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Gerrard Fisher

Gerrard's been working on circular business models for a long time - driving a huge EU-funded project called REBus (over 10 years ago now!) and working with brands and businesses on circular change ever since.

He loves the "lightbulb moment" when clients realise how much better circular business models can be for their companies.

His background is in process engineering, operational management and bootstrapping businesses.

Kristina Bull

Kristina is focused on working with companies to identify and implement circular business models - working from idea creation, identifying the right model for a company at the right time; developing the customer offer and experience through to identifying project partners to help deliver a circular model.

Listen to the episode

Tune in to find out about the role of circular business models and also about:


  • The importance of reducing consumption and the challenges of implementing circular business models.
  • Gerrard and Kristina explain how they help companies switch to rental, sharing, or service models in various industries, such as fashion and electronics, to sell less stuff and make more money.
  • The need for involving everyone in the company in the transition to circularity is emphasized, highlighting the importance of technology, finance, and legal departments.
  • QSA's analogy between digital natives and circular natives, which illustrates the systemic change that is necessary for achieving circularity.
  • Circularity, specifically the role that various industries, such as fashion and tire companies, can play in reducing consumption and waste through circular business models.
  • The importance of taking experience and knowledge from other systems and sectors and applying them to support circularity.
  • The steps businesses can take towards circularity, such as resale, and how understanding the benefits of these steps can help companies move towards larger systemic changes.
  • And much more!


S7E3 Audiogram image

Emily Swaddle  00:01

Hello, and welcome back to HappyPorch Radio. This is season seven. Today, Barry and I have been joined by Gerrard Fisher and Kristina Bull from QSA Partners. QSA helps businesses to reduce consumption by switching to circular business models. They've worked with big brands all over the world and their mission is to help businesses make more money by selling less stuff. I love that mission. And it seems sort of counterintuitive to like so much of what's ingrained  in our minds and the way the world should work. But we have some really interesting and sort of unique examples today in this conversation.

Barry O'Kane  00:43

Yeah, QSA, Jarred, and Kristina are just really fun as well, and bring so much energy and positivity to this conversation. And I really like the fact that they've got a very clear understanding that consumption, and we need to reduce consumption, and we need to make these big systemic changes. They also live in a world where we can't just flick a switch to make that happen. So we talked really about how to make that a step by step journey, small experiments to get there, the problems and the challenges, and the different types of businesses and people who are coming at this from different angles.

Emily Swaddle  01:14

And also involving everyone, from the very beginning. You know, everyone within a company, Kristina said from the outset of the conversation that that's what she likes to do is involve everybody in this transition, because the whole company really has to be on board, which I thought was really, really important, just super important way to go about this transition.

Barry O'Kane  01:33

Yeah, 100%. And I think that's also the place where a lot of what we talk about in this podcast, or where I come from, where we come from this podcast is about. It's the things like the technology, the enablers. So the people who write the technology, people write the software, create the digital tools, how understanding circularity and how there is an opportunity for us to get involved in circularity, in order to solve problems for businesses, and for our clients and for more. But also she touched on when you say everybody should touch on IT, and Finance and the whole

Emily Swaddle  02:04

 Legal department and everyone.

Barry O'Kane  02:08

And like I said, it's also fun, it's fun talking to the both of them, they really understand what they're talking about. And they bring a lot of passion and energy to it. We also have touched on, for the listeners, make sure you check out and listen to their analogy of between digital natives and circular natives, I think that's a really fascinating avenue to explore.

Emily Swaddle  02:25

Yeah, and really like paints the picture of this big change, you know, this systemic change, I think sometimes it can be difficult to like, grasp what we mean by like systemic change. And then using like, the digital transition, as an example of that, as a framework. It really helps me personally to sort of get my head around like, Oh, this is the kind of change we could be aiming for, and maybe bigger than that, or or, you know, broader than that or whatever. But to have some yardstick by which to understand a transition of this scale is really helpful.

Barry O'Kane  03:00

Absolutely. So I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did. And without any further ado, let's meet Kristina and Gerrard.

