Evelyn Cahill, the Founder and Director of Style Carousel, is on a mission to revolutionise sustainable fashion. Her brainchild is more than just a fashion platform – it is a curated circular shopping marketplace. 

In a world consumed by fast fashion, Style Carousel is a refreshing alternative for trendsetters. It is a place to explore new styles, find daily inspiration, and embrace luxury, all while being kind to the planet. Founder Evelyn Cahill’s commitment to sustainability is not just a mission; it is a fashion revolution.

Style Carousel has the potential to change not only the way we dress, but how the industry operates. The platform encourages us to rethink our fashion choices and their environmental impact.

In this exclusive interview with Hive Life, we dive into Evelyn Cahill’s inspiring venture, the birth of Style Carousel, and the significant impact it is making on sustainable fashion in Asia. 

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What Inspired You to Come Up with the Concept for Style Carousel?

Living in Hong Kong, I worked as a lawyer in Central, attending numerous networking events and occasions. However, it was challenging to keep up with fashion trends in such a [fast-paced] city. My personal style is classic, but I often found myself wearing the same outfits repeatedly, not because I wanted to but due to limited options. Time constraints made it difficult to keep up without feeling wasteful.

I noticed that many women in a similar situation turned to fast fashion, [compromising sustainability]. I believed this was not their preference but rather a lack of better options. My team’s goal was to create a platform where women could access and wear quality pieces without the hassle, cost, and waste of constant purchasing.

With Style Carousel, we aimed to recreate the [experience] of entering a favourite boutique and enjoying clothing without the need to buy it. This approach addressed the issue of not fully utilising garments, which is a common challenge for many women.

Our primary task was to connect women with the brands and styles they loved. At that time, circular fashion was not something most brands wanted to engage in, as it was a costly and complex endeavour for individual retailers. We saw an opportunity to use technology to [revolutionise] the way fashion was consumed and make it easier for designers and retailers to enter the circular market.

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What Are Some of Style Carousel’s Key Features?

Style Carousel provides a [user-friendly] platform for women to access their favourite designer fashion labels and discover new ones, with the flexibility to either rent or buy, based on their preferences. We prioritise convenience, ensuring that our platform is easily accessible to all users. Affordability is another cornerstone of our approach, making sustainable fashion accessible to a wide range of shoppers. We offer the convenience of door-to-door delivery and hassle-free return collections, [aligning with modern online shopping expectations].

One of our core missions is to serve as a gateway for shoppers to connect with merchants offering circular fashion options. This includes collaborations with large fashion retailers, boutiques, and independent designers, helping them adopt circular practices if they haven’t already.

We actively promote responsible consumption by encouraging users to consider renting before buying. Our emphasis is on envisioning the entire lifecycle of a product before making a purchase decision, reducing unnecessary waste. 

We are committed to sustainable practices in our operations, minimising packaging with no tissue paper or plastic bags. All deliveries use reusable canvas totes crafted from recyclable materials. Additionally, we prioritise eco-friendly transportation methods, utilising walkers and bikers where possible, especially in Hong Kong’s [compact urban environment].

What sets us apart from traditional thrift stores or resale platforms is our [online nature]. We act as a tool connecting shoppers directly with brands and boutiques to rent items from their collections. This allows us to offer a single destination for the latest trendy brands and classic pieces from luxury brands like Chanel, Gucci, or Valentino.

Our operational model offers a turnkey solution and a network of customisable microservices that merchants can select based on their goals and objectives. We typically do not require stock allocation, and our fully managed service includes reverse logistics and a specialised regional team. We have partnerships with brands globally, spanning London, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and America, enabling women to discover and enjoy a wide array of the latest designer pieces.

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When You Were First Starting Out, How Did You Build Your Network of Retail Partners? 

When we initially launched our beta product, it [coincided] with the onset of the pandemic. We thought it was a good opportunity to put our product out there and gather early feedback to understand what people truly wanted. Undoubtedly, we faced numerous challenges, typical of any startup, but the [unique circumstances] of the pandemic added to the complexity. However, we observed a significant shift in the community towards the online space and social media as Hong Kong began to physically close up. This digital collaboration mindset [worked in our favour], allowing us to extend our reach globally.

Our model heavily relies on collaboration with global partners, and during this time, it became perfectly acceptable to engage with partners remotely through tools like Google Meet. This shift eliminated the need for traditional face-to-face meetings, making international partnerships more accessible and cost-effective. Today, even as we communicate via Google Meet, it’s considered entirely professional and acceptable.

Regarding introducing our company mission, it was a straightforward process. From the outset, our dedication to bringing about change in the fashion industry and improving the way fashion is consumed was crystal clear. Establishing open and transparent communication with our partners was paramount. We ensured alignment in our commitment to sustainability, actively listening to their feedback. This feedback-driven approach allowed us to continually develop the tools necessary for our partners to meet their sustainability goals and targets, reinforcing our mission to improve the fashion industry.

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How Do You Ensure That the Boutiques, Independent Designers, and Labels Featured on Style Carousel Align with Your Sustainability Values?

The beauty of our platform lies in its ability to offer all retailers in the women’s fashion space the opportunity to embrace sustainability. We [don’t believe in limiting brands based on their past sustainability practices]. Instead, we offer a free solution that [eases] the transition towards a more sustainable path. We’re here to support them and take on a significant portion of the work. Importantly, we don’t require additional production or stock allocations, making it accessible to a wide range of partners.

