Our latest Industry Leaders episode is out now with Lucy Greenwood, Co-Founder of Lucy & Yak!
In this episode, Lucy shares with us how Lucy & Yak started from a beach in New Zealand and how they've now grown to 7 stores across the UK (with plans to open more) and a cult fanbase, including award-winning director, Greta Gerwig and Ed Sheeran (and many others)!
We hear more about how Lucy & Yak started, how they're making sustainability more accessible for everyone, traveling the world and doing what you're passionate about, and their plans for the future.
Listen to the full episode below or search Industry Leaders wherever you get your podcast
You can also read the interview below:
Sorcha O'Boyle: Hello and welcome to the Industry Leaders podcast. I'm Sorcha O’Boyle, and on the show with me today is Lucy Greenwood, from the brilliant lifestyle brand Lucy & Yak, which burst onto the scene in 2017 and now counts Greta Gerwig amongst its fans. Lucy, it's great to have you. How are you doing?
Lucy Greenwood: I'm good. Thank you for having me on.
Sorcha: I'm delighted to have you here. I'd love to know, could you tell us how did the brand come about? You have a great start story.
Lucy: I never know how far back to go. We didn't start the brand until 2017, but back in 2013 was when the sort of decision to quit our jobs, get out of the daily grind and just go traveling came about, and I don't think we would have done it if we'd not done that. Even just taking yourself out of your own culture, and the first place we went was New Zealand, which is a really similar culture to the UK but straight away you just almost feel like you can reinvent yourself a little bit and I suppose you don't feel the pressure of friends and family looking out for you and being worried if you're trying something that might fail. So me and my partner at the time we quit our jobs, went traveling, spent a couple of years traveling around New Zealand and Asia and we ended up making these little pouches to earn money on our way, and that was sort of the first time we got this feeling of what it was like to create something and people wanting to buy it, and it was just such a great feeling. We didn't make a lot of money. I think the first one we made took us about three hours between us and we sold it for $10, so terrible hourly rate. We were sat on the beach sewing. It was just a beautiful life, and we knew we'd get faster and by the end, I think I could make one on my own in 30 minutes and charge $10 for it. So that was really amazing. And what happened is we were in New Zealand for about six months and after we left, we were getting messages from people being like oh, I bumped into such and such and they had one of your pouches. And I was like oh, you know, Lucy and Chris, Chris is the other co-founder.
So that was like this real community built around it. And what's really interesting is, years later then we started Lucy and Yak and that same things happened within Lucy and Yak. There's this like almost cult. It's like you know, people call it a bit of a cult where if you see someone wearing the product and you're wearing a product, you give them a little wave or a nod or say hi, and I've always found it really interesting that that was really similar when we were selling the pouches as well.
So we travelled for a few years, came back to the UK and we had to come back to the UK for personal reasons. There's something going on in Chris's family. We didn't want to come back. So we were like we do not want to get a job. We've barely got any money. What are we going to do? So we went to this massive vintage market in Bangkok, which was where we were flying home from, just spent the last 400 quid that we had on really nice vintage pieces, came back to the UK, thought we'll sell them on eBay or something like that. When we came back, we found out that Depop was a new thing, so we started selling them on Depop, built up a really big following on Depop in the end. So we bought this old campervan which was called Yak, which is where the Yak comes from and we lived in this campervan for a couple of years buying vintage clothing from charity shops, selling it on Depop, not earning a lot of money, but enough to live in a van and enough to save a little bit of money to travel to India.
So we went on a trip to India and because we'd been selling vintage clothing, we were getting a real good idea about what people wanted. Neither of us had ever worked in fashion before, but we were like dungarees. Every time we get a pair of like vintage dungarees, which were really hard to find. They sold for like 80, 90 quid and we were like we need to make some dungarees if we can. So when we went to India for six months, we met this tailor in India that made like 30 pairs of dungarees for us, really small. We did them five colours, exactly the same shape, one size, and because we already had a following on Depop, we put them straight on our Depop and they sold out straight away. We were like what, something that we've created right, let's make some more. So put that money back on 60 dungarees and then just kind of grew from that and I think by the time we left India we were already turning over something like 30 grand a month. I was like what is going on?