Gerrard Fisher  03:06

Hi, I'm Gerrard Fisher from QSA partners. We're a certified B Corporation. And we specialise in helping businesses switch to circular business models, which is essentially to say we help people make more money by selling less stuff. We help them switch to rental or sharing or service business models. And we do it across a range of different industries, fashion, electronics, all sorts of different areas, and all sizes of companies as well.

Kristina Bull  03:33

Hi, my name is Kristina Bull, and I am a partner at QSA partners with Gerrard.

Barry O'Kane  03:37

Excellent, and welcome both to HappyPorch Radio. 

Kristina Bull  03:40

Thank you for having us.

Barry O'Kane  03:41

 So as we like to sort of set the scene a little bit, I guess will be interesting to explore a little bit about what led you to where you are now, what led to QSA and the work and this mission towards circularity that you're on.

Gerrard Fisher  03:57

I started in sustainability, probably back in about 2005. I'd been working in the chemical sector, and decided I wanted to do something a bit more impactful in sustainability. I moved to an organisation that was doing market development on recycling, because I was working in product area electronics, where it's a long life product. So you don't necessarily just want to recycle it, you need to look at extending its lifespan. And that took me on to looking at business models and extend product lifetimes, and so got into circular business models over a decade ago, long time ago now. And so I've been working on different ways of making better products and making them last longer and use more intensively ever since then.

Kristina Bull  04:39

And I started my career as trained to be a lawyer and decided that that wasn't the path for me and I wasn't quite suited to a corporate life. I joined an organisation called WRAP which is the Waste of Resources Action Programme and helped launch industry level initiatives to help improve carbon water and waste impacts in those industries and then started working with the clothing industry and brought SCAP, which is their Sustainable Clothing Action Plan to life and realised that quite a lot of the activity and consumption within the clothing industry is vast. And in order to reduce our environmental impacts, we have to reduce consumption, which then led me through to actually understanding we need to reduce consumption and therefore let's look at alternative ways in which people can still consume or still access clothing, but in a different way. And circular business models is the best way to do that. So rental subscription, resale.

Barry O'Kane  05:37

Awesome, it's kind of fun to try and bring some of that to life, what's your favourite example or story of a business or that sort of large scale change, whether it's a business model success, or something like that, that kind of demonstrates where we're trying to get more people to go.

Kristina Bull  05:52

Mine's a very amazing ski brand called FW, Forward. They are part of a larger brand called Faction Skis. And they were launching a ski wear company, FW. And they, they wanted to embed circularity at the very heart of what they were doing. And they wanted to look at how different options we worked with them to kind of look at all different possible circular models. And to get the first one going, we looked at repair. So repair within ski wear is really important, because it's an opportunity, you know, people are on the slopes, they have very old attachments to the clothing that they wear, you know, that is the first time they've did a black run,  they've got war wounds on their coats, and their clothing. So actually repair really lends itself to being brilliant for active wear. And we help build their circular, their global repair model for that brand. And as well as it'd be really embedding what they wanted to do within circularity and starting on that path, they actually understood that there was opportunities for other financial benefits that they weren't aware of at the outset, which is brilliant.

Gerrard Fisher  07:05

My favourite example was the tire company we worked with. And we sort of went in and said, Hey, how about you stop selling tires, which were a tire company, it's a bit of a, bit of a leap of faith. But actually they were a company that was buying tires and retreading them. And their customers were trying to force prices down and their costs were going up. And it just wasn't going to be a great long term business. When we looked at the whole system with them, we looked at their customer's needs, and the customer's needs was efficiently running trucks. And the biggest part of the cost there was fuel. And so actually, if we could work away for them to make tires that help reduce fuel costs, they could charge more for their tires, and we shifted them away from selling tires to selling miles of service. And now they operate the truck fleet service operation for tires. And they know exactly where all the tires are, what state they're in, and they can fix any truck in the UK anywhere within an hour, they can replace a tire on it, if it needs it. But the idea is, it never gets to that stage, they always replace the tires before they need, you know, fully wear out completely. So it's totally changing the way they think about their business and about what their customer needs. So I think that's, that's one of my favourite examples.