Our platform provides a turnkey solution that can be up and running within minutes. We acknowledge that our partners are at different stages of their sustainability journey, and we aim to support them in their efforts. 

To assist our partners, we offer a range of analytical tools. These tools help them better understand their circular market clients and allow us to take a customised approach to [identify areas for improvement]. For instance, we help brands understand the receptiveness of certain products or the lifespan of materials in their garments. We collaborate with smaller brands and boutiques eager to enhance the longevity of their clothing and facilitate recycling processes. These brands often lack the tools to make these improvements, not due to a lack of desire but because of limited options.

As more brands embrace circular options and recognise circularity as the future of fashion, we collectively contribute to making a meaningful change in the industry as a whole. [Together], we can have a substantial positive impact on the fashion industry’s [sustainability landscape].

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How Do Sustainable and Circular Practices Benefit the Environment While Fostering Growth for Fashion Businesses? 

As we’ve witnessed Gen Z leading the way in sustainable fashion, it has become imperative for fashion businesses to remain relevant and adapt to the changing consumer landscape. Initiating sustainable practices now is not only a step towards environmental responsibility but also a means to align with the evolving demands of consumers. By connecting with the rapidly growing market [through Style Carousel], fashion businesses can gather early feedback and gain a deeper understanding of what this market truly desires. This process enables them to build profitable alternative revenue streams rooted in sustainability.

Our partners benefit from access to valuable data and analytical tools that empower them to expand their circular offerings and support their sustainability strategies in a profitable manner. It’s important to note that our platform is not limited solely to rentals but also includes various other [circular fashion initiatives].

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How Do You Educate Your Consumers on the Benefits of Using Style Carousel? 

We educate our consumers primarily by offering a [superior service] that combines convenience and reliability, all while maintaining [competitive prices] for quality that’s typically unattainable elsewhere. Once our users experience the [quality, efficiency, and dependability] we provide, it becomes challenging for them to return to paying the same price for low-quality fast fashion alternatives.

We deeply value our early adopters and new members who join us on this journey. They not only appreciate the benefits but also actively contribute to our mission by spreading the word, providing valuable feedback, and serving as a driving force for us. They signal to brands and the wider community that sustainability is the direction they want to see. Supporting growth in this space can be [as simple as] purchasing a Style pass and renting on Style Carousel. 

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What Are Some of the Biggest Hurdles That the Fashion Industry Needs to Overcome to Become More Sustainable, and How Can Consumers Actively Support This Change?

One of the most significant hurdles for many brands in the fashion industry is the cost associated with making internal changes to improve sustainability. This is where [platforms like ours and the technology we’re developing become crucial for the future of fashion]. Embracing a circular model also allows the industry to move away from the deeply ingrained belief that profitability can only be achieved through [high volume turnover, large margins, and overconsumption].

At Style Carousel, our goal is to make it easy for merchants [to access scalability cost-effectively while simultaneously benefiting from a sustainable revenue stream]. From the [consumer’s perspective], one of the most impactful actions they can take is to refrain from buying unless they genuinely believe they can fully utilise the product they’re purchasing. With our platform, this choice is now readily available. There’s no excuse to leave items unused when renting is a viable and sustainable alternative.

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Do You Have Any Strategies for Putting Together and Refreshing a Sustainable Wardrobe?

Organising and refreshing a sustainable wardrobe can be [quite a challenge for many people, and it often involves psychological factors]. We offer a solution to this through our Wardrobe Detoxing service, which is available as part of our concierge services. You can access these services through our app by tapping the concierge button. 

We’ve learned from experts like Marianne [Obena], the Founder of Home Makeover Hong Kong, about the importance of visibility in your wardrobe. Get rid of unnecessary items, keep your core pieces, and rent the rest. You’ll likely notice positive changes in various aspects of your life. While it may seem daunting at first, once you’ve completed the initial purge, you’ll feel refreshed and [experience newfound clarity] in your everyday activities. There’s a lot to gain from this process.

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What Advice Would You Give to Aspiring Entrepreneurs Looking to Start Their Own Sustainable Fashion Business?

Be open to change and surround yourself with a dedicated team that shares your commitment to excellence and your mission. Having a supportive and passionate team can make all the difference when you encounter the inevitable challenges and changes along the way because, let’s face it, it can be tough.

Additionally, collaborate with knowledgeable experts in their respective fields. Working with smart people who are [experts in their domains can significantly ease your journey and help you navigate the complexities of the fashion industry more effectively].

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Do You Have Any Exciting Collaborations Coming Up or Favourite New Additions to Your Collection to Share? 

Keep an eye out for upcoming pop-up events where you can meet our team and enjoy private styling sessions. Our stylists have curated some fantastic new pieces that are incredibly versatile, suitable for dressing up or down, perfect for holidays, or daily wear. 

With the events season approaching, we’ve added gorgeous evening wear options, including selections from Lexi, and stunning gowns from Marchesa and Solace London, among many others.

We’re also working on the launch of our new app. Much of what we do and the progress we’ve made is thanks to user feedback, which we take very seriously. We’re constantly evolving based on this feedback to create the best possible product. We’re open to communication through email, calls, and discussions with anyone willing to contribute their thoughts, making our early adopters invaluable. 

The new app aims to address many of these suggestions and further improve the Style Carousel experience. Remember, it’s better to start embracing sustainability now rather than waiting for later.

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Featured banner image credit: @StyleCarouselAsia


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