Rent clothes; reduce waste
Female Entrepreneur of the Year Sigrun Syverud’s Fjong Norge provides access to a trove of new and vintage clothing items
Sigrun Syverud, 32, founded the future-oriented technology company FJONG AS. On March 8, she won the Female Entrepreneur of the Year award. The prize was instituted by Innovation Norway 10 years ago. For the last four years, the prize has focused on technology, reuse, and sustainability. The prize was handed out by Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry Torbjørn Røe Isaksen.
One of Syverud’s followers sent a big congratulations to her for taking away the award, stating on social media that he “just loved the way she showed us all that it is possible to combine tech, fashion, and sustainability. Thank you for being an important role model for us all, and especially your dedication toward equality for all. You rock!”
Norwegians have a lot of clothes, each of us having about 175 pounds worth. We throw away almost double what we did 15 years ago. The average person has 359 different items in their wardrobe. Twenty percent of these are unused. A few years ago, Syverud and co-founder Marie Ameln wanted to do something about this. Their vision was to transform the world’s second most polluting, $1.7 trillion global fashion industry by introducing a convenient way to rent and share clothes. They wanted to reinvent the way people consume, by providing rentals from a limitless, virtual closet. Their goal was to be their customers’ digital stylist, matching them with personalized outfits that make it easy to save both money and the environment, without compromising style.
In just over a year, they have organically grown their user base to 25,000 plus users and have over 4,000 items to rent. They also doubled the Norwegian record in crowdfunding with an 83 percent female investor base. Their goal of NOK 3.5 million was surpassed with NOK 8 million. Now, they are about to expand internationally and improve their platform’s technological sophistication.
Syverud has a Master of Business Administration in finance from NHH in Bergen, attended summer school at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, where she was also the chair of the student association. Before starting her own company, she worked in business development and finance.
Today, the company closet includes over 4,000 articles of new and vintage designer women’s clothing from over 200 brands worldwide. According to its home page, you just have to find your style. They find outfits you love, check availability, and make bookings on their platform. You get access to a collection of new and vintage designer women’s clothing in good quality and condition. The startup carries items for special occasions and everyday wear.
At the end of the rental, you simply slip the item into the pre-paid packaging and return it by mail.
You get access to a variety of high-quality outfits for a fraction of the cost of buying, you save closet space, and you say goodbye to fast fashion and the pollution and waste it creates! You can also lend your clothes to FJONG.
Last year, Crown Princess Mette Marit presented the Female Entrepreneur of the Year award in New York. She said that she was glad to be there, and to feel the energy from the Nordic hub. “I hope more Norwegians will find their way to new markets and to inspiring communities like this one,” she said. “Norway would like to see even more female tech entrepreneurs with high ambitions.”
Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.
This article originally appeared in the April 19, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.