This fashion tech startup has created a platform to help independent designers skip intermediaries and connect directly with suppliers instead. It’s an innovative platform, that offers innovative products. We caught up with Queen of Raw’s Founder and CEO, Stephanie Joy Benedetto, to tell us more.
Describe Queen of Raw.
Queen of Raw empowers designers to design smarter. Our e-platform brings innovative and sustainable textiles to the global sourcing supply chain across industries (think Etsy for raw materials). On our website designers can, for the first time, create digital mood boards for their collections and then quickly and easily purchase these otherwise hard-to-get goods straight from suppliers with the click of a button.
It’s a win-win for designers and suppliers. Through Queen of Raw, suppliers are able to keep better track of their inventory and sell their excess stock (that would otherwise remain in a warehouse or landfill) to a previously unreached customer base. We offer these traditionally brick-and-mortar suppliers the opportunity to compete in online retail, offload their overstock, and reach, for the first time, independent designers.
What inspired you to start Queen of Raw?
With family roots in the textile industry (my great-grandfather was a Lower East Side furrier, my grandfather sold army surplus after World War II, and my father-in-law owned global textile factories), it was perhaps inevitable that this would be my calling.
The idea for Queen of Raw came from my experiences at Paper No. 9, a sustainable textile manufacturing facility I co-founded in 2012. We developed a proprietary process that converts recycled paper into luxury textiles using no wastewater and no toxins. It’s here that I saw firsthand the disconnect between supply and demand. There are some great textile manufacturers doing innovative things: fabrics derived from recycled plastic bottles, milk-based, coffee-based, fruit-based, and bacteria-based textiles, and fabrics printed by 3D printers. But there’s no easy way for designers to source these materials directly from suppliers. Queen of Raw provides the bridge.
What value does Queen of Raw have that makes it stand out against other startups in the space?
Queen of Raw’s mission is to break down traditional barriers within the US $1.5 trillion global fashion market by giving students and emerging, independent designers ready access to materials. We are changing the status quo of a traditionally complex, exclusive, offline, and uninspiring sourcing process by shifting power to the community of independent designers, connecting them directly with suppliers online, and creating a platform that integrates with the way designers design, share, connect, and shop.
Fashion designers traditionally suffer from long lead times, huge minimum orders, and shipping costs that far exceed the value of the raw materials. Queen of Raw features a rapidly expanding selection of materials, short lead times, local inventory, and low minimums. Designers can now engage in rapid prototyping, quick sample making, small lot production, and reduced time-to-market, while also having a shopping and design experience that is interactive, creative, and personal.
What has been the hardest obstacle for you in creating Queen of Raw? What has been your favorite part?
The hardest obstacle in creating Queen of Raw has also been my favorite part: getting the technology right to create something new, innovative, and fashion-forward. Anyone can write code. But delivering something that customers appreciate and that answers their specific needs is key. That has been the focus of Queen of Raw’s Co-Founder and CTO, Phil Deramso, its Creative Director, Corbin Chase, and the rest of the QoR team.
Queen of Raw’s platform relies upon technology tools we created specifically to streamline the sourcing process and inspire the independent designer community. Members can easily compare items and add items to their mood board, wishlist, and social media, as well as download digital swatches, and even add reviews and tags. Features like these allow us to glean insights on customer preferences and build a completely customizable shopping experience.
What can we expect from Queen of Raw in the future? What is the future of fashion?
Future plans for Queen of Raw include scaling our platform globally (we are currently only available in the U.S. but intend to engage in a staged global rollout in response to strong market interest), advertising to broaden our international distribution and recognition (as well as global awareness of the important issues around sustainability), and establishing the infrastructure to white label our technology. We also have a mobile app coming soon!
The future of fashion is a world with no clothes…at least not clothes in the traditional sense. Imagine people being able to design custom clothes to their exact specification and style on their computer, tablet, or phone, send the designs to a hotel halfway around the world, and then fly to that destination with no suitcase. After arriving there, they find all the clothes are 3D printed in their closet. When their travels are over, they leave everything behind to be broken down into raw materials and then redistributed to the next person. That is the future of fashion and Queen of Raw wants to get you there.
Challenge design’s codes and traditions. Find your unique style and vision. #GORAW!
To learn more about Queen of Raw, check out their website and watch the video below.
Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.