SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – With 2023 just days away, many of us are making a list of new year’s resolutions. If one of yours is to include more sustainable practices in your life — three women from the University of South Dakota might have just what you need.
Going from store to store to find the perfect outfit can be exhausting — especially when you’re going to thrift or vintage stores. Doing so online is even more of a hunt. That’s why three friends from USD created something easier.
“Fomeno is an app where you can thrift from a bunch of different online thrift, vintage, upcycle shops. So we bring a bunch of different inventory into one location so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for,” Fomeno co-founder Payton Ryz said.
Created by Brigit Blote, Payton Ryz and Ashlynn Atwood, Fomeno allows you to scroll through outfit inspirations or search for something specific. Once you find it, just click. From there, you’ll get recommendations for items from more than 50 different online thrift store partners. Click once more and you’re exactly where you need to be to make a purchase.
“We’re just trying to really simplify that process online and help connect people so that we’re making the fashion industry more circular because fast fashion is like super detrimental to our environment,” Ryz said.
Fast fashion is the term for inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Minimizing fast fashion is at the heart of the mission of Fomeno.
“A lot of people don’t even realize that a basic cotton t-shirt uses the same amount of water that someone drinks in three years. So it’s like a crazy amount of resources that takes to produce new clothes,” Ryz said. “Also, these clothes are being produced in factories across the country that we don’t necessarily see day-to-day. They’re working under harsh conditions, getting paid less than a living wage. So kind of stopping that cycle of this mass production of clothes that bought and then maybe someone will wear them a couple times and then they’ll be poor quality so they throw them out. Or they just end up in the thrift shops.”
To start their mission, the three friends applied for the Hult Prize, a competition that crowd-sources ideas from university-level students after challenging them to solve a pressing social issue — such as sustainability.
“At the end of all that, we ended up being one of the eleven people that they chose to win a hundred thousand dollars. So that was really cool, like so incredible, really kickstarted everything,” Ryz said.
From there, they expanded their team and hired Annie Lien as a style curator.
“It’s been so fun because I’ve got to meet people across the globe with so many different styles and personalities and interests and just outlooks on life. It’s been so exciting,” Lien said.
This past November, they finally launched the Fomeno app.
“That was almost three years after we had first started the competition,” Ryz said. “It was a long journey but I think that’s the startup life. You keep grinding away and eventually, it clicks. We’ve really been thankful to have a new development and tech team on board.”
“If you choose to shop second-hand, like that little choice in your everyday life is making such a huge difference,” Lien said. “So just the slightest little change in your consumer habit can make an enormous impact on the globe and the people who live in it.”
Hear from Payton Ryz how Fomeno got its unique name:
Four young, female entrepreneurs leaving a greener footprint on this Earth.
“We like to brand ourselves as a ‘do good’ company because that is our goal,” Lien said. “We want to help the planet and we want to help the people on the planet because we’d like to preserve it for our children to have and for their children to have. Fighting against the fast fashion industry is one of our big goals.”
“So we always want to keep that mission at core,” Ryz said.
The Fomeno app is available now to download on Apple devices.