Founders Fridays is a new StartupAmsterdam initiative that showcases local entrepreneurs who help strengthen our ecosystem. By inviting founders to answer five questions, we want to shine a light on our ecosystem’s most inspirational stories and role models. We hope that we’ll all learn and grow together by providing startup founders with a space to share their insights and experience.

This week, we spoke to Kathryn Saducas, co-founder of swap-studio. Swap-studio is an online peer-to-peer community where members swap products they no longer want using a points or credits system called kudos. The platform offers curated collections of quality fashion, living and kid’s items.

1. How did your career journey lead you to found swap-studio?

For the last 20 years, I have worked for technology companies, often in industries going through a major transformation or change. I love how technology has the power to provide disruptive solutions to problems that need to be solved. Growing up in Australia, I was fortunate to live in a pristine environment, but watching the impact of climate change has motivated me to contribute in some way. Amsterdam is a hotspot for innovation and circularity and last year I met Niloo, the founder of swap-studio. We realised we had a common background and a shared vision - to build a purpose-driven company to solve one of the biggest challenges of today.

2. What makes Amsterdam a great city and a great ecosystem for a startup founder?

There are a lot of things I love about Amsterdam - it’s an exciting place to build a business because there are so many people living in a small place with a lot of diverse experiences and ideas. This melting pot, plus the Dutch entrepreneurial spirit, creates a vibrant community where new initiatives emerge every day. The startup culture is huge and there are endless opportunities to network and learn from others. Amsterdam’s ambition to be 100% circular by 2050, with clear goals to reduce its use of raw materials in the coming years, makes it an inspiring city to launch and run a sustainable business. 

3. What are the goals and needs of swap-studio for the upcoming months?

Over the past 15 years, clothing production has doubled, while the length of time we actually wear these clothes has fallen by 40%. This creates a massive waste issue that needs to be addressed. 

At swap-studio, we want to make it easy for people to rehome their fashion and lifestyle items by swapping them in the community. We offer a fun and sustainable way to refresh your wardrobe or home, so you can feel good about your environmental footprint. We also offer local brands an exciting new way to clear their excess inventory or ‘sell’ their overstocks to an audience of conscious shoppers.

Our goal is to bring buyers and sellers together to exchange items, extending the life of their purchases and showing people a new way to trade. Swapping is most fun when there is a super active community, so growing our members is a top priority.

4. What has been a recent ‘challenge’ for your business, and what have you learned from it?

Swapping or buying second-hand is a lifestyle choice and requires a shift in buyer behaviour. People often associate second-hand or reuse with thrifting and there is still a lot of pressure to keep up with the latest fashion trends or to buy something on impulse. Most people have a lot of stuff in their home that they no longer need or wear, but often don’t have the time to photograph and list those items on a website.

On our platform, you swap for points (called kudos) and not money. Those kudos can be used to exchange something from another member that you might value more. Thinking about your stuff as a kind of currency is a different approach and this takes a bit of explaining at first.

We try to make it easy for people to try swapping by offering a 14-day free trial period (which gives you one free swap), having simple pricing models and offering services like photography and pick-up and drop-off locations around the city. Our challenge is to reach more people, educate them to look at their stuff differently and encourage them to give swap-studio a go.

5. Recently, together with Equals and The Next Closet, you launched ENOUGH STUFF, a 30-Day Shop Stop Challenge. What is the aim behind this campaign and how do imagine this challenge growing to a bigger scale?

The 30-Day Shop Stop Challenge is a way for people to think about what they already have and to be more mindful of what they actually need. The impact of fast fashion is well known, with massive amounts of textile waste being incinerated or dumped each year. A shopping detox is a bit like any other detox - it takes a while to adjust and then you see the benefits which go beyond just saving money. We would love Enough Stuff to be an annual event, to educate and create awareness like the Fashion Revolution or Meatless Monday campaigns. And most importantly, to encourage individuals to mend, repair, share and explore new ways to live more sustainably.

If you want to learn more about the women breaking through in Amsterdam’s startup scene, check out this roundup of Amsterdam’s wonder women

And if you want to share your story with our local ecosystem, you can contact us by email: startup@amsterdam.nl