As regular readers of Annabel & Grace online magazine know, we love to find out the stories behind good brands who sell good value products – especially if they have female founders! In this article we would like to introduce you to Lulu O’Connor, founder of Clothes Doctor…
I’m Lulu O’Connor, Founder and CEO of Clothes Doctor, a clothing care brand. I live in London with my husband, Alex, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Otto, and we’re expecting our first child in April too! (well, first child other than Clothes Doctor of course!)
How did Clothes Doctor come about?
I launched Clothes Doctor as a repairs and alterations service in 2017. I started finding the whole concept of clothing care fascinating after taking a good hard look at my own unsustainable shopping habits whilst working in the City. I went on to discover just how damaging large parts of the fashion industry are to the environment. Much of it is an entirely linear system with no recycling at all, creating vast amounts of waste. Some of this comes from the production side but a lot of it also comes from the consumption side, due to how our generation views clothing as a throwaway product.
I became interested in finding a way of creating a business that would actually encourage people to change their consumption habits, and extend the life of their clothes. This led to the creation of specialist detergents and clothing care products that people could use at home, so that their clothes wouldn’t need repairing so often.
Today, we are a platform to help people extend the life of their clothes by cleaning, protecting, repairing and altering – the way our parents and grandparents did. There is so little information available on the possibilities for repairing garments, and care labels often default to ‘dry clean only’ as a catch-all for how to clean silk, cashmere, wool and many other fabrics. With our products, services and advice, we help people reconnect with their clothing and love their wardrobe again.
What challenges do you face as a female entrepreneur?
There were lots of things I had to overcome – tough challenges like climate action in the modern world, being a female founder in a male-centric arena and the exacting task of creating a brand from nothing. I’m in the process of setting up to become a working mum for the first time, which is bringing a lot of daunting but also exciting opportunities, and I’m super confident that the Clothes Doctor team is ready to take the reins of the business while I’m having a little time off!
What’s your favourite garment in your wardrobe right now, and how do you take care of it?
Now we’re getting ready for Spring I might be wearing it less, but I absolutely adore cashmere. It’s just so breathable but simultaneously incredibly cosy, and it makes me feel luxurious every time I wear it! I have an Olivia von Halle cashmere tracksuit that I’m practically living in, I love it so much.
When it comes to caring for cashmere, I do take extra care just because it’s such a luxurious fabric. I usually hand wash my cashmere with Eco Wash for Cashmere and Wool, and to give it a boost of freshness between washes I’ll use one of our Clothes Doctor Knitwear Mists – my favourite is the cedarwood and vanilla scent. Once in a while I give all my knitwear a once-over with a de-pilling comb as well, to get rid of those annoying bobbles, and just to keep them looking fresh and new.
If you could give one ultimate tip for clothing care, what would it be?
That’s a good question! It may seem counter-intuitive but our number one tip at Clothes Doctor is actually to wash your clothes less; you only need to wash them when they’re dirty! Obviously that will come at different times for different people but generally, we can all manage washing our clothes a little less, thus saving our clothes from wear and tear, and using less energy and water.
What are you other favourite Clothes Doctor products that you’d recommend to your friends?
That’s a tough one, as I designed them all and love them each for different reasons! If you’re really into staying active then our Eco Wash for Sportswear and synthetics is what I recommend to all my gym-goer friends. But I think my absolute favourite all-rounder product is our Basil & Mandarin Leaf Detergent and Fabric Conditioner Set. The scent is absolutely to-die-for, and it really lasts on all your clothes after a wash! Think peppery basil with the fresh, herbal-ness of mandarin leaf; heavenly!
Lulu has very kindly offered A&G readers an exclusive discount. Just use promo code A&G15 for 15% off all products (expires at the end June 2022) at the Clothes Doctor checkout. Visit her website now
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