Entrepreneur Agnes Weber is fascinated by the concept of circularity so it makes sense that her company Mended is built around this idea as it seeks to retell the story of people’s relationship with their clothes.
“I love finding value in the overlooked and making the ordinary matter,” she says.
Agnes is lucky in that she’s been able to translate her personal purpose into her business and make it work. But it hasn’t always been this way.
Like so many female founders before her, Agnes was stuck after her initial success. When she read the Wyseminds’ story of the fictional entrepreneur Sofia she understood why. She recognised herself throughout, nowhere more so than when Sofia is demotivated after her company’s first growth wave.
In this article, Agnes describes her own “Sofia moment” but first, a little about her business Mended which, at its core, is a clothing repair, alteration and resale service. As a brand, however, it’s about so much more.
Ditching the “dusty image of clothes repair”
Mended’s purpose to “build a better way to keep clothes in play” has struck a chord with people who realise that not only does this mean a more sustainable way to live, but that they can get more enjoyment out of their wardrobes by restoring the items inside.
It aims to change perspectives and shed “the dusty image of clothes repair” to attract the growing cohort of people turning their backs on fast fashion in favour of reusing and wise spending in times of global economic turbulence.
For Agnes, the main appeal was that “old clothes can be made to fit better and last longer” through tweaking, adjusting and fixing. She identified a common pain point – people looking at the unworn clothes they’ve owned for years and feeling guilty.
“We’re tapping into that and using a different narrative so that the old jacket that you get fixed, altered or customised, or swapped for a different item, can trigger the same kind of thrill as buying something new.”
The common denominator behind why founders get stuck
As Mended became successful, Agnes noticed the initial buzz that she and her team once enjoyed was fading.
“Objectives were getting bigger. There were lots of changes and I wanted to keep moving forward to the next level but often felt like we were going backwards.”
It’s the mirror image of how Sofia is described as her enthusiasm dissipates beneath the strain of spreadsheets, admin, accounts and to-do lists. While Sofia is a make-believe character created by Wyseminds founder Julie Perkins, Agnes was heartened to discover she wasn’t the only one feeling this way.
“While your business may be unique, its growth pattern is most definitely not,” says Julie. “The important part is learning how to recognise when this is happening so you can take action to continue growing your business with new tools that will support you through the next growth period.”
Trapped on the business hamster wheel
For Agnes, the reason she was stuck was obvious. “I’d stepped away from the thing I enjoyed most – the front-of-house story-telling, marketing and content promotion. When the business got busy, more important jobs had to be done and I was learning things that weren’t natural to me. It was draining and things weren’t working for me that way.”
In Sofia’s story, the processes at Dragon Backpacks haven’t changed because there’s no time and she finds herself trapped on a hamster wheel of problem-solving. Her priorities have changed; the focus is now on sales as she attempts to repeat the first wave of growth. As Sofia moves further away from her true purpose, she and her team spiral into directionless confusion.
Building a better business with the purpose toolkit
The unconscious script for Agnes had become about growing up and being serious. “There was no time for play, and playfulness is one of my biggest values. I found it very hard.”
She’d once looked at values and purpose as fluffy, nice-to-have additions for her marketing messages but Julie taught her how to use them as tools to keep her focus sharp. These practices are outlines in Julie’s book The Wyseway, available to buy here or free if you register on the Wyseminds course Your Journey.
Bringing in an operations manager helped alleviate some of the serious stuff and freed Agnes to expand her business. She now has a regular practice that she channels in times of uncertainty.
“Whenever I’m in doubt, I return to our purpose and reason back from there. It brings everything and everyone back to this same point of truth. I find it really powerful. I’ve realised that the more I suppress my values, the less I enjoy my day-to-day life, the less stuff I get done and the less impact I create.”
Would you like a copy of the book A founders’ story and learn from Sofia and her entrepreneurial growth journey?
You can get it in our shop for € 10,00 now or for free by joining our programme on Your Journey, here.