Interview: DeMoo Madness

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Names: Jess Patel (JoBo) , Sas Patel (Trevs) & India Taylor Smith (Trevs)

Year: All going into Third Year. India is currently on her year abroad.

Role: We all chip in everywhere where we can and all take a variety of roles.

What made you decide to start DeMoo?

Sas:  Jess and I have always been into upcycling clothing and redesigning unwanted garments. During our sixth form years we were constantly rummaging around charity shops and scouring eBay for designer clothing which we would patch up and sell on Depop. We did this for around 18 months or so, and managed to make enough to fund both of our interrailing trips around Europe, as well as our leavers trip to Ibiza!

We never thought about turning this venture into an actual business until we met India at Durham. During our first year we seemed to have a wealth of time, so the three of us decided to venture into the ‘Toon’ and see what the charity shops had to offer. It came to our attention that every charity shop we visited in Newcastle was brimming with high quality jeans and denim jackets. Returning to our student accommodation that afternoon, with bags full of designer denim, it was India’s idea to turn our creative skills into an enterprise. 

We decided on the name ‘DeMoo’ as it represents what we do. The ‘De’ is for our focus on denim, and the ‘Moo’ is for our signature cow print trim which was the first design we created. DeMoo originally started with the jeans, but headbands were our second Einstein moment. We had the idea of turning the jean trimmings into wearable headbands. We currently have 23 different headband styles, each named after different DeMoo-ers (customers). 

Sustainability is at the core of DeMoo. In everything we do, we focus on promoting a stance against fast fashion. It is estimated that over 300,000 tonnes of clothing ended up in landfill between 2017-2018. Charity shops often cannot cope with the sheer amount of denim waste, resulting in shipping to landfill sites. We know what we do isn’t much, but at least by purchasing DeMoo’s up-cycled jeans, our customers are on the right path in moving away from ‘throw-away’ fashion.

How does DeMoo run at the moment?

India: Until now it was always just the three of us running everything from our student house in Durham. We lived together in 2nd year so it was pretty easy to coordinate everything, but India has just started her year abroad in Argentina so things have become slightly more complicated.

We launched a brand ambassador scheme on 30th July this year. Having been ambassadors for Soap & Glory, Amazon, Deliveroo and STA travel, Jess and I have really seen the value in being part of such a scheme. We are hoping to pool together our ambassadors’ which range from photography, modelling, sketching, textiles, finance and entrepreneurship to name a few, to really propel DeMoo to new heights.

What’s been the most surprising thing about starting a business?

India: For me, I’d say the most surprising thing has been how fast, and easy, it has to grow! The three of us never intended for DeMoo to turn into a huge enterprise, but somehow it seems like that has happened! We’ve had people coming up to us in the streets of London, on the tube and at parties or nights out congratulating us on DeMoo’s success and asking us about it. We featured in 20 fashion shows around the UK in just 6 months, been approached by numerous bloggers and student journalists for interviews, and have also been featured on TV! It all seems like a bit of a dream, as in my head I just think of it as a little business we founded in freshers. 

How do you balance uni life with running a business?

Jess: I’m going to be completely honest and say that this summer has been the most hectic of my life. I think we really took for granted being in Durham and sewing in the comfort of our student house. During exams we received 30 headband orders practically every single day which we would have to make from scratch each evening after a long slog at the library. All I wanted to do was to go to bed and see my friends, not sew in my bedroom!

The real motivation comes from being able to visually & verbally see the extent of DeMoo’s success. We definitely had some real ‘pinch me’ moments this summer. For example, going for drinks in London or attending 21sts where girls would be wearing our products. Or friends messaging our Instagram saying that they had spotted DeMoo on the beach abroad! Going into final year, managing DeMoo is going to be tough, especially without India in the flesh. Somehow seminar prep, dissertations, job applications and DU Lacrosse matches will also have to be squeezed into the chaotic mix.

I guess my answer is that we don’t really balance work with running a business. This is probably a bad attitude to have but in the end, we will all get a degree in some variety, but not many will be able to say they ran their own business alongside their studies. I’m completely ok with DeMoo being prioritised because I genuinely love the creating and making of it all, and am very proud of the success we have achieved so far.

Advice for aspiring Durham brands?

Sas : Just go for it! University is THE time to let your ideas manifest into something concrete. First year was the perfect time to start DeMoo because we had so much free time and if we hadn’t, we would probably just end up going to the pub more and spending more money. After university, you are never going to be surrounded by so many talented people who can help out in designing, event planning, photography, videography and illustration ever again. We are constantly shocked about how many messages we get from students all over the UK wanting to help out for free and get stuck in spreading the DeMoo word. So just go for it! Who cares if you start something at University and it doesn’t go to plan? 

Business Women that inspire you?

India:  Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, is someone the three of us have very much looked up to throughout the DeMoo journey.  DeMoo started out much like The Body Shop did. Like Anita, none of us knew the first thing about running our own business therefore the first 6 months were definitely a trial and error period, however I believe that without this organic growth, DeMoo would not be what it is today. Our business journey is very much aligned with Anita’s, and her environmentally conscious practices are what we attempt to mirror within DeMoo.

What’s the next step for Demoo?

India: Our new headband range is launching imminently and in accordance with our new Brand Ambassadors, each of them will have a new band named after themselves. With third-year setting in, we aren’t going to daunt ourselves with too many big projects. We will, however, be supporting a handful of charities in accordance with some Durham events and platforms such as Aggression Session and OddBalls. We’ll also be teaming up with Deliveroo and Amazon to give out some huge giveaways via our social media channels.

Image by DeMoo Madness

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