A Newport-based sustainable clothing company is encouraging businesses of all sizes to consider apprenticeships to help create a future pipeline of talent and build a new generation of industry leaders.
The Welsh Government is offering funding of up to £4,000 for each apprentice an employer recruits in a bid to support businesses and workers in recovering from the impacts of coronavirus.
Loopster Ltd is a digital platform which sells high street and designer second-hand clothing for a fraction of retail price. It aims to extend the life of fashion by making it quicker and more convenient to buy and sell second hand clothes than other platforms like eBay.
Leading a small team of eight, Jane Fellner, who is the founder and managing director of Loopster, has taken advantage of the latest financial incentives by recruiting an apprentice to support their customer service and digital roles.
Jane said: “We recruited our first apprentice, Rosie, in November 2020 and haven’t looked back. Having an apprentice has allowed us to expand our business while reducing our recruitment costs at the same time.
“A year on, Rosie now has unique insight into the detail of the organisation and can turn her hand to anything – from e-commerce, customer service, social media, to even a bit of modelling!
“Our mission is to extend the life of fashion and to make shopping and selling second-hand garments easy and accessible to all. The UK alone sends £140 million, or 350 tonnes worth of discarded garments to landfill each year, so we’re building a circular solution to change the way people buy and sell second hand.
“Rosie brings a positive and refreshing energy to the team and has contributed significantly towards the team ethos – we really value her input.”
Established in 2017 as a platform for second hand children’s clothes, Loopster expanded its customer base in August 2020 and moved into the women’s clothing space. The company is now focusing on reaching a more diverse audience.
“As a sustainable fashion enterprise, our primary mission is to make fashion more circular. But raising awareness of this is also fundamental and one of our goals is to reach a younger, more diverse adult audience.
“Rosie has given us a fresh insight into industry trends and how we can implement this, she set up a TikTok account for us which is already very popular with young people and not something we’d considered before. Through TikTok, she has helped us reach a new audience and given us a new perspective on how we promote ourselves.”
The Welsh Government has recently announced a package of incentives to encourage employers to recruit apprentices. The incentives will help to ensure crucial employment opportunities for apprentices in Wales, while supporting businesses to hire, train and develop new staff.
Jane said: “We took advantage of the financial support to recruit an apprentice and received £3,000 which supported her training and development. It’s such a good incentive – especially for SMEs who are looking to expand their workforce. Having an apprentice has been transformational and we’re in the process of recruiting another.”
Rosie – who is doing Level 2 Apprenticeship in Business Administration – is now a full-time employee at Loopster. Talking about her experience, Rosie said:
“After finishing school, I knew I wanted to get into the workplace straight away, I found an opportunity with Loopster through the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship Vacancy Service.
“My apprenticeship has allowed me to challenge myself creatively, learn new skills, and grow my passion for fashion and sustainability.
“Since completing my apprenticeship, I’ve started a full-time position at Loopster as an e-commerce operative which I’m able to fully embrace as I already have a sound understanding of the business.”
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “This Welsh Government has ambitious post-Covid recovery plans. We want Wales to become an engine for sustainable, inclusive growth, with an economy based on sustainable jobs in the new green industries of tomorrow that will take us forward into the next century.
“I believe providing more apprenticeships will be vital if we are to achieve this ambition. So that’s why the new Welsh Government has committed to creating a further 125,000 all-age apprenticeship places over the next five years.
“Apprenticeships can help futureproof, motivate and diversify a workforce – offering people the chance to grow their career from day one through on-the job training and experience. They also make a significant contribution to our economy, so we have invested a further £18.7 million to extend incentives to support businesses with cost-effective recruitment.
“We are a small country but we have big ambitions, and our aim is to create a culture in Wales where recruiting an apprentice becomes the norm for employers. I encourage all employers to consider applying for funding under our Employer Incentive Scheme before it ends on September 30th.”