We were running the business from an Android smartphone in India, posting the stock back to my mum and dad, who were then posting it out to customers. We were photographing it in India and I'm not kidding, it was April, May, which is height of summer, I think. It was like 45 degrees and I'm wearing corduroy dungarees, while Chris is taking photos of me and we've just got an audience of about 15 Indians around us like what on earth is she wearing, for a start, stuff like that. Too much attention around me, especially I'm not- I didn't enjoy the modelling days. It was fun and that was how we started. Then we came back and it just sort of snowballed from there and I think one thing that I would say is we did seem to blow up really fast and I think one of the reasons for that is that transition from already having a similar business which was vintage having that customer base. I think we had about 18,000 followers on Depop, so we already had this customer base to go to with our own product when we started, which helped it to sort of blow up straight away, I suppose.
Sorcha: Lucy, like someone needs to make a movie out of that. It's such a great film.
Lucy: You should have seen us, as one time we were transporting stock and we just did it the Indian way. you're there, you know, do as the Indians do. And we were, Chris was driving this scooter and I was sat behind him and we had this pile of boxes on us driving down this steep gravel street. We fell off the bike because we didn't hurt ourselves too bad, but it was just so what are we doing. Every time that you look back on anything, that was really fun. I miss those days.
Sorcha: That is fantastic. I love how you use the word cult early on, which is fantastic, because it's one of those things. A couple of my friends have a pair, two in particular, who wear them like all the time and whenever they come together and they're both didn't like it's like a fashion show and like we're all like, yeah, that kind of community, that's what brand founders like dream of. It's like the best case. So, what do you reckon was the little secret sauce that you had? It seems to come around really naturally.
Lucy: Yeah, do you know what? I've always tried to look back on this and actually I feel like I'm just about there, you know, when you're like, what was it? There seems to be a lot of things. Obviously, we had a hero product. It seems there's a lot of people that loved dungarees and have always worn dungarees. It wasn't really a trend thing. It's just that there just wasn't really a brand that they went to that had a lot of choice of different colours and styles. So I think that having a hero product has really helped.
I think the sort of telling of the story I think there's definitely a lot around that sort of inspirational quitting your job, going off, traveling, just sort of doing what you want to do. I always find it funny when I do meet our customers, because I don't always expect them to be into the same stuff as I am, because I don't feel like I really talk that much about what I'm into, then I'll meet them. They'll be like yeah, I love cold water, swimming, and I'm like, I'm so into cold water swimming you just end up, we've just got a lot of things that you have in common that must have just been coming through really naturally, and I think one of the things is I've never been shy to do videos and things like that and talk about what's happening behind the scenes on a really personal level. Somehow, I'd never done it before but somehow it came really naturally to me. And so there's definitely, I know we've got a huge northern following that love that we're a fashion brand that started in the North, you know, and didn't come out of London. I think there's that as well.
I think the sort of ethics and how we started the business as well, because it was very natural. It wasn't like let's start a business and let's be sustainable, ethical, because that's this trend that's coming through. We were just trying to figure out a way of making a little bit of money to keep on traveling and to do what we love, but at the same time, we just had this real strong feeling that we had to know who was making the clothing. We had to enjoy spending time with them. We had to know that they were being treated fairly, because otherwise you're not going to enjoy spending time with people that you exploiting. We wanted them to be our friends and we were trying to build this lifestyle of how can we earn enough money to survive whilst living the life that we love and, funnily enough, off the back of that, I ended up doing way less traveling because I ended up with a business that boomed. So I was like, well, the stress that I didn't want, but it's been amazing regardless, and we do get to go to India a lot.
