3 Houston innovators to know about this week

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When the coronavirus pandemic started in 2020, people found themselves at home with a surplus of free time. Puzzles covered the tables in the dining room, remnants of new hobbies were strewn in the dens, TikTok dances were repeated and the television was binge. Maria Burgos found herself watching Netflix’s “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” which inspired her to clean out her closet. By practicing Kondo’s dogma of parting ways with items that don’t “incite joy”, Burgos discovered a bigger problem to purge: the unsustainable fashion industry in the United States.

With piles of clothes ready for a new home, Burgos sought out reliable organizations to donate his possessions. Her research led her to learn more about the negative impact of the fashion industry on the environment.

According Slatealmost 24 billion pounds clothes and shoes are thrown away every year – more than double what we threw away two decades ago. Americans consume more than 20 billion pieces of clothing every year, and each piece of clothing can be expected to be worn about seven times, according to The Wall Street Journal. We buy more clothes than ever when clothes are at their lowest price.

A $17.99 linen crop top from H&M might seem like a steal, but the low price comes at a much higher cost to the environment. Poor quality clothes have a low chance of finding a second hand, and 80% of clothes donated will never be seen seeing a charity shop rack. While some used clothes are recycled as insulation, others end up in containers that overwhelm charities overseas or end up in landfills.

After donating her items to a local church, Burgos sought to be more sustainable and decided to try second-hand shopping.

“The good news was that I had so many options, new with tags, good conditions…the bad news was that it was so much that I ended up getting frustrated because I didn’t have found what I loved,” she says. “I must have spent hours of my time scrolling through thousands of items, dozens of filters, multiple platforms.”

She wondered why there was no website where she could find articles in one place. “It was the genesis of fashionable seconds,” she shares.

Maria Burgos founded Trendy Seconds to streamline second-hand shopping. Photo courtesy

Burgos has always been attracted by entrepreneurial aspirations. The Venezuela native started her first business, a film magazine, while in college. She studied dentistry and graduated with an offer to become a professor at her university, which she turned down to further explore her passion for marketing. After moving to Spain to get an MBA, she gained experience working for big companies like 3M and GlaxoSmithKline.

Living in countries around the world and dipping his toes into different industries, Burgos has earned a unique resume. When she arrived in the United States, she was eager to get her work permit. She got a real estate license and even started working at a startup before having her second child.

“I never have the right profile to do what I’m doing right now, professionally. This is something that I considered years ago as a disadvantage, [but] this has been my advantage because I come with a new set of eyes,” she explains. “I solve problems differently and throw ideas that other people might not,” she continues.

When she thought of Trendy Seconds, Burgos was trying to address the issues she faced while striving to be a conscious consumer.

“I know there are a lot of other women like me trying to make better choices, but right now it’s just too hard,” she says.

She applied and graduated from Founders Institute and won a Frost Bank grant to join Impact Hub Houston’s Accelerator Program.

“The accelerator opened many doors for me and I walked through them all,” she shares.

Burgos launched Trendy Seconds, an online marketplace where women can find second-hand clothes or buy new clothes from sustainable brands. The company shares items from over 50 brands that can be searched by category, style, size, price, condition, and positive impact. To ensure the clothes are of high quality, shoppers will only find gently used or new items featured on Trendy Seconds.

Shoppers can have a much more cultured experience on Trendy Seconds. Image Courtesy

“We work with a fashion stylist to organize the product assortment, because one thing that happens is analysis paralysis. When you have too many choices, you don’t act,” says Burgos.

Trendy Seconds creates wardrobe capsules that include an assortment of versatile styles that can be mixed and matched. Visitors can search for different styles like beachwear, spring/summer, maternity, and special occasions.

Burgos has aligned itself with online second-hand marketplaces as well as durable clothing websites, where shoppers are redirected once they find items to buy. It uses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to vet vendors and determine which brands to include on the website. Among the eco-responsible brands featured are Christy Dawn, Eileen Fisher, Soul Flower and Allbirds.

“Our ultimate goal is to make responsible drinking super easy,” says Burgos.

Trendy Seconds is currently raising funds and Burgos is looking to attract investors as it expands the business.

Going forward, Burgos wants Trendy Seconds to evolve beyond the online marketplace and become a resource for circular fashion.

“The way we envision this is that we will give consumers the opportunity to come to the site and not just buy clothes, but actually buy products and services that can help them extend the lifespan of the clothes they already own,” she shares.

“I think the best way to build a really good, motivated consumer audience is to let them know how they can help,” Burgos says.

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