»The Repair Rebels are a network of craft businesses that repair clothing and shoes. They combine contemporary online service with local players and sustainable action. Items are collected by bike, repaired, and returned a few days later. The practical website gives information on the service and the firms providing it. The message is clear: it’s better to repair or alter an item than recycle it.«

Prof. em. Anna Berkenbusch

Three questions for Dr. Monika Hauck, Founder & CEO of Repair Rebels GmbH

How did the idea for Repair Rebels come about?
The idea for Repair Rebels is deeply rooted in its Founder’s Dr. Monika Hauck’s childhood. She grew up in Lithuania and learned the skill of making and repairing clothes from her mother and grandmothers. Following her Ph.D. research in Open Innovation in the Fashion Industry, she realized that the industry was based on a very linear business model and that consumers often find fashion repairs too exhaustive or unfashionable. This led to the idea of making the fashion repair offering digital - booking a repair should be as easy as buying a new garment from an online store, just more local and social.

What was your personal highlight in the development process of Repair Rebels? Was there a low point?
As every new company, you have periods of doubt. Are we on the right track; are we creating value? We persevered because the idea of Repair Rebels has always been bigger than business or personal ambition. Here, good customer feedback and personal stories of how we could save sentimental fashion pieces make our work feel very special and, of course, the German Ecodesign Award also gave us a lot of encouragement! The low point for us was hearing people say that impact business is not a good business, and that “Fashion Repair” is only a niche market. On the positive side, this gave us extra motivation to prove them wrong!

Where do you see your project in the next five years?
With Repair Rebels, we want to contribute to a behavioral and cultural change that will make people not feel ashamed, but rather proud to wear their repaired clothing. People already talk in clubs and bars about their vintage treasures; in the future, we hope to add repairs and upcycling to this spectrum. Likewise, we want to preserve the skills and revive the local craftsmanship in Germany. With the use of digital tools and business model innovation, we aim to make the repair market more efficient, convenient, and economically attractive for the new generation of talent.