Insight: How Lydia Hartley Built the World's First Gamified Clothes Swapping Platform

This week, we are joined by the founder of clothes swapping platform Don't Shop, Swap! Lydia Hartley, who walks us through the story of how she built the world's first gamified fashion sharing platform.
Insight: How Lydia Hartley Built the World's First Gamified Clothes Swapping Platform - DMY BY DMY

Featuring Lydia Hartley (@dont_shop_swap) in the Preston (Transparent Olive)

Can you tell us a bit about Don't Shop, Swap?

Don't Shop, Swap is the world's first gamified clothes swapping platform, where the next generation comes to share clothes. We aim to empower people to experiment with different looks all year round without buying anything 'new' or spending unnecessary cash - helping them enjoy guilt-free, affordable, and sustainable fashion. 

Where did the idea stem from, and how did you initially set out to build the platform?

The idea behind Don't Shop, Swap was a long time coming. As a teenager, I was a fast fashion addict. I spent all of my money on cheap clothes for nights out and had huge wardrobe clear outs every couple of months because it became so cluttered with low-quality items I didn't want. So, I thought there should be an easier way to get value back on the clothes you don't want anymore, and ultimately a way to get new garments using your old ones. When I moved to London, I learned about clothes swapping and started running pop-up events for my friends. Then, when COVID cancelled all social gatherings, I decided to build the online version of the events, which became the Don't Shop, Swap platform! 

Can you tell us more about your London pop-up events? Do you plan on opening a more permanent, physical space for the platform, and if so, what kind of space would you want to create?

Absolutely. We host pop-up events in our Hackney studio and other locations in London every couple of months. Event-goers can swap their clothes, enjoy complimentary drinks, DJ sets, and browse the rails of our event partners, who usually are resellers of vintage designer clothes & accessories. We plan to host a flagship pop-up this summer with lots of extra surprises, so watch this space!

What are the biggest challenges you face as an entrepreneur?

I would say it's trying to get the word out about your mission when it's only you working on the business. It can sometimes feel like you are pushing a boulder up a mountain! But when the push works, it's deeply satisfying!

What advice would you give to someone hoping to start their own business?

I'd say take it in small steps and don't be worried about everything being perfect or even that good when you start. I believe in learning as you go and not caring too much about what other people think.

What is your future vision for Don't Shop, Swap?

My vision for Don't Shop, Swap is for it to become the most extensive fashion sharing ecosystem in the UK and, eventually, the world.

Lydia's Round of Speed Dating with DMY

1. What is your go-to drink?

2. What was the last thing you Googled?
'Kanye West girlfriend'

3. What was the last book you read
Just Kids by Patti Smith

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Lisbon! I really want to move there one day.

5. What is your favourite TV show?
This is so basic, but I am obsessed with Below Deck.

6. What would be your ideal date?
Cocktails & bowling at Rowans in Finsbury Park.

7. What's your guilty pleasure?
Mars Chocolate Milk.

8. What's the best and worst purchase you've ever made?
Best: My vibrator.
Worst: A juicer that I never use.

9. What was your first concert?
S Club 7.

10. Make a party playlist with only 3 songs:
La Bouche ‘Be My Lover’
Deee-Lite ‘Groove is in the Heart’
ABBA ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)’