My favorite food is: The Filipino delicacy Balut My dream dinner guest would be: Beyoncé
Making the shift to thrift easier for everyone
AN ENLIGHTENING MOMENT. Joseph Undaloc's company is helping solve sustainability challenges by assisting people in shopping secondhand online. He founded his business, Loma, after learning the extent to which the clothing industry is damaging the planet while studying for his degree in International Product Management in London. "Once I discovered how clothes are made, I didn't want to work in the same industry."
Aware that the world was facing an imminent raw materials crisis, Joseph turned to thrifting, but the abundance of online stores quickly soured the experience. Enter Loma: a platform Joseph built to act as a thrift marketplace. Users search for a product, brand or theme, and Loma will collate results from all the major secondhand and rental sites, from eBay and Etsy to Depop and Freecycle.
"Secondhand is going to be a big part of our lives - it's going to be bigger than fast fashion. Helping people do that easily and encouraging them towards kinder ways of consumption keeps me motivated to push Loma forward. I can see that this is valuable, not only for people like me who want to save a few dollars here and there but also for the future of the economy."
From a young age, while growing up in the Philippines, Joseph knew he'd end up starting a company. Coming from a disadvantaged background, his dad – an entrepreneur himself – ingrained into him the value of establishing his own business. "He always said, 'you can build your dream, or you can build someone else's. I was lucky I had a good academic background, but also, this was an issue I felt incredibly passionate about." Joseph pitched the concept to his college course leader and received a small grant to get the business up and running.
DEDICATED TO THE CAUSE. While Joseph puts the success of Loma down to its laser-like focus on solving a problem, he's also proud of his work ethic and stamina when it comes to scaling the business. "Being a founder is hard work; it's not glamorous at all. But coming from my background, I often remind myself that this isn't the hardest thing I've gone through. Even when I'm exhausted and start questioning myself, I always have that in the back of my head."
Joseph admits his identity as a gay man has sometimes made him feel self-conscious during his startup journey, particularly when fundraising for Loma. "I used to make sure I was talking and dressing in a certain way, like taking my earring off. I think most gay men learn, in mostly unpleasant ways, to have their guard up in male-dominant spaces and my fundraising journey was no different, unfortunately.”
Joseph hopes Loma will not only make its mark on the circular economy but also help change perceptions of how we consume and, ultimately, help us learn to value things more. "In my ideal world, I'd like everyone to slow down a little bit and realize that most things that can make us happy are free, like spending time with our family and the people we love and having a sense of community. Everything else, really, is a nice add-on."