Kristina Bull  08:17

And the other added benefit of that organisation or that company was that they also looked at the way in which their tires were designed. So they redesigned the tire because it was used for home delivery services, lots of companies doing home delivery, and those drivers curb the tires, the vans all the time. So actually, they looked at the strengthening the outer side of those tires. So as well as having an amazing circular business model, they also looked at the circular aspects of the design.

Emily Swaddle  08:46

That's really cool. I just got an image in my head of like, of these trucks, getting their tires changed, like as if they're on like Formula One. Yeah, it stops, you know, like, it happens in seconds and it's done.

Gerrard Fisher  09:02

And the beauty of it is- it's in their interest to do that kind of thing. Because the customer wants to truck on the road again. So yeah, they totally aligned themselves with that mission.

Emily Swaddle  09:12

So I love this sort of concept of stepping back and thinking, Okay, let's just start from the very basics of what do our customers need, being able to do that, as a business, you have to have quite a lot of resources, right? Like you have to be able to put the time in, and then maybe even money to change, potentially, like the fundamental infrastructure of your business. So do you feel like it's sort of a big ask in that way?

Gerrard Fisher  09:40

It can be, depending on the size of the business. And you've got to have a champion in the business who really wants to drive the change that the bigger the company, the bigger the challenge, in which case you need board level support and ideally in any business, you'd have some- the absolute senior people supporting it any way. I think it's challenging for bigger companies who have potentially gone so mass market that they've drifted away from their customer, really, and they don't really understand the customer's needs and desires and feelings about sustainability and those sorts of things. And they need to re-engage with them and understand how they can properly aligned with what with what those people want. We've seen that with many fashion brands, you know, they're selling to mass market, they're selling enough product, but they don't actually know in detail who their customers are in that segmentation, you know,  who might want rental, who wants to sell stuff back to them, who wants to share things with other, you know, local people who liked the same brand, that does take a bit of effort to understand that.

Barry O'Kane  10:41

So it takes that level of change, or that motivation, that's what you're saying. But I also liked where you started before where you talked about reducing consumption, but that can also bring successful business successes, right? And you talked about the financial side, and so on, as well. Do you find that you're only working with people who get that, if you see what I mean? Or is there a kind of education or we need to explain it pitch it, kind of really educate as well.

Kristina Bull  11:08

I would say we work with both, and I think that we have different degrees, also speed of success, depending on how quickly they understand it. Certainly with bigger organisation, bigger companies that are more embedded with selling more stuff, as you know, they tend to have a linear model. So whilst we do, and it's not just a single linear model, they have linear systems as well. So their finance system is linear, they're marketing system is linear. So as part of that, you have to unpick, so when we talk to brands, we always want to engage with marketing, finance, production, IT and Legal very early on, because we have to ingrain all of those people within this alternative way of doing business and for them to being comfortable with this alternative way of doing business. It's partially why my favourite is the ski brand, because actually, it's a new arm of the business. And it was all new. So we could just embed everything that we wanted to do at the very outset. So there's degrees of success that are achieved. But that's not to say that big businesses can't do it, they just have to have the right mindset or be willing to have that creative thinking or that innovative thinking, to help drive change.

Gerrard Fisher  12:21

And I think company culture plays a big part there as well. So certain brands, or even because of their background, if you work, for example, with South Korean companies. In South Korea, there's a much stronger customer service, Ethos, and much more focus on repair and repair service. And so you know, when we work with brands like Samsung, they were far quicker to get the benefits of doing it here in the UK, because it's sort of hardwired into their thinking already. Whereas if you start with some European brands, we take customer service a bit differently. And so there's a bit more reticence to engage with them.

Barry O'Kane  12:56

Yeah, that's really interesting. And it reminds me of  some of the conversations we had in our last season when we talked to a lot of folks across the continent of Africa who are working in circularity, and we talked a lot about the importance of understanding context. And cultural context is what you're talking about there. And also, infrastructure and everything, context- so important to these conversations as well.

