STAND Up!: La Boutique Sociale, a social entreprirse working on zero waste in Lebanon
“We applied to the STAND Up! Program since we believe in sustainability and want to be part of the circular economy.” These are the words by Feyrouz Hatoum, Head of Charge from La Boutique Sociale, which is one of the four fashion and textile start-ups receiving incubation support in Lebanon by Berytech, the Lebanese partner. “We benefited from the training sessions in developing and enriching our journey towards sustainability”, she adds.
La Boutique Sociale is a social entreprise working on zero waste in textile by doing upcycling and recycling. They collect unwanted donated clothes and items and sort them into different categories to be reused in different ways: selling pieces in very good conditions to vulnerable people at a very low price, while pieces that are in a bad condition are upcycled in their outlets.
Its mission is collecting and sorting second hand clothes and raising awareness to help people in need. Currently they’re present in Beirut, Taanayel and Halba. “Our value proposition includes minimising waste, increasing employment by providing opportunities to people with difficulties and empowering women”, says Hatoum. At the core of their operations they also aim at providing job opportunities for fresh graduates in fashion design.
Since they’re already an existing project, their collecting and sorting systems already exist, in addition to 3 open outlets. “Our work has allowed us to create employment opportunities in the fashion industry in Lebanon”, she underlines. They also work with a Central ‘Hub’ Boutique in Lebanon that systematizes the entire operation targeting zero waste of clothes.
Celine Majdalany, who is the Communications Officer at La Boutique Sociale, explains that in their marketing plan they want to expand their work to an e-commerce platform, which will sell vintage and upcycled items. In addition to this, they want to implement their pop-up shops as movable containers across different regions in Lebanon.
The compound impact of the economic crisis and COVID-19 has brought them additional clothes donations from abroad while also increasing their sales activities. To accommodate this change, they created a bigger space to be able to receive more donations, remaining open during the lockdown to keep up with operations, and even increased their donations to people in need.
They’re currently receiving additional business and financial support through the STAND Up! Growing Innovation Program to become more competitive and seize business opportunities in the Mediterranean. “We’re hoping that by the end of the program we launch our e-commerce platform and develop a business plan that helps give us a clearer understanding of our costs and operations”, comments Hatoum.