Rent-a-plagg's story: How to start a business within the circular economy

The circular economy is something that we at The Good Tribe strongly favour. The Ellen McArthur Foundation, one of the leading organisations within the circular economy uses this definition, “The circular economy refers to an industrial economy that is restorative by intention; aims to rely on renewable energy; minimises, tracks, and hopefully eliminates the use of toxic chemicals; and eradicates waste through careful design. The Swedish start-up Rent-a-plagg (translation from Swedish: Rent a garment) is one of the latest business editions to the world of circular economy. Rent-a-plagg rents out all clothes and equipment that you need for skiing and hiking. Except the skis themselves. Thus adhering to one of the most important components of circular economy, renting, instead of promoting one direction take-make-waste consumption.

Rent-a-plagg is situated in the world downhill skiing championship village, Åre in the middle of Sweden. The initiators of Rent-a-plagg, Magnus Sellberg and Emelie Lundqvist are good friends of The Good Tribe. Today they share their story with us.

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We started Rent-a-plagg in order to open up the mountains to people that normally wouldn’t come here. However, our target group is very broad, from people that would normally not go on a skiing vacation, to conference groups, and people who have forgotten their stuff at home. We want to try to raise awareness on the short-coming of our consumption society. It simply doesn’t work. And we certainly don’t need to own everything ourselves in order to live a good life. Our vision is to bring awareness of what we’re doing to the environment, and at the same time help people to experience the wild and beautiful mountains of this region.

We came up with the idea for Rent-a-plagg one day in the ski lift, looking at what the tourists were wearing while skiing, or even simply walking the streets of Åre. It took us less than a year from idea to opening up our store in central Åre. We won a business competition, and got a mentor that helped us immensely with contacts and pitching our idea.

We started the business, a limited, in Åre, because it is one of the most beautiful places in Sweden. The business and entrepreneurial climate here is very good. Åre is crowded with many exciting people trying to bring about change and make a living here. People are very enthusiastic about our idea. Everybody seem to be asking themselves, “Why didn’t anybody think about this before!?".

Our plan for the coming five years is to open a Rent-a-plagg subsidy on every major ski resort in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Then we plan to expand to the rest of Europe. Today we’re two people on the team. Emelie has a background working with sports events, and Magnus from sports retail.

Our three hot tips for people planning to start a business within the circular economy:

  1. Think outside the box. Every idea, however crazy it may seem at a first glance, is worth thinking twice about.
  2. Believe in your idea and that it can be utilised to change peoples’ behaviour. Fight for your idea!
  3. Talk to the people around you. Your friends and all the people around you are the best inspiration.

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To celebrate the kick-start of Rent-a-plagg we’re now offering The Good Tribe’s Love Letter subscribers an exclusive 20% discount on any clothes and equipment, booked minimum one week prior to your rental dates.

The offer is valid until July 31, 2014 and cannot be combined with any other Rent-a-plagg offers. Use the code Pinky in Boots and the email address you use to subscribe for The Good Tribe’s Love Letters when booking.

You can book clothes and equipment by email or phone. All contact details available on their website.

Follow Rent-a-plagg on Facebook and Instagram.

Photo: Rupert Pessl