’re going to top a hundred. We’re actually going to get to that Recommerce 100.
John: That’s huge.
Tanya: Just tracking that growth shows and illustrates how this is taking off.
John: People could find that at recommerce100.com. Talk a little bit about your annual resale report, why that’s important, what’s in there, and what people should be looking for if they want to find it and download it?
Tanya: Yes. I can’t recommend it more as a resource. I actually read the resale report years before I joined thredUP. We’ve been publishing it for 10 years.
Tanya: This most recent one, which came out in April, is our 10th edition. What’s cool about that is that you can see trends year over year and how things have evolved. There’s like different formats of it for brands or for investors or kind of the general report. There’s just tons of information there. We work with a company called GlobalData. It’s a third-party polling firm, where we actually collect and conduct consumer research to inform this. You can find information about the growth of the resale channel, some of those stats that I quoted to you about, where different segments are taking share and growing. They’re all in there over time. Consumer attitudes by generation, thrifting behavior by different geographies. That’s a fun one. What’s popular in what area of the country? What are the segments that we see? There’s just a wealth of stats and information there. I think it’s a great primer on what’s happening in resale and what’s happened over time. Then, also just a really good place to look if you’re in a company or that you want to make a case for resale, it’s the place to be.
John: Got it. People can find that at thredup.com/resale. That’s where that report resides. When you’re making deals with these brands and bringing these brands on with your sales team, who are the decision-makers on the other side? Is it the CEO or is it the brand manager? [inaudible] Who should we be giving a shoutout or to be called dialing your digits?
Tanya: Yes, it’s interesting you ask that. It’s actually pretty fascinating since this is usually a pretty visible aspect of a brand, how they show up to a customer. It often does go all the way up to the CEO for approval. It’ll start with usually a brand manager, someone in sustainability, someone on the marketing side, or growth in the growth department.
John: Got it.
Tanya: Then, it’ll make its way through because it’s a cross-functional effort and it does often require sort of leadership and buy-in from the very top. I think where we’ve seen the most success is companies that have that, where there is the CEO that says, “This is important to us. We’re going to prioritize it.” Not just sign the contract, but also say, down the road, that we’re going to keep this as a priority for our brand.
John: Got it. For our listeners and viewers, if you want to find Tanya and her colleagues and get your brand to sign up to the thredUP, go to www.raas.thredup.com. Tanya, you are amazing. I’m so glad Judy introduced us. I’m so thankful that we get to put the thredUP word out there. You guys are making a tremendous impact. I’m just honored to have you on the show. You’re always welcome back with any other announcements or updates and list all the new brands that signed up because that’s what should be happening. They should be piling in right now. Just grateful for you making the world a better place.
Tanya: Thanks so much. It’s been awesome to talk to you, John. Really appreciate it. Thanks again.
John: This episode of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts, and impact partners. Closed Loops platform spans the arc of capital from venture capital to private equity, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. To find Closed Loop Partners, please go to www.closedlooppartners.com.