We had the good fortune of connecting with Kaitlyn Allen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kaitlyn, how does your business help the community?
MendIt is a digital marketplace with the purpose of making sustainable consumption convenient and fun. By connecting people with local businesses, we are trying to solve four problems:
1. The environmental sustainability challenge of excess textiles in landfills. By offering clothing repair services, MendIt will extend the life of your clothes, keeping them out of landfills and contributing to UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 – ensuring sustainable consumption & production patterns.
2. Customers’ lack of awareness and access to clothing repair services, especially among people under 39 years old. Only 4.2% of Americans take their clothing to a local business to be repaired, with 27% of the market completely untapped. With a few taps, MendIt provides an easy, transparent, and convenient online solution for clothing repair with up-front pricing.
3. Low digitalization of small businesses. Dry cleaners, tailors, seamstresses, and embroidery shops typically have low access to digital tools to manage and grow their businesses. MendIt’s platform will be free to use and help existing small businesses access additional customers, increase revenue, and reduce time spent managing the business.
4. Return issue for retail companies. $12.4 billion of clothing purchased online was returned in 2020 due to incorrect size, fit or color, contributing to retailer overflow & lost sales. MendIt provides a solution for retailers dealing with pressure to meet sustainability goals and costly returns.
The infrastructure is available all around us, but businesses are disconnected. At MendIt, we are trying to connect the dots and create a holistic solution. Our platform will allow people to participate in a circular economy, create opportunities for leadership and growth in a niche industry made up of small, typically family-, women-, and/or minority-owned businesses, and provide a solution for retail overflow.
We believe that MendIt can help reverse the fast fashion, pre-fab, throwaway consumer mentality with thoughtful, compelling content and user experiences. You can spend $15 dollars on a new shirt at a big box retailer or you can pay $15 to a locally owned business to fix or enhance clothing you already own. When you think about it, the most environmentally friendly clothing is already in your closet.
Halah Aboud, a Connect Community sewist and driver for the MendIt pilot, poses with a sewing machine at the St. Luke’s Gethsemane workshop where MendIt orders will be fulfilled during the pilot.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
What sets MendIt apart from other startups is that we don’t focus just on the customers’ needs. We want MendIt to benefit small businesses in the textile services industry as well, to be an opportunity to inject capital into family-, women-, and minority-owned businesses across the US. Our vision is to rebalance the system and include small businesses in the solution set for sustainable development.
We believe that MendIt’s unifying purpose with a clear mission, vision, and values focused on supporting small businesses and advancing the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 12 will allow us to redefine the boundaries of the textile sector and bring in a variety of players, services, and functions that can fit together in the same tent only under such a common purpose.
Doing so will be an enormous task requiring extreme partnership, vendor champions, and customer loyalty. But the reward will be equally enormous: billions of tons of textiles not burned or landfilled, and the rebirth of a culture of care for clothing that helps people understand, appreciate, and act to minimize their role in the currently detrimental system of endless natural resource extraction, consumption, and disposal.
HTX Sewn Goods pickleball skirt collection
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
See a free show at Miller Outdoor Theater while you picnic on the hilltop. With kids (or not!) ride the train at Hermann Park. Ride, walk and hike the trails at Memorial Park. One of Houston’s hidden gems – Willow Waterhole. Bike, walk, and picnic there to avoid the Memorial / Hermann crowds. Hang out in Rice Village and check out some of their long-lasting establishments: Croissant-Brioche where you’ll meet regulars, Prego for a romantic evening, El Meson for Cuban food, Shiva for Indian food, and LePeep for brunch. Head west to Asiatown to try a reflexology treatment at Great Hands Massage and stop at Hong Kong Food Market for some of the freshest produce in Houston. St Arnold’s Beer Garden, Houston’s first craft brewery, has a fabulous covered patio with great downtown views. Eleanor Tinsley Park for a picnic and a great view of downtown followed by a walk along the Buffalo Bayou trail. Definitely visit the Museum of Natural Science. Their permanent dinosaur collection is amazing.
Maria Rivera, a Connect Community sewist, shows the handmade pickle ball skirts they produced on-site at St. Luke’s Gethsemane campus, where MendIt orders will be fulfilled during the Houston pilot.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
After many months of hard work, we are almost ready to launch our mending & donation pilot in Houston, TX, which would not be possible without our partners. The initial market area will be the West U/Southside/Braeswood areas, serving 77005 and 77025.
For our pilot project, our first “mender” (vendor partner) will be Connect Community, a local non-profit that brings organizations and local residents together in the Sharpstown/Gulfton area to collaborate, align their efforts, and strengthen the overall community. Thanks to this partnership, pilot orders will be fulfilled by a group of sewists who are members of the resettled refugee community in southwest Houston. This amazing group of women are also the design power behind HTX Sewn Goods, which recently debuted their pickleball skirt collection. We love supporting local businesses, and what better way to kick off MendIt than supporting local design and manufacturing?
We are also partnering with ReUse Textile Recycling Services, a local business that collects and transports used clothing to benefit local nonprofit organizations. ReUse will be providing door-to-door concierge services as long as the customer provides a clothing donation with their MendIt order. All proceeds from clothing donated through the MendIt app in Houston will benefit Child Advocates, an organization that mobilizes court appointed volunteers to fight against child abuse.