I think a lot of it's that it's just being really organic and really natural and, I suppose, really authentic. And I think people can tell when something's bullshit, can't they? I think that when it's marketing, when it's done for the wrong reasons, I don't think you can fake it. It just has to be there within you. And I could always say that to people when they ask like, what advice I'm like you need to find something you genuinely love doing. Like I'm not saying I'm that passionate about fashion as such. It's more that I was passionate about that lifestyle I wanted to live and making sure that the people we worked with were being treated fairly. That was the passion. The product probably could have been anything, so it doesn't necessarily have to be that you're passionate entirely about the product, but it's like you've got to be passionate about what you're doing and what business you're creating in some way, because I think that will come through if you are.
Sorcha: Yeah, I find Lucy & Yak as a brand, I find it really refreshing. Even when you're looking at your social media and stuff, there's something about it that's just different and it is that authenticity that really really does shine through, which I mean I love. I mean I'm also the perfect target market for you so I’m probably a bit biased. Can you tell me a little bit about your supply chains? You kind of touched on that there. So how do you go about finding your suppliers? Because I know that sustainability is absolutely a cornerstone in the business. So can you talk us a little bit through your supply chains? How can you make yourself transparent to your customer? Because that is something else that kind of comes through in a lot of the stuff that you do.
Lucy: Well, in the early days the interesting thing was like when we first started the brand, because you can go to a big, established supplier and try and get them to make you a really small quantity or something when you're starting out or you need a lot of money so that you're going to meet their minimum orders. But because we did it really differently, where we just found somebody who was just a small tailor working with a couple of people and sort of grew them, it made it more challenging from a quality structure. You know, we had to be there on the ground in India helping make sure everything was running smoothly. We actually spent more time on the ground in India than we did working on our business in the UK, and I suppose in a way its meant that we've had a lot of problems in the UK that we've had to catch up with because we weren't here on the ground as much. But what was great about that was, I think when you start with someone like that, you've got a lot more control and say over the ethics and the sustainability side of things, because it's also a new business starting up. We were two start-ups basically growing together, which was chaos. It was absolutely chaos, but we made it work. And I think the other thing is customers understand, as long as you explain that and you're taking them along that journey of like, yeah, we had this turn up and this went wrong and that went wrong. We had so much like that happen, quality problems, but it meant that we're really strong in knowing that the ethics and the sustainability was there.
And then as we've grown and we've needed to expand out into other categories and because factories specialise in certain things, so there'll be specialist denim factories, for example, that our current factory that we started with wouldn't have been able to make. Jersey stuff like fleeces and things like that that we make couldn't be made there. So we had to then start finding other factories and Chris spent months trying to find recycled polyester fleeces. It's quite common now. I think a lot of people are doing Recycled Polyester. But even like seven years ago when we started, it really wasn't, but we ended up finding a factory that did it. What we used to do in the early days it was like really spend time with the factories, get a feel. There's nothing better than your own gut feeling on somebody like another business owner, walking around the factory, spending time with the workers and really knowing if it feels like what they're saying is true. But as we've grown and especially when COVID hit, that kind of threw a bit of a spanner in the works for us, because we were so used to being on the ground in India and then we couldn't travel for two years we had to then think actually we need a bit more of a robust system here that allows us to know what's going on even when we're not there. And I think it is really challenging. When you're working with factories overseas there's always risk, you know, because you're not there all the time. People can lie, people can fake things. It is really difficult to know 100%. What I think is important as a business is that as long as you commit to ensuring that your supply chain is fair, and if you do find out anything has gone wrong or that there's something happened that's not in line with your way of doing things, you address that with the factory and it's how you handle it afterwards. I think is what's really important, because it can be really difficult to say for definite you know this factory is 100% perfect and we would never say that.
