Elevator Pitch: Denise Ho on Sustainable Styling with Kitdo
CAREERS

Elevator Pitch: Denise Ho, Founder of Styling Product and Brand, Kitdo

Amidst the era of mass produced, fast-fashion garments, consumers are starting to move towards more sustainable shopping habits, whether that be through upcycling garments, buying long-lasting staples, or boycotting unethical fast-fashion brands. With conscious fashion practices taking the world by a storm, the demand for items which assist sustainable fashion practices are becoming increasingly popular amongst millennial and gen Z shoppers.

According to Gitnux, the ethical fashion market is expected to grow from US$7.5 million in 2022 to just under US$17 million in 2032, at a compound annual growth rate of 8.6%. In addition, a 2020 survey found that 82% of fashion professionals believed that sustainability is critical to the future of the fashion industry – indicating a need for a radical shift in the existing garment production and sale cycle.

This opportunity was not lost on Denise Ho, founder of Kitdo. As a stylist, Denise often struggled to find a solution that would allow her to alter clothes without damaging the garment itself. She resolved to create an accessory that would allow her to transform and restyle a look to heighten the re-wearability of your existing closet.

Specially designed with strong-hold magnet inserts, Kitdo allows you to bond and loop fabrics however you please, kicking up the wearing potential of each item you own. From band tees to couture gowns, Kitdo encourages you to experiment with your wardrobe and love your clothes for longer.

The Beat Asia spoke to Denise about her venture, how she was inspired to start Kitdo, and what lessons she’s learned along the way.

Elevator Pitch Denise Ho 1


What's your 'story'? What led you to fashion?  

 My mom was a buyer for Jean Paul Gaultier in the 90s so growing up I was often surrounded by the people, the clothes, and conversations within the fashion industry. I remember being fascinated by everything and dreaming about being a fashion designer. Until I became a design assistant in New York, and I realized that it wasn’t for me.

Then I enrolled in a fashion marketing course in London and got a chance to assist Sarah Richardson, who taught me everything about fashion styling. That happened 20 years ago, and I have been a fashion stylist ever since.

In between styling, I have also started two brands, consulted for sustainable labels, and collaborated with Redress. Through all these experiences, I realised that now is the right time to create a unique restyling accessory. And in 2021, Kitdo was launched.

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What pain point is KITDO out to solve in the fashion industry? 

 There are a few challenges that I want Kitdo to help resolve.

First, we are currently not utilizing all the pieces in our wardrobe, with only 10 to20% being worn.  Secondly, we are going through this "under-wearing culture", meaning clothing only are worn seven times or less before being discarded. Both contribute directly to the massive waste issue. 

According to WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Program), an extra nine months of active use of a garment would reduce [the] carbon, water, and waste footprints by around 20–30% [per item]. With so much waste generated each year, I created Kitdo because it’s time to make a change.  

I believe Kitdo can trigger individual creativity and imagination while extending the longevity of your clothes. Just imagine a world where everyone restyles more and the positive impact it will have on the overall global waste issue. Furthermore, I also see Kitdo as a very unique product that has won five international design awards. 

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Can you share a story about a mistake you made starting this venture? What lessons did you take away from this?  

 When I first started, my cash flow wasn’t very well managed, and I spent money on areas that weren’t necessary. I guess the takeaway from this is that when you first start a business, you must be as lean as possible and try to do everything yourself to save costs.

Honestly, if things are not perfect in the beginning, it’s totally fine because there will be so many changes anyway. My main lessons learned are - starting a venture is hard and you will undoubtedly make mistakes, but you need to have confidence in yourself and in your product to learn from your mistakes and move forward.  

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Who have been some of your biggest inspirations or mentors? Can you share a time when they made an impact or helped you with the direction of the product?  

I have a genuine respect for all successful entrepreneurs. If I must pick one, Sarah Blakeley (the founder of Spanx) inspired me deeply to start Kitdo. From how she found her “Ah-ha” moment, to figuring out the R&D process of a simple yet innovative product.  During the development of Kitdo, I didn’t tell anyone (including my husband) to allow myself to be laser-focused and that was inspired by the story of Spanx. 

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Can you share three best pieces of advice that you've collected throughout your time in the fashion industry/career and why they matter to you?  

1.        You must be very passionate because being in fashion is not as glamorous and fun as you see from the outside.  There is an unimaginable amount of blood, sweat, and tears behind it all. Plus, business is getting a lot tougher so think twice before you decide to pour your whole heart into it.   

2.        Put in the time to find your personal style or “your thing”. I think with social media, you can easily get lost in who you are. It’s important to recognize that style is so much more interesting than trends so remember to show your unique self.    

3.        Have empathy and be conscious about what you are putting out there. The world needs more love than ever before, so please make sure you are giving out good energy, and positive work and content out there. Let’s try to inspire each other rather than tearing each other down.  

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How is KITDO going to shake things up next?  

 Kitdo was launched in 2021 and has won five international design awards. It is such an honour to receive global recognition as an innovative product with good design and impact. We have been working on several exciting projects.  The most recent one is with Swire Hotels, recycling the materials from  their in-house uniforms into Kitdo to promote sustainability and restyling. The vision of Kitdo has always been and will always be to establish ourself as the world’s first restyling accessory label, inspire current consumers’ mindset on creating wardrobe newness, and educate future generations on the importance of waste reduction by bringing restyling into the mainstream. 

Shop Kitdo now by clicking here. You can also keep up with their updates on Instagram.

Enjoyed this article? Check out our previous Elevator Pitch profiles here.

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