One t-shirt takes an average of 700 gallons of water to produce. It takes another 700 gallons of water to wash it in its lifetime. Did you know the textile industry uses 26.4 trillion gallons of water every year? And $288 billion worth of this fabric goes to waste every single year? Most of us claim to care about the environment, but many may not understand the magnitude of this rapidly growing menace or know what can be done about it.
New York-based entrepreneur Stephanie Benedetto is quite literally changing the world. Founder of Queen of Raw, which measures the gallons of water saved by keeping deadstock in circulation rather than creating new fabrics, this queen has an immense passion for not letting our natural resources go to waste.
Queen of Raw is an onchain integrated marketplace platform where everyone—including designers, retailers, and end consumers—buys, sells, reuses, and recycles raw material. With over 400,000 users, Queen of Raw is rapidly growing across all categories, including individual designers, luxury fashion brands, and more.
According to Benedetto, there are over hundreds of billions in wasted fabric sitting in warehouses today. This is a global problem that requires a global solution for both buyers and sellers. “To have a massive impact, we need access to a marketplace, but to ensure that everyone—from the top level to the bottom, large (famous) brands and retailers need to be involved. We needed tools and technologies for them to be able to use. The fashion industry is majorly focused on the finished product, so you end up with a lot of leftovers that become waste in addition to problems related to supply chain, technology, and data collaboration,” she told CoinGeek.
The story behind Queen of Raw
A former corporate lawyer on Wall Street, Benedetto witnessed the market crash in 2008 firsthand, which urged her to start from scratch and change the world. She started a textile manufacturing company that invented a new leather alternative, and “big” brands became her customers. That was when she noticed piles of wasted fabric lying in their warehouses. “It just didn’t make sense. Those companies were buying sustainable (leather) products from me while all the unused material sat in their warehouses. That was the biggest eye-opener for me,” she shared.
Benedetto said there was a supply-demand mismatch, and technology was needed to bridge the gap. There was no turning back for her after going to the General Assembly, New York, and seeing the posting of the now CTO of Queen of Raw, Phil Dermaso. The pair have been working together since.
Dermaso comes from a background in environmental engineering and had worked on Wall Street in technology for over a decade. His mother and aunts worked at factories where piles of textiles lay everywhere. He pondered, “People relied on pen and paper in the past, so how to ensure data integrity? How do you know it’s waste (dead) stock in the first place? That’s where the blockchain comes in, which now stores an exhaustive record of the fate of each yard of fabric regardless of to which warehouse or brand it belongs.”
Queen of Raw is an SAP partner built on ETH blockchain, Dermaso explained, adding that it’s not about ETH or a particular technology that’s important, but the business processes surrounding it. “Technology-wise, the type of blockchain doesn’t matter much, but the business rules, design of the contract, and business applications are what matter more. We are using it for a particular purpose within the supply chain that makes sense for our community.”
“Blockchain for us is a collaborative immutable database that could just as well be any other technology that interfaces with our APIs and our clients to facilitate the overall collaboration of that immutable data,” Dermaso explained.
The laws are changing, and the world isn’t going to stand for this waste anymore. If we don’t take corrective steps now, it will become increasingly challenging for big companies in the future.
How did you sell the idea to retailers and designers worldwide?
According to Benedetto, when blockchain became a hot topic, most fashion brands did not understand it. “It is particularly challenging when the brands are being led by a different generation of C suites and the biggest legacy systems. Then you can’t lead with B-word blockchain, T-word technology, or even S-word sustainability, but you can lead with the fact that you are selling invaluable material and putting that money back into digitizing their businesses. If you point out the high costs and liabilities to the CFOs, CMOs, and CTOs, they come forward.”
She pointed out that businesses can’t work in silos to resolve this problem. Queen of Raw provides them with an engine that allows all users to participate in a circular economy. It saves the businesses from dealing with legal aspects, logistics, technology, and the maintenance of technological tools, as Queen of Raw packages, and democratizes them for businesses to use.
Dermaso chimed in to add that blockchain solidifies those data records and a place to see what happened to a specific inventory; after that, the inventory was sold. It is incredible to have those insights for consumers and see that data is invaluable from a supply chain standpoint and on marketing, brand loyalty, and brand awareness level.
Benedetto and the team were confronted with several naysayers, while some brands said blockchain is nice to have but not a have-to-have. Fast forward to today when the world is still in the throes of a pandemic, undergoing the crisis of supply, and experiencing the damage of a stunted supply chain on businesses—now businesses realize its importance more than ever.
Earlier, most businesses complained that brands weren’t going to sell unused fabrics to each other. Defying all these hurdles, Queen of Raw today works with everyone from fast fashion to luxury couture, fashion brands, and Fortune 500, offering a system for buying and selling material from each other.
How to join Queen of Raw?
Simple and easy, you can be a global brand like J Crew or Gucci, an individual designer, a student or working professional who wants to buy a piece of fabric from anywhere in the world to have it tailormade to your liking. Visit queenofraw.com to create an account. Browse through a range of fabrics from world-famous brands, and purchase what you like. You can buy one yard of fabric, monitor your purchase’s impact on the environment, and become part of the solution. And suppose you made a dress from that fabric, you become part of the Queen of Raw tribe onchain.
Benedetto’s closing remarks aptly resonate with what Queen of Raw stands for. “It is best only when you can do it in an economically profitable way, and that is a big key of how and why we use blockchain. And this is the reason why we do what we do to make it an economic win for everybody,” she said with a smile.
Don’t miss it! Tune in to Stephanie Benedetto, CoinGeek New York panelist, as she speaks about the blockchain in the fashion industry and supply chain. Register to join the eighth CoinGeek Conference, taking place at The Sheraton, Times Square in New York City.
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