But as we grow now the certifications have become really important. So like getting external organizations to basically check the entire supply chain. You know, B Corp's become a really big thing at the minute and we've looked into B Corp and the work involved and we looked at that. And there's another organization which is Global Organic Textile Standard, which is the organic cotton textile standard and it's like full traceability in the supply chain, which is even more complex than something like B Corp. But it's very specific on one thing. But a lot of our products are made from organic cotton, so we actually felt it was more valuable to put the time and money into that, because they basically go into your entire supply chain from like farm right through to even us as a business. They've audited all of our offices, warehouse and then they certify you as a business to be GOTS certified.
But even then it's still an organization. Some countries are more corrupt than others. There's still potential for corruption in that. But you just have to go which is the best organization out here that is certifying this and work with them to try and figure out, like map your whole supply chain and then actually figure out that everything is being done in the best way possible. But again, I still don't think anything in the fashion supply chain is 100% like that. You can be 100% sure unless you're making everything yourself, growing the cotton yourself. You know making yourself is really difficult, but I think, like I said, the most important thing is how brands handle it when things do go wrong. I think that says a lot about their ethics and how they intend to move forward.
Sorcha: Yeah, for sure. So you started off as an online brand, obviously, was one of the first ever on Depop, but even now obviously got seven stores, is that right? So how has that transition been?
Lucy: We opened our first shop in Brighton probably about three and a half four years ago now, and it was funny because the increase went to Brighton just for a weekend. Just I think it was new years or something went to Brighton and we'd got the warehouse in Yorkshire and we kind of knew that we wanted to live somewhere else and so we ended up going to Brighton for the weekend, falling in love with Brighton instantly, and we used to like wholesale to a few small boutiques at the time. But we decided that that was getting a bit complicated and so we were going to rein that in, because we just couldn't keep our own product in stock for the website and it was just getting a bit messy. So we thought we'll rein that in in the new year. So we met up with the stockist down there but funnily enough she was planning on closing her shop in the new year. She said you don't want to shop to you. We were like well, we never really thought about that. She's like well, why don't you just take it on for a month on a pop up and see what you think? So we ended up keeping it on on a like rolling pop up for 12 months, which was great because it allowed us to test it. It was more expensive, but it allowed us to test it, it did really really well. And then the plan was then we were going to open one shop every year, but we were going to keep them really small, not overexpose ourselves, just have a, you know, a presence in a few cities around the UK. But then COVID hit. So we ended up just with that one shop in Brighton one for about three years. And then when we started coming out of COVID, the digital world started getting a lot harder. Online advertising started getting so expensive and Chris was like I think we need to start focusing on retail and having like other avenues to find new customers. So we decided to open more shops and Chris went a bit wild and opened six in a year. Don’t get me wrong, there's been teething problems, but we've managed to do them, so Lucy and Jack style, DIY. They've not cost us a lot to kit out, you know, because people say hundreds of thousands of pounds to kit out a shop. We're like well, not if you kind of keep what's in there, make use of it, paint it. We've not really thrown anything out, we've just made use of what's in the shops already, but they still all look like a Lucy & Yak shop because we've just painted them all pink. They're doing great, like we've learned that we got some of them absolutely spot on. Some of them we need to maybe change the locations of because they were a bit more destination, but they're all doing pretty well, and I think the high street is really changing, you know. I feel like we're getting this shift back to obviously not as small, independent, but a lot of independent online brands could have these smaller shops and it almost creates this really nice high street again that's not just giant corporations on the high street. They're great as well because I think for our customers, we're such a strong community. They chat a lot online but to actually be able to meet in person, we do a lot of events in them. We work with a lot of other independent businesses in the area as well to do the events. So we have makers markets make where we invite like three or four businesses in and they just set up little stalls in the shop for the day, on a Saturday. We do different workshops. I think there's a terrarium workshop going on in our Nottingham store soon with another business that's nearby. We've got a lot of customers that are independent business owners, that we definitely have- we used to say we're like the uniform for independent business owners that don't need a uniform. They always say it's like Lucy & Yak's still one of us, just a bit bigger and I think that's really nice. So we just always try and nurture that and work with them. I really enjoy that part of it.
