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As the Fashion For Change program is nearing its end, it’s time to start counting the chickens! Today, we shine the spotlight on a remarkable circular fashion startup that has embraced sustainability to drive positive change in the industry. With our dedicated support, Manufy, an online marketplace that connects conscious brands and sustainable manufacturers from all over Europe, has defined and measured their impact, showcasing a success story that paves the way for sustainable fashion. We asked Manufy’s CEO, Nout Knabben, and sustainability officer, Ruben Petit, to share insights from their impact measurement journey.

We love to challenge startups to think about their impact on the Triple Top Line - People, Planet, and Profit. What would you say is your Triple Top Line impact in a nutshell?

We started Manufy with the belief that we can improve the fashion industry by making local and sustainable production accessible to brands of every size. By doing that, we not only reduce the footprint of fashion but also deliver value to our customers. Easier access to better producers leads to massive cost and risk reduction. Therefore, there is a viable business model where Manufy can make a profit without harming the planet. How great is that!

Moreover, we believe that a strong business model can help impact organizations like Manufy attract more investments and talented people, further enhancing our impact and growth!

Let’s talk about the process of defining your impact. What did you find surprising about your impact during the workshops? What were some of the most useful insights you took away from them?

Manufy is a platform where a variety of production requests are placed every day. Each project has a different kind of positive impact on the fashion footprint. For instance, one brand focuses on recycling and upcycling, while another primarily aims to diminish overproduction by adopting a made-to-order system. In this system, clothing is only produced once it has been ordered by the end consumer.

During the impact workshop, we evaluated different user cases and identified underlying themes of impact at Manufy. It provided us with a clear awareness of the impact we are making on our users. By summarizing all the impact we create on a user level, we reached a point where we can truly understand the total impact that Manufy is making. And here's the beauty: by extrapolating our growth for the coming years, we can clearly envision the kind of impact that lies ahead for Manufy!

How does your impact align with your startup's core values and mission?

Manufy's mission is to create better fashion close to home and establish the foundation for a circular textile industry in Europe. When analyzing our impact, we discovered a significant overlap between our core values and mission. We are able to assist brands in localizing their clothing production, employing fair and ethical labor practices, and prioritizing the use of sustainable materials. Simultaneously, we promote local businesses in the regions where both the brands and manufacturers operate.

Can you share some specific metrics or indicators you use to track progress? How did you use them in your business decisions and overall strategy?

We track the orders that go through the platform and the locations of both the brands and manufacturers. This helps us analyze the distances and overall traction of the platform. Moreover, we review and enhance the production requests of brands, providing them with crucial information to improve their requests, and we observe how many of them then opt for more sustainable production requests.

On the other side, we also monitor the sustainability performance of our manufacturers based on their current and previous operations. We strive to evaluate their sustainability over time and encourage continuous improvements.

The beauty lies in witnessing real-life improvements, such as a factory installing solar energy within 4 months of joining the platform, and several brands transitioning their production requests to better materials (organic vs. non-organic).

What were some immediate actions you took after measuring your impact? Have you noticed any tangible benefits, such as increased customer loyalty, employee satisfaction, or investor interest, from aligning your business strategy with positive impact?

After finalizing our brainstorming session, we identified each individual impact area and determined how to implement it into our different business units within our startup. For instance, we embedded all the information regarding the impact we create for individual users (both brands and manufacturers) in our sales decks, online marketing, and website content. This has resulted in a better inflow of wonderful fashion brands that are eager to produce more sustainably!

How do you communicate your impact data and initiatives to your stakeholders, including customers, investors, and partners?

We conduct weekly webinars for our brands, providing comprehensive explanations about the platform's functionalities and the positive impact it creates for its users. Additionally, we actively engage with our audience on social media, sharing updates on platform improvements and showcasing case studies of successful experiences within our platform.

Moreover, we ensure transparency and accountability by hosting monthly investor updates, sharing key performance indicators (KPIs), highlighting notable clients, and reporting on significant actions taken within the platform. Concerning our partnerships, we closely monitor real-time interactions with third-party collaborations and communicate these insights directly to our partners and stakeholders.

As a startup, how do you balance impactful decisions and the challenges of scaling and growth?

This is always a difficult balance to find, but eventually, we are able to adjust both factors to coincide with each other. For example, some impact decisions might not have a significant revenue upside when first proposed, making it difficult to proceed during times when revenue targets are crucial (such as during fundraising). However, in the long run, it is always better to make impact-driven decisions, even when discussing scaling and growth. Over time, these impact-driven decisions will naturally lead to the best and most valuable outcomes for Manufy.

We are excited to see your “hero’s journey” paving the way toward a sustainable fashion industry! What is your wish for the entrepreneurs in the fashion industry?

There is a lot to be done to reduce the footprint of the fashion industry. The clothing industry has an enormous negative impact on the world, accounting for at least 10% of global CO2 emissions! Bad production methods, overproduction, overconsumption, and various other factors contribute to this negative impact. We need to address each of these issues one by one to minimize the industry's footprint.

At Manufy, we are working to solve a piece of the puzzle. However, there is still plenty of room for other innovators and entrepreneurs to join us in addressing other aspects of the problem. I extend an open invitation to individuals, startups, and fashion companies to collaborate with us and disrupt the fashion industry together!


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How to measure your impact as a startup

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