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Mariola Marcet, winner of the Wayco 2022 scholarship

Mariola Marcet, winner of the Wayco 2022 scholarship

Mariola Marcet, winner of the Wayco 2022 scholarship

13/12/2022

Mariola Marcet, ganadora de la beca Wayco

 

“As the song by Mueveloreina says: I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m going. I know that where I am now I’m fine, but I don’t rule out living somewhere else”. Mariola Marcet (València, 1987), founder and CEO of sustainable fashion platform Upcyclick, begins her interview as winner of the Wayco grant 2022 with a musical reference that presages a great talk.

If musically, Mueveloreina mixes trap with tropical sounds; professionally, Mariola mixes critical and creative thinking with an angelic appearance.

 

Which book did we find on your bedside table?

Fashionopolis, by Dana Thomas. It is very interesting because it explains how we have arrived at the current fashion situation and other alternatives that are emerging around the world.

What is this ‘current fashion situation’ you speak of?

The European Union disposes of 5.8 million tonnes of clothes and textiles a year, and globally, we throw away 2.1 billion tonnes of clothes. Most of it is sent to Africa, and we justify it by saying that the poorest continent needs free clothes. But in 2017, it emerged that the East African Community (EAC) – a partnership comprising Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan – imported $234 million worth of used clothing. And the rest of our surplus? In the landfill.

These data show a waste of natural resources linked to the textile industry. Was this what encouraged you to found Upcycling, a sustainable fashion company? Did you want to change the industry from within?

It all started as a hobby organising clothes swaps. One day I opened my wardrobe and I realised that, despite being full and even with new clothes, I had the feeling that I had nothing to wear. I thought that many people would feel the same and I started to organise events every 2 or 3 months to exchange clothes and have a good time listening to music and meeting new people and new places. I also had the opportunity to meet many talented Valencian people who collaborated on the flyer and lookbook, from photographers to illustrators and graphic designers. But that was 10 years ago….

When I had my first child, I no longer had time for hobbies, but I had entered a world that I was passionate about and that I didn’t want to leave behind: the world of sustainable fashion. So I decided to quit my job at the interior design studio where I was working and try to make the project profitable.

It was then that I applied for an acceleration programme for social projects of the Social Nest Foundation. And this programme gave rise to Upcyclick, which won the award for the most impactful startup. The award allowed me to start the project, which began as an online platform to connect fashion lovers people who want to transform garments from their wardrobe with fashion makers people who can carry out these transformations, such as seamstresses, dressmakers, designers, etc.

What does Upcyclick mean?

Upcyclick is a play on words. Upcycling is different from recycling in that it improves the condition of the new product that is created – many people are unaware that when you recycle, the quality of the product goes down.

Moreover, we do not use industrial processes. What we do is apply the design to improve these garments: by sewing, we add or remove material components and sometimes we also apply paint to improve or personalise the garment and remove possible stains or damage.

And with this business model, are your customers more companies or individuals?

Both, actually. We work with many companies to help them achieve the objectives established in their Corporate Social Responsibility, through various actions: when they have to create a product, for example, we take care of making it in a sustainable way or we help them put the waste they generate back into circulation. This is the case of Norauto, which had some uniforms that it no longer used because it changed the logo and we proposed to make a tote bag for the employees themselves to use.

 

And do you have customers within the textile industry itself?

We have the case of a large company like C&A with which we have done customisations for customers in the shop and workshops for workers, in which we explain upcycling techniques to them.

 

Given that you spend a lot of time in workshops, events and trainings, how does coworking fit into your working model?

It fits about 50-60% of my time. I have a lot of computer work related to the organisation of everything you mention and dedication to social media.

 

What has the Wayco scholarship given you so far?

The Wayco scholarship has given me a quiet space to work close to home. On a professional level, I have found very interesting the breakfasts and other events organised to network and connect with other people and projects.

WayCO is a space that I’ve known since it started in Valencia and I’ve always felt that there was a very good vibe and that a lot of social things were being done, I wanted to be part of the community.

 

Video of Mariola Marcet’s interview in Wayco Abastos

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