Sorcha: Honestly, Lucy, it all sounds totally gorgeous. Like you're saying, it's really rejuvenating the High Street, because I think sometimes when it's just all big brands and every High Street kind of looks the same, it's a little bit soulless, you know, as when you get one of the smaller brands and its re-creating community and that'll bring people off the computer into the shop. And there's so much more chance to discover and build relationships with people. It just, it really sounds lovely.
Lucy: Yeah, well, you know, our Cardiff shop was the latest one that we opened and it's on the corner of the start of this arcade, and so whoever manages the arcade, I don't know they have footfall trackers and they said that the week that we opened, the footfall increased by like 4000 or something through that entire arcade. Yeah, so stuff like that's really nice because you know that there's other independent businesses in there. I think it's funny because sometimes when there's an area getting a bit regenerated, they want brands to come in to like bring that footfall in, and you're like, oh, I don't want to be the first one in where it's dead, but actually it does then grow around you, doesn't it.
Sorcha: Yeah, it does, it does. Absolutely. I know we've talked about loads of the positive things, but have there ever been any kind of challenges as you've been scaling the business you know, where, moments where you've had to go actually, you know, is this true to the mission? Is this not true to the mission? Have there been any instances like that?
Lucy: What's been quite challenging actually is me and my co-founder, because we were in India at the start a lot, we were kind of like managing the business from a distance. We're not very like hands-on managers. We do sort of sit back and let things be and I'll be in the business a lot for a couple of months. Then I'll not be there much for a few months. It's a bit like that. So the team have got used to that. But I think what then happens is it leaves a lot of room for interpretation on how we want things done and where the brand is going. And I think the brand is very distinctive but what I've noticed is when you employ people, everyone has a certain idea of what the brand is and unless you give them this really one clear vision, it can go off on some tangents sometimes and it's got us in hot water a few times on social media for sure. Do you know what? Social media is the thing that's taught me the most. I've had mental breakdowns over stuff that's happened on social media, but then I've come out the other side like I'm invincible now. Yeah, during lockdown and COVID that year I was like, oh my God, because we were only a couple of years old, I was like is this just what it's like for brands? It was difficult to tell what was reality and what was COVID. We were only a couple of years old and I thought, oh, maybe it's just because the brand is getting bigger, we're going to be more open to criticism now. Then I realized it's just because everyone's sat in the house and got nothing better to do, and it's just like I’ll have a go at brand every day, because when you're the face of the brand and you do a lot of videos, it's great because you do build this amazing community and people feel like they know you personally and there's this human behind the brand. But then when the criticism comes, it's like you can't not take that personally. It's just impossible. And I've even, I've spoke to a lot of smaller business owners that maybe don't even show their face online but they still say it's hard not to take that criticism personally. There's certainly been things like that, like we've maybe gone a little bit too protest on stuff or a little bit too opinionated on some stuff, and what's been difficult as well is it's not always been my opinions, it's been like the teams, and I've realized that you've got to set this like really clear, like no, this is what we are about.
We can care about all these things personally, but as a brand, these are the things that we really stand by, and these are the things that we have authority to really talk about in a sort of more activist way. And these are the things we don’t because we're not educated enough to really talk about those things just because we care about them. And I think it's funny because Chris used to say it's all right them saying it, but then you're left holding it when they've gone and you're the one who's got to like defend this thing that wasn't even your opinion and I'm like I know. It is quite important to, sort of, if you can really define what it is that the values are, what it is that you are comfortable talking about and what it is you're not comfortable talking about and really sticking to that and making sure your whole team understands the dos and don'ts there, because I think, with quite a democratic brand, which I feel like we are internally, there's a lot of opinions and a lot of people that care about stuff in Lucy & Yak so it can go off on mad tangents that you're like whoa, how did we get here?
