Fomeno Presented by Annie Lien and Payton Ryz

Fomeno is the first platform in which shoppers are able to thrift specific clothing items in one simple, streamline location.

Photo of Annie Lien
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Please confirm you meet the following criteria

  • We have submitted the supplemental form linked in the description above
  • We are aged between 14 - 20 as of February 11, 2021
  • We live in the United States or its territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa)
  • We are not employed by, or directly related (parents or siblings) to a current General Motors (GM) or Ashoka employee
  • We have been working on this project for at least three months
  • We consent to Ashoka and/or GM featuring our work on their website, social media, and in other materials regarding this Challenge using the information in our application
  • We confirm we have the rights to use and share any content uploaded on this entry form

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Date You Started Your Project

October 1, 2019 08/01/2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The fashion industry is the second dirtiest industry in the world. The endless cycle of producing new garments at mass scale to feed the needs of fast fashion is unsustainable and consumes Earth’s vital resources. Thrifting, the purchasing of gently used clothing, is the most sustainable way to shop fashion. There is still no market leader in terms of customer satisfaction because online thrifting is time consuming and difficult.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We have founded Fomeno, a fashion company that is reinventing thrifting and solving the environmental problem of consumption and waste from the fashion industry. Fomeno is transforming fashion so that together, we can wear clothes that matter. Fomeno is the FIRST platform where shoppers can thrift specific clothing items in the simplest way possible. Fomeno pulls inventory from online thrift stores so that shoppers can discover unique items in one, streamline location. Simply type in the clothing item you are looking for, and with one easy click or stroke of your iphone, Fomeno will curate the best item for you. Our explore page inspires shoppers to thrift outfits similar to what fashion influencers are wearing. Together, these features transform online thrifting. Here’s why Fomeno works and is a company of the future! Not only does Fomeno solve environmental problems, but its business model is profitable. Our company makes money while doing good. Our Revenue is generated through a cost per transaction model, charging online thrift shops 10% of each item sold through Fomeno. We are bringing a community of entrepreneurs and influencers to save the Earth one thrifted item at a time.

3. Please tell us how you are using science, technology, engineering or math to address your environmental challenge.

We are using the technology of an app and website to combine all our partnering online thrift, vintage, and second hand shops’ API inventory all in one location. Within our platform we will educate our shoppers about the negative effects of fast fashion and how their contributions of thrifting helps create a circular fashion industry. We also educate millennials through our instagram and inspire our followers to take action by being conscious of the clothes they are buying. Fomeno empowers people to not only shop sustainably, but educates and inspires our community to advocate for environmental change.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Fomeno sparked when co-founder, Brigit Blote, decided that she wanted to thrift a specific t-shirt decorated with Forget Me Not flowers. As she searched from one online thrift shop to the next, Brigit realized that thousands of these used t-shirts were for sale on a million different online thrift shops! As she sifted through the unorganized inventory she thought, “what if there was an app that you could type in the clothing item you are looking for, and it finds exactly what you want...only thrifted.” Since the idea, our team has turned a simple idea and into a working prototype, projected to launch on the app store winter of 2021! My whole life, I’ve known that I wanted to go into a field of work that would help both our home and the people who reside with it. In pursuing my passions of fashion and sustainability, I’ve found that I could connect all of these values by creating Fomeno.

5. Video (Keep it simple, your phone on selfie-mode is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

Throughout the accelerator program, we made pivots that helped make our business model viable. In October 2020, we launched a 2 week pilot version of Fomeno where our team personally thrifted for individuals who participated. We had over 300 requests with over 60% of them being returners. We have collaborated with an app developer over the last 6 months readying ourselves for our first release of the app. We have 10 official signed partners and are currently talking with over 50 other businesses

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

The existing players in the online thrifting industry include Poshmark, thread up, DEPOP and thousands of smaller online, boutique thrift stores. Fomeno is different from these resale shops because we bring the inventory of these shops together in one location. Partnering with these online thrift stores allows the shops to reach more customers with no additional marketing necessary. Fomeno is creating partnerships with established, online thrift stores instead of brick and mortar shops in order to upload inventory data as seamlessly as possible.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made.

In the past three months we had the privilege of being chosen as a part of 11 Hult Prize finalists teams to be showcased in a global live event where thousands of people got to listen to the 11 teams pitch. We were chosen out of 33 teams and leading up to this event had the support from influencers, family, friends, and other supporters, equaling to over 2.5 millions followers viewing what Fomeno was. We have 10 current thrift shop partners, over a dozen fashion influencer and photographer influencers, and almost 1000 followers on instagram after only beginning our instagram in August 2020.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

The biggest expansion that will be happening in the near future will be the initial launch of the app. In mid February, Fomeno will be released on the app store! One area in particular that I plan on expanding is marketing. Now that Fomeno is beginning to grow and flourish, it is vital that people know who we are, what we stand for, and where they can find us. I believe this can be accomplished through reaching out to more influencers so that Fomeno will reach individuals on all social media platforms. We also have plans to create an even greater social impact through partnering with organizations that give used clothing to families and people in need. Clothes that cannot sell on our platform will be donated.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

We have had a lot of positive feedback from people on our campuses and those who follow our social media pages that they have started to love thrifting. The support of Fomeno is tremendous and the influence we have had is immense. We have opened the eyes to our followers on breaking down negative stereotypes about thrifting and how to thrift. We have had many instagram lives to discuss topics around thrifting and will continue into the new year with even more outreach from sustainable activists.

11. How would you partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

We will continue to partner with fashion influencers, photographers and our thrift and vintage shops. Growing our global Fomeno community is one of our missions; I believe if we can achieve a good and stable social media platform, we will be able to reach a lot of people through a simple means. Fashion and social media influencers will provide us with this outreach, thus why my job is to speak with and communicate with aspiring entrepreneurs and influencers.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

A lot of people do not realize the effect of buying new clothing has on the environment and the effect on people who are working in harsh conditions to create our clothes. When we educate people on these issues using our platforms we will influence others to choose to thrift. When shoppers realize that they can discover and own their unique style through thrifting they will fall in love with how fun it is to give a new life to a clothing item.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Donations over $10k

14. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you? You’ll be able to select only one option.

  • Marketing Strategy

Are you employed, or directly related (grand-parents, parents, sibling) to a GM or Ashoka employee?

  • No

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Word of mouth

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 50%

Probably - 25%

Maybe - 0%

Probably not - 25%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 75%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 25%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 0%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 0%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4 - Yes, I think so - 25%

3 - Maybe - 25%

2 - Probably not. - 0%

1 - No - 25%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 100%

4 - Yes, I think so - 50%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not - 50%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4 - Yes, I think so - 50%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 25%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4- Yes, I think so - 50%

3- Maybe - 0%

2- Probably not - 0%

1- No - 25%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 100%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 50%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 50%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 100%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 100%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 100%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 50%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 100%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 50%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 0%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 50%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 0%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 50%

Other option - 0%

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Photo of Tiauna

This is super cool- I love thrifting and think an app definitely would be helpful with finding pieces! Keep up the great work!

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