After a lot of blood, sweat and programming, inspiration star Niki De Schryver launches her very first tool to make sustainable shopping more accessible. No, not just another app, but an online platform tailored for the consumer.

Time to look back at the story of COSH! - with an extra tuft of grey hair and a new dose of entrepreneurial wisdom.

From zero to Pokémon Go

It's May 2017.

Entrepreneur and sustainable fashion expert Niki De Schryver leaves full of inspiration for the Hack Belgium 2017. In her backpack? A dream to make sustainable fashion accessible.

An initial survey with 150 Hackers showed that 80% of their clothes are ordered online. And although all these people claim to live in an ecological way, only 2% of them take into account the sustainable or ethical aspects of their clothing. Oops.

Does shopping lead to acute amnesia in terms of sustainability? Probably not. But the overload of incentives - Sales! Sales! Buy NOW! - is hard to ignore. And information about the sustainability of a brand? It's hard to find. It makes an average shopping trip suddenly a lot less relaxing. Of course, it has to stay fun.

Yes, there are ranking systems that tell you how sustainable a brand is. But then, of course, you have to know which brand you want to find. If you just need a new coat or a pair of shoes, you have to start looking for it. But where? And how?

Besides, it's not just the brand that's important. The nature of the product, the style, the colour and the price also determine our purchases.

And then Niki gets the idea for COSH!: an online plug-in that distracts shoppers from non-sustainable products and helps them to find similar (more) sustainable alternatives.

In the summer of 2018, start-up COSH! receives the grant from Flanders Circularly and further research accelerates the project.

A competition by the City of Antwerp provides COSH! with inspiration for a second tool: what if we can also guide consumers offline with sustainable choices? Something is starting to heat up again...

In the meantime, COSH! is increasingly getting its own rebellious image, thanks to the help of graphic design agency Studio Cojak.

Do all roads lead to Rome?

COSH! begins an extensive market analysis. And what does it show? We all still like to go shopping in physical shops. So it is not so crazy of COSH! to also focus on offline shoppers by means of a mobile app.

The goal: to give shoppers looking for sustainable brands and stores in real time and location based information.

But doing business is a bumpy road. This proved to be the case in October 2018.

COSH! then goes through a process with IMEC Living Labs. It turns out that the cost for a plug-in and a mobile app is much higher than budgeted. The focus is shifting to community building. Because the more people find sustainable fashion important, the more budget can be raised for COSH!

image credit: Clean Clothes Campaign

In the meantime, Niki successfully founds FaKtory Infini, a fair that brings together sustainable entrepreneurs and consumers. COSH also joins forces with the Clean Clothes Campaign and Fashion Revolution in Belgium and the Netherlands.

COSH!'s social media team expands: the Dutch Chanel Trapman, the founder of Mumster, reinforces the team.

All hands on deck

We wouldn't have gotten that far without our COSH! Ambassadors

While sustainable fashion activists gather around COSH! both online and offline, a new market survey clarifies the priorities. On Instagram and at events, the ambassadors of COSH! campaign to arouse interest in the tool and motivate people to complete a survey.

You ask, we deliver

At the end of March 2019, 430 people took part in the new study. The results were surprising. Not the mobile application, but an online tool would be the best investment at the moment. By the end of April 2019, 643 people had already completed the questionnaire, but the results remained the same.

What exactly were we asking in that market research?

COSH! surveyed the shopping behaviour and vision on sustainable fashion among Dutch people and Belgians between 18 and 75 years old.

This showed that 75% of them usually shop in a physical shop and that only 37% would use a mobile app to facilitate sustainable shopping.

By the way, one in three of the people surveyed didn't know exactly what 'sustainable fashion' is: they don't know a lot of sustainable brands and call large retailers and fast-fashion chains sustainable.

Shopping is like the new digital detoxing.
Because instead of an app, 25% of the respondents would like to do a shopping tour in the city in order to get to know sustainable shops.

And COSH! can help with that. Guided tours can inspire people and - literally - open new (shop) doors for them. But there is also the need to keep the sustainable shopping spirit alive and kicking.

Although sustainable shoppers don't seem to need a mobile app, an online platform can inform them and encourage them to go sustainable shopping on their own, even after a guided tour.

From Pokémon Go to sustainable Google Maps

Thanks to the insights of our latest market research, COSH! now has everything in its hands to launch its first sustainable shopping tool. Not a mobile app, but an online platform that guides consumers towards sustainable choices based on style and budget.

The Conscious Shopping Guide, or COSH! Guide has the looks of a webshop and the power of Google maps.

Sustainable shoppers will find the best brands and stores according to their preferences. They can also easily store their own personal shopping route in it.

This allows them to be well prepared in the city, without digital noise. And if you still need a reminder on the road, you can use the COSH! guide on your smartphone.