Sorcha: Yeah, totally, yeah, I totally understand. Can you tell me a little bit about the Re-Yak network? What exactly is that?
Lucy: Do you know what? This is something that I think we're were only about a year old, and this was before circularity was even being talked about, and Chris was like I think we should buy back people's old dungarees and then we can keep them in circulation. It'd be great for sustainability. And then we would always couldn't figure out how to do it online and we thought it'd be a bit too complicated. Then, when we started opening stores, we thought you know what? This is a great place to trial it, actually, because in the stores it's a little bit easier to manage, because you can bring back any Lucy & Yak product in any condition and you'll get a voucher off your next product. So you get a voucher up to the value of £20 and the value that you get is not based on the condition of the product, it's just based on the value that you bought the product for originally. So if you bring a pair of dungarees back and they're falling apart, you get 20 quid. If you bring a pair of dungarees back that are still in great condition, you get 20 quid. And then what we do is either recycle the ones that are falling apart, or we sell on the second hand ones, and so every shop now has got a Re-Yak rail in there that you can go in buy a pair of second hand dungarees. And I think what's great about it is, you can buy a second hand Lucy & Yak on Depop and places like that, like you can any other brand. But I think what's really great about a brand owning it is that you still get that brand experience. You get to go into the store, you get to buy something that's a bit cheaper, that's even more sustainable because it's second hand, but you still get the full experience of the brand in store. It just feels like a win-win win for everybody.
And you know, some people have said why would I bring it back and get 20 quid when I can sell it online for 40? I can sell it on Depop for 40. And it's like that's fine. We're not trying to stop people doing that. There's just a lot of people that can't be arsed to do that, so we're trying to just give them an outlet. I'm one of those people. Nowadays I'm so busy that I'm like what do I do with this product that I don't want? I ain't got time to take photos, put it on Depop. It's just nice that you can just bring it into the store. You've seen a new one that you want you basically upgrading your products, but someone else gets to buy a pair that maybe can't afford the full price pair. And what we want to do, we trial it in stores now. I think we've had it running for over a year. It's working amazingly and it's so funny. We were looking at the turnover of that stock is so fast. Like you know, we got 700 pieces back last month. 700 pieces went out the door last month, so they just- they fly out. And so what we were thinking with online before we had the shops, we couldn't do it online because we were like we know what it's like when you get one piece of vintage clothing and you got to take a photo of front, back, side. It's really hard to make any money from that and it ends up costing you a fortune. So we were like we're not ever really going to be able to sell this second-hand stuff online because it's all going to have different faults or different levels of wear and tear. So we need shops. So it's been great that you bring it back into the shop. Then that shop puts it back up for sale. But now what we're thinking is we're looking at how we can open it up online. We need some tech support with that, but when we open it up online, we're probably going to get a lot more back. But we can then look at maybe just having like specific Lucy & Yak like second hand shops, which I think would be amazing. Just like seven years old, we've got vintage shops.
Sorcha: And what about your Imperfects? I love the idea of the Imperfects.
