What’s in an icon? As part of Thailand NOW’s mission to share authentic insights into all things Thai, we’re spotlighting iconic individuals who have not only excelled in their respective areas, but influenced the complex tapestry of Thailand as it exists today and, in doing so, inspire us to be a part of the fabric of Thai society.
In this Icon NOW interview, we chat with Amorpol Huvanandana and Thamonwan Virodchaiyan, the co-founders of moreloop—a Thai sustainable brand that upcycles waste textiles. They share insights into the ups and downs of dealing with “waste,” the hurdles they’ve overcome, and the surprising sparks of inspiration that kept them going.
In a world where the ever-present specter of climate change casts a shadow over our daily lives, one concern that keeps many of us up at night is the seemingly never-ending waste problem. Recent data projects a daunting figure for 2023: 158.9 million tonnes of plastic waste, with a disheartening 43% expected to end up mismanaged.
Amidst these disconcerting numbers, one entrepreneur, Amorpol, embarked on a mission to challenge the status quo. His journey traces back to his primary school days when the longevity of plastic waste first began to trouble his young mind.
“I’d get these scary thoughts like, ‘What if all this plastic takes over the world?’ And now, 30 years later, it’s coming true,” says Amorpol.
During a time when Amorpol found himself at a crossroads, unsure of which industry to pursue, a long-standing acquaintance, Thamonwan, entered the scene.
“I wanted to do something related to the circular economy—be it plastic or any waste,” Amorpol recalls. “Thamonwan owned an apparel company and mentioned having some textile waste that needed managing.” And thus, the journey of moreloop began.
moreloop has a two-fold strategy to combat the fashion industry’s environmental footprint. They sell surplus fabrics on their online marketplace, connecting designers and makers to reduce textile waste. Additionally, they upcycle surplus materials into new, unique products to minimize environmental impact.
“We started small, sourcing surplus fabric from just five factories, and gradually expanded our reach as our project gained traction,” says Thamonwan.
Unsurprisingly, moreloop’s path was fraught with challenges. It’s not unexpected, given their focus on “waste.” Consumers often associate surplus materials with defects or low quality, expecting them to be sold at significantly lower prices. Worse, there is often no possibility of acquiring more of the same material, even if a buyer desires a larger quantity.
“People were skeptical about whether such a business model could ever be practical.”
“It’s often difficult to meet certain expectations, and people were skeptical about whether such a business model could ever be practical,” Thamonwan admits.
Thamonwan and Amorpol quickly realized that altering their marketing approach was essential for success. “We began to highlight the idea that every order would be a one-of-a-kind creation due to the inherent limitations of these materials,” says Thamonwan.
Today, “waste” fabric on the moreloop platform is no longer labeled as dead stock or devoid of value. It has been rebranded as surplus stock, highlighting the untapped potential within these patiently waiting materials. In a creative twist, moreloop even introduced a Valentine’s Day collection featuring fabrics referred to as “our lonely pink,” connecting with people on an emotional level.
Certainly, the worldwide zero-waste movement has also played a significant role in moreloop’s expansion. Additionally, Thamonwan and Amorpol emphasize the impact of China’s 2018 “National Sword” policy, which limited specific waste imports and brought greater focus to waste management.
Soon enough, moreloop didn’t have to be the first one knocking on factory doors. Some of them reached out to moreloop after following their progress online. This made the conversation smoother since they already had some knowledge about their work. “We could then easily guide them on the types of fabrics, volumes, colors, and pricing strategies that would work best to sell or upcycle their surplus materials,” says Amorpol.
“At one point, I had serious doubts and even considered giving up.”
Today, moreloop is working with nearly 80 factories. “It is overwhelming to think that we are where we are today. At one point, I had serious doubts and even considered giving up,“ admits Amorpol.
When he confided in his father about quitting, his father urged him to give it his all. Amorpol chose to persist. A few months later, moreloop discovered another revenue stream through corporate product sales, propelling their journey to success.
“We’re about to hit the mark of saving 1 million kilograms of CO2.”
Today, moreloop has saved approximately 60,000 kilograms of upcycled fabric from going to waste. This translates into a significant reduction of CO2 emissions, nearly 950,000 kilograms. “We’re about to hit the mark of saving one million kilograms of CO2,” Amorpol expresses proudly. For context, it would take 100,000 full-grown trees an entire year to absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide.
Entrepreneurial journeys can be sparked by inspiration from various sources, and Amorpol and Thamonwan’s stories are perfect examples.
A few years back, Amorpol finally took a vacation after years of non-stop work. One morning, he woke up by the beach and stumbled upon a breathtaking scene: a clear sky, a visible moon, and a tranquil sea. “In Mother Nature, I’ve seen endless possibilities and felt the urgency of conserving it,” he reflects.
As for Thamonwan, during one of the most challenging periods in her life, she read Blake Mycoskie’s book, “Start Something That Matters,” which focused on creating a company that makes an impact and gives back. She was inspired by the idea of doing something meaningful if she ever had the chance, although she didn’t know what or how at the time.
“I wouldn’t change a thing because every step, good or bad, has contributed to where we are today.”
“I started moreloop with Amorpol, and I realized that our work had a more significant impact than we initially thought. If I could change anything looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing because every step, good or bad, has contributed to where we are today,” Thamonwan says, with a hint of emotion.
moreloop is on a mission to transform not just its platform but the very fabric of the industry. In the coming years, they’ll focus on weaving connections with more sellers, thus enriching options for customers, and simplifying their path toward zero waste. But their story doesn’t stop there; they’re setting sail for new horizons, focused on the ASEAN region, where challenges meet opportunities.
With a radiant optimism, Amorpol declares, “This isn’t just about expansion; it’s about sparking meaningful change.”