Every year, 92 million tonnes of textile waste is sent to landfills. That’s one truckload dumped every single second. Growing up, Stephanie Benedetto and Phil Derasmo, whose families were in the fabric and fashion business, saw the reality of fashion waste firsthand and wanted to come up with a solution – one that actually made it profitable for companies to choose the sustainable option.
What they started was Queen of Raw, a global marketplace that increases the bottom line for companies by monetising the estimated US$120 billion worth of wasted raw materials sitting in warehouses today. In essence, the company “turns deadstock into dollars” for retail, apparel and footwear brands with its AI and blockchain-powered software that tracks these unused fabrics.
That means identifying supply chain waste at the root or source, making information about the material’s sustainability, emissions, water consumption transparent and verifiable using blockchain, and then selling this unused fabric through its B2B marketplace to ensure that this raw material gets used up rather than wasted in landfills or burned in incinerators.
Companies can identify waste in their supply chains they may not even know they had.Stephanie Benedetto, Co-Founder & CEO, Queen of Raw
Using AI and blockchain technology for its algorithms means Queen of Raw is able to scale its impact – it can recommend suitable prices to match sellers and buyers, and prioritise the type of fabric one company is looking for, or the distance between where the supplier is based to where it needs to go. It also shortens the process of uploading products as it can take in files from multiple inventory management systems.
“If we can find locally sourced or locally available deadstock, located where someone is manufacturing or going to use it, we cut down on carbon emission costs,” explained co-founder and CEO Benedetto.
Queen of Raw claims that its AI-driven reselling tech translates to upwards of 15% of extra revenue for businesses. “Companies can identify waste in their supply chains they may not even know they had,” Benedetto told Forbes.
I hope we write ourselves out of the market.Stephanie Benedetto, Co-Founder & CEO, Queen of Raw
According to the startup, each yard of deadstock purchased doesn’t just divert waste from landfills, it means saving 700 gallons of water. Textile production is currently the second largest water polluter, and so far, Queen of Raw claims to have saved around one billion gallons by matching deadstock sellers and buyers through its platform.
Their proprietary technology also means that businesses are better able to optimise their resources, plan capacity more efficiently and automate their reporting system.
This also prevents brands from potentially abusing the system by over-ordering and making money off extra materials, because Queen of Raw measures how much deadstock a brand provides and will offer transparent information over whether this amount is going down over time.
Since its inception three years ago, the startup has worked with more than 325,000 buyers and sellers – including some of the biggest luxury brands such as Cartier, down to fast fashion players like H&M.
The once-bootstrapped startup also quickly garnered funding and grants from competitions such as the MIT Solve Circular Economy Challenge and WeWork’s Nashville Creator Award.
Ultimately, Queen of Raw’s goal is to actually go out of business – because that means all the deadstock is being rescued and put back into the value chain, eliminating water and landfill waste.
“We want to see the overall rate [of deadstock inventory] decrease,” Benedetto said to Vogue Business. “I hope we write ourselves out of the market.”
Lead image courtesy of Queen of Raw.