Lucy: Yeah, so Imperfect is. So, like every supply chain, you can't avoid it. Faults happen on the production line. You know they come off, and a lot of time it's just minor faults, it's nothing major. So what would happen was factories would send us stock and we'd sort through it, and we'd find all these quality issues and we thought, well, we'll still sell this, it's still sellable, it's just we'll sell it on at half price. But what we then decided to say to the factories was like, look, if they say, if they send you stock and it's faulty, the agreement with every factory is that you wouldn't have to pay for that because they've sent you faulty stock. But then that's unfair on the factory because they've still done the work. But obviously you don't want to like just keep paying them full price because then it's going to encourage them just to keep making crap stuff. What we decided to do was have the conversation with the factory and say like, look, if something faulty comes off the production line, you flag it to us and you say, look, this is how much of this we've got, this is what we've got of this. Send it in separate boxes so we don't have to sort through it at our end and find it or maybe miss it, and it ends up going out to a customers faulty, will pay you half for it, and then we can sell it on a half. So we've got this agreement with the factories now, which tends to work really well because they tend to then just save up until we've got like what we've started doing is big events with it. So we do one every six months. I think the last one was in Edinburgh, and so now what the factories do is they've got a shipping container. They wait until, like you know, they've got enough. They all work together, put it all in one container, ship it over, so it comes over more economically as well, and then we just take it straight to an Imperfect sale and it's just- Sustainability can be quite inaccessible, can’t it? And I know we’re one of the more accessible price points when it comes to sustainability. But even still, we still get customers that say is they can't afford much, or they can't afford anything sometime. I think that's what's nice about it. You often can't tell the faults are there. You know somebody who doesn't know clothing, a lot of the faults are not that obvious, but we can spot them. So I think it's great for that as well. It allows more people access to the brand for a lower cost, which has always been important to me. I'm from, like you know, a mega working class area and I just sustainability has always felt like a privilege up until recently. I think there's more brands now that are more affordable, but it did used to feel like a privilege.
Sorcha: Yeah, you're spot on. I think a lot of sustainability stuff can seem quite elitist.
Lucy: Yeah, it can.
Sorcha: Yeah, it puts loads of people off the whole thing about it, for something that's meant to be so good can actually be quite divisive. Yeah, I think, of all the things you do, the Imperfects is one of my favourite things. You actually also have a cool thing on Black Friday, which I like. Can you tell us a little bit about your approach to Black Friday?
Lucy: Yeah, so almost everything that just came about like really organically. The first factory that we ever worked with is in a town in Rajasthan in India, and in this town there's a school that we went to visit. It's mostly girls. They do accept the odd boy, but it's majority girls like 600, I think there's about 600 girls that they support. But it was set up by a woman called Mara and a man called Deepu. They basically realized that there's a lot of barriers to young girls accessing education in India. So even though they do have a free school system, things like uniforms, books, travel to school, meals at school all of this stuff costs, and so they realised that that was stopping a lot of families from sending their girls to school. So, they created this school basically for young girls, and they cover everything from transport, books, teacher’s wages. They even buy them like an outfit for Diwali, which is their big holiday, kind of like our Christmas, and then all of their school meals and stuff when they're there. They really actively go into like villages and chat to parents and educate parents on why it's important to send their daughters to school. We met with them like really early on I think one of our first trips to India. I think the first Black Friday that we were going, we were only about six months old, and we just completely missed it and didn't do anything and didn't really know it was a thing. And then the second year we were like it would probably be great to do something like that, like something more charitable, and so we ended up working with the school and it costs about £220 to send a girl to school for a year. So, like now, every Black Friday we just raise money for that and it's around 250 of the girls in the school and its sort of growing a little bit each year. But we've just always done that. And you know what the schools, especially during Covid, because the school does get a lot of donations. It's quite a tourist town so they do get a lot of donations from tourists, like one off bita. But during Covid they didn't have any of that and so they were really glad that we'd already started a relationship with them during that period. But they're incredible. They support the kids all the way through school, but then even one of them wants to go on to university or they want an apprenticeship, or they want to get a job in another city. they might fund, like their first couple of months’ rent in a city, or they might support them with books and things throughout university. Yeah, and I've met some of the girls who are in their 20s now that speak the most perfect English. I've had conversations with them about how amazing the school is, and a lot of the teachers at the school, they're all women as well, went to the school, so they're all really passionate about it because they wouldn't have had an education without the school. So it's so great. It's very grassroots. You just know that like 100% of the money is going to the kids, and I think that's what's important when you're working with charities. So, yeah, every Black Friday, that's what we do. We donate like a large percentage of profits to that.
