Liverpool digital start-up wins global reach tackling the darker side of fashion

Mindless Mag, founded by Laurie Stewart and Eva Makin with the help of Enterprise Hub, is tapping into ‘conscious fashion’, a movement confronting the negative impacts of the fashion industry. Tony McDonough reports

Laurie Stewart
Laurie Stewart, co-founder of Mindless Mag based in Liverpool

 

Few cities claim to be more fashion-conscious than Liverpool so it is fitting that a new online fashion platform that is gaining international recognition should be based here – but this is no ordinary platform.

Mindless Mag, founded by Laurie Stewart and Eva Makin with the help of the Liverpool City Region Enterprise Hub, is successfully tapping into ‘conscious fashion’ – a fast-emerging movement that seeks to confront the negative impact of fashion on the planet and on our everyday lives.

Laurie spent more than a decade working across the world and creating fashion supply chains for major brands such as Shop Direct, New Balance and L’Oréal. She saw first-hand the downsides of the fashion industry.

From pollution to carbon emissions to exploitation of workers in the developing world, not to mention the soulless consumerism that can drive many people to keep buying things they simply don’t need, it is no surprise that Laurie believes the fashion world is “coming apart at the seams”.

Offering a voice

Hence Mindless Mag, an online storytelling platform which aims to give a voice to people to discuss these momentous issues impacting on all of our lives.

Each month, – Laurie and Eva, who is an experienced writer – put forward a theme or topic for discussion. From the perils of fast fashion to the effects of the industry on our mental health, writers can pen their responses and send their contributions in to be published online.

“The fashion industry is one of the largest and most vibrant industries in the world, yet it’s polluting our planet and our minds,” said Laurie. “Mindless Mag was created to make that stop. We create space for a conversation and curate stories that inspire mindful action.”

Their first campaign – Finders Keepers – goes live in August. It will look to challenge our fast-fashion disposable culture and encourage people to buy ‘pre-loved’ clothes and it all be partnering Liverpool’s best loved vintage boutiques, second-hand stores and charity shops.

Laurie and Eva first met at Belvedere School in Liverpool 23 years ago but then went on to forge their separate successful careers. Now they have come back together to pool their skills and experience and the early signs are promising.

They started the business in January 2019 and the first few months were spent streamlining the platform and it is already receiving worldwide attention, with contributions arriving from as far as Australia and the US each month.

Global community

Eva added: “My background is in journalism and digital content, and Laurie worked in the fashion industry so when we decided we wanted to work on a project together, the natural direction it took combined our strengths, and Mindless was born.

“The conversations about the negative implications of the fashion industry were just starting to grow louder, making it into the mainstream media, and the statistics were frightening.

“We wanted to do something to attempt to combat the issues which were being thrown up. We are a global community and we rely on submissions from like-minded people who see what we’re doing and find that our themes resonate with their own experiences and personal philosophies.

“We encourage people who don’t necessarily see themselves as ‘writers’ to answer the questions we put out there because it’s about accessibility, and we want to give a voice to everyone and anyone who cares enough to put their thoughts down and send them to us.”

Eva Makin
Eva Makin, co-founder of Mindless Mag says they want to ‘give a voice to everyone’

 

Hub support

Crucial to that initial push has been the support of the Enterprise Hub, a a single-door access point to advise and support people who had started, or had ambitions to start, their own business, which was launched in 2015 and has so far helped more than 6,000 people.

Laurie and Eva accessed the service via its lead agency, Liverpool’s The Women’s Organisation, which has itself supported tens of thousands of women during the last two decades.

The duo were set up with business advisor Claire Pedersen, meeting with her on a regular basis and attending various training and courses. The had soon nailed down a strategy developing the concept and looking at ways of monetising the platform. 

Laurie explained: “Claire was very knowledgeable and really homed in on the issues which were relevant to our business. She really listened to what we were saying and helped us come up with solutions to help develop and grow our business.

“We attended some of the business growth courses too and the balance of interaction and information throughout these was really helpful”.

Early momentum

With exciting plans and collaborations in the pipeline, attention is now focused on building the Mindless Mag brand and and early momentum. Laurie herself had decided to take the plunge when a highflying job in Hong Kong fell through and she didn’t fancy the prospect of returning to her nine-to-five life.

She added: “The best thing about being self-employed is the freedom, the quick reaction times and the opportunity to try to fail fast which gives me the ability to keep business fresh. Not to mention, no more hierarchies and plenty of opportunities to meet likeminded people.

“We’re very excited to launch our first major campaign, Finders Keepers, which will be a first for Liverpool and will hopefully embed the concept of conscious fashion in our city’s buying habits. 

“We want to bring toxic buying and fast-fashion to end, bucking the trend of high-street “should-haves” and instead getting people excited in investing in one-off “must-haves” – those ethical items with a story to tell which will last a lifetime.”

You can follow Mindless Mag on social media: Instagram – @mindlessmag; Twitter – @magmindless; Facebook – @MindlessMag; Pinterest – @mindlessmag

Click here for more information on Mindless Mag and Finders Keepers and click here for more information about the Enterprise Hub, call 0151 706 8113 or email enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk

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