With their initiative called Pins & Needles, Ekatherina Alexeievna Malokhvei (26), Gabriel Sanchez Guerra (26) and Giulia Aldrighetti (25) want to challenge textile waste and encourage students to fix their old clothing instead of buying new one.

“People often throw away clothing that they really love because there is a hole in it, or they don’t buy a vintage piece because there is a loose button”, Ekaterina reasons. They offer students a clothing repair service that includes a pick-up and delivery of clothing in Rotterdam.

How it works

Very millennial-friendly, students can simply send a picture of their damaged clothing via Whatsapp or dm to Pins & Needles and will hear back from them with a cost proposal. “The repair itself is 55 percent cheaper than at a normal tailor and the pick-up and delivery rate are market conform”, Ekatherina describes their cost system.

If customers use the repair service, their clothes will be picked up, repaired and brought back to them. Alternatively, students can also drop off the clothes at the Sustainability Hub on campus. The three alumni don’t repair the clothes themselves but work together with two seamers. However, they do pick-up and deliver the clothes themselves. For now, Wednesdays is the pick-up and Saturday the return day.

Katja Malokhvei Pins Needles 2 – Thanh Nguyen
The mending process. Image credit: Thanh Nguyen

How it started

After completing a group project as part of their Master in Management, the three founders realised that they work really good in a team. Gabriel still remembers the night the idea to start a business was born: “We were having wine and thought: ‘We should really do something…what are we going to do?’”

Sharing an interest in vintage fashion, they set out to talk to people working in vintage stores to identify the problems they are facing. “We went out there with an open mind not knowing what we would find because then you ask different questions than when you come with an idea already”, Ekatherina explains about their approach to find a business idea.

Before_after pants Pins Needles – Katja Malokhvei
A before and after for pants that were mended. Image credit: Katja Malokhvei

What they found was a problem related to textile waste. Their research in vintage stores and conversations with students revealed that they tend not to buy vintage clothing when the clothing would require a small repair like a loose thread or button. They also throw away clothing they already possess rather than repairing it. “We want to change the mindset of people. A lot of people don’t even think of repairing their clothes. Going to the tailor is not sexy. Instead, they just buy something new”, Ekatherina explains.

So the idea for a repair service was born. “There are so many business opportunities, but for us it was important to make a positive impact. Now we are fixing a problem that students face while also promoting sustainability”, Gabriel sums up their driving motivation.

Reckless spending

While their big launch is planned for the beginning of next year, they are already having a soft launch of their service this Friday at the Erasmus Sustainability Hub from 4-6pm. It is no coincident that their launch is on Black Friday, the day that promotes reckless spending and overconsumption. “We decided to launch on this day to set a statement against mass consumption”, Gabriel concludes.