Sorcha: Brilliant. And what's the school called?
Lucy: Fior Di Loto.
Sorcha: Fior Di Loto. Okay, so if anyone wants to look it up, they can, because it's just it's really amazing.
Lucy: Yeah. Do you know what, it’s funny as well because when we went to the school they had the same branding as us, it was just pink everywhere.
Sorcha: Oh, that's fantastic. And actually, speaking of pink, I mean the branding Lucy & Yak is great, and so it's kind of fun, it's so joyful, it's just really fun. But you do quite a lot of work with artists, don't you? Yeah, yeah, so can you tell, like, how do you find those artists and how do you work with them?
Lucy: Do you know what we've never really had like a criteria in terms of they've got to have big followings or anything like that. So the design team will sort of know a kind of theme that they might want and then they'll just sort of go out. They follow so many people on social media now that I think they're explore page is probably just full of different artists that come up and then one of the designers will just present to us a few ideas for the season. Sometimes they have a bit more purpose behind them, so they might be linked to like a Pride campaign, or we've got a really great one coming up next June for that. Do you know what in the early days? I think it kind of came about because print was a big thing for us. We didn't have a print designer, originally. So me and Chris were like why don't we just like reach out to artists and just work with different people each time. We have now got in-house print designers, but we still kept that going. So I think last year we worked with about 20 different artists rather than just doing like one or two big collaborations with ones with loads of followers. We just look at their art and if we love their art, we don't really care how many followers they've got or anything like that, it's like just all about their work. It's always been that thing with the brand I don't know, like that sort of supporting independence and working with them, and I think that'll always be a part of what we do.
Sorcha: Yeah, I would love to work with Lucy & Yak. It sounds like the best place ever.
Lucy: Hard thing is, though, is you know, when I'm on something like this, I'm like God. We are doing a lot; we don't talk about enough for this.
Sorcha: No, you don't. No, you need. Yeah, it's so cool, Honestly. Oh, so much is so cool. So, listen, we've talked about a lot of stuff that you've done which is really, really cool, but can we look forward a little bit and say, like, what’s your dream best case scenario, what kind of thing would you love to do with the business, with the brand?
Lucy: One of the big goals is the circularity stuff, to really open that up online, and I'd love to get the business to a position where a large percentage of our sales were actually coming from second hand, because I do think sustainability is, there’s a lot of brands you know working with organic cotton, claiming sustainability but there’s a lot more to it then that. I think we need to be considering the full lifecycle of products. I think if businesses give themselves- if you could make a little bit of money from your second hand products it gives you even more reason to make them good quality at the start because then they’ll last, you’ll get them back, if we could just keep making money from the same piece of clothing, that’s like, that’s the dream for sustainability isn’t it. I think that’s a big one for us. Also, the US, is a big thing on our radar at the minute because we do have a large customer base in the US at the minute, it’s like 15, 20 per cent but we feel like there’s a massive focus we could put on there, which will mean lots more traveling for me again. I just want to travel more. That's my, that's always been my dream to just to keep traveling. With work, we're going to put a bit of focus on the US potentially open stores there but we're definitely going to open more stores in the UK because we'd like everyone to be at least within maybe an hour of a Lucy & Yak store. We're probably never going to be like hundreds of stores, but we'd like everyone to have access to one.
Sorcha: Well, if you want to open up a Dublin store, I'd be really happy about that.
Lucy: Yes, that's going to be on the agenda isn't it?
Sorcha: I know exactly which street you're going to be on. Listen, Lucy. I've really, really enjoyed this chat. Thanks so much for coming to the podcast.
Lucy: Thank you for having me.
Sorcha: That was Lucy Greenwood, co-founder of Lucy & Yak. Thanks for listening to this week's show and don't forget that you catch up on all of our previous episodes wherever you get your podcasts. That's it for now. So from me, Sorcha O’Boyle and all of us at more2, take care and bye.