Gerrard Fisher  13:18

Yeah, and there's there's context as well in terms of your end market. And we've talked with you before about this idea of, you know, as we have sort of digital natives and digital migrants so to speak, we now perceive that we're seeing circular natives and circular migrants, arguably linear natives, people who are just more inclined to do circular activity than we've ever seen in the past. So we know for a fact younger generations are much more willing to rent clothing, they're much more willing to buy secondhand clothing and wear it whereas 10, 15 years ago, there was this real sort of yuck factor about wearing someone else's clothing. And then much happier sharing and even, you know that using brands like The Clothing Library, they're buying products, using them and sending them back for a full refund, because they want that temporary access, but they don't actually want to own the garment.

Barry O'Kane  14:07

Let's work through that terminology introduced there, because I think it's a really interesting concept. So taking from the idea of a digital native, as in somebody, I mean, the simplest way, I guess, to imagine that as somebody who's grown up with the internet, as opposed to people like me, who were introduced to it at a young age, and so they have a different like, it's embedded, like their whole like their life as you know, as from very, very young. The whole life as if like touchscreen is and everything that comes with that. And then social media is native, they're natives to that. Whereas an older generation, no, we're still a young generation are not native to it, no matter how natural or how much, you know, it's part of our lives now. So you're sort of taking that concept and looking at circularity. So talk a little bit more about that.

Gerrard Fisher  14:52

Yeah, I think it's, it's partly linked to the digital lifestyle as well. I think certain people that they're more used to  ecommerce and the service provision around that, and in some respects, has brought with it some negative things like lots of product returns that then brands and retailers have to deal with them. But then that also, I think, has changed people's perception. And they've grown up with this culture of being able to transact and swap and move things around much more easily. Whether that's through eBay or, you know, as I say, product returns direct to brands, and so inherently become more transactional. with third parties, they don't really know in the same way, they know that through a digital connection, rather than being a local person. And so they're more inclined to to share and transact with people a long way away from them, and share clothing and sell items to them. And so I think they're just more naturally embedded in that kind of behaviour, we see it a lot more in America, people are sort of, I guess, more entrepreneurial, generally about how they use their assets they've already invested in, but we're certainly seeing it growing in Europe and in the UK, in here as well now.

Kristina Bull  15:57

And those digital natives are now of an age where they are setting up businesses, owning businesses, running businesses. So that's why we're seeing this dramatic, more of a shift. They might be owning small businesses at the moment, but there's definitely a shift. So you know, you're applying these digital natives behaviour within your personal life. And then when you're going into the workplace, or you're becoming, you're working, you then are applying them within your business as well.

Gerrard Fisher  16:24

And we know through surveys as well, if you look at the more intensive shoppers for fashion, certainly those that buy more than the average amount of clothing, certain subgroups of that are twice as likely to buy resold goods as a national average.

Barry O'Kane  16:38

What you just said there, Kristina, about that flowing into the business world is really interesting, too. So having grown up with this changing mindset towards ownership is that fair sort of, in a way that technology enables a more fluid, or can possibly enable a more fluid relationship to that then allows the means that they're naturally going to businesses because then I started thinking, well, that means you've got businesses who are circular natives. And that gives us another framework for looking at some of these bigger, older, like the corporates and multinationals and that in the same way, as they have to learn a whole new world in the same way as some of us as individuals how to learn a whole new digital world.

Kristina Bull  17:19

Yes, digital ownership is equally important to younger people as actual physical ownership. So that's why you know, there's avatars and, you know, my daughter's-doesn't run a business but she has an avatar, and she is just as important to own something on her clothing online than it is in physical life. And I think that's, that, for me is an absolutely alien concept. But for them, and they are going to continue to grow and evolve in this way. And that's why brands, you'll see, you know, there's more and more brands becoming, having presence online in that kind of avatars and shops and that kind of thing. In terms of older, bigger businesses, or more established businesses, historically, they've always taken the view of looking on what smaller businesses or more nimble businesses have done and buying them or kind of taking on a kind of incorporating that into their business. I don't know if that's going to be the case with this. Because the mindset of people that are much more digital native, I'm not sure that they want to be within that bigger corporate structure, I think they prefer the Nimble activity, and the activist way in which they behave. And I don't know that older businesses are going to be able to deal with that. So whether they just chug along and slowly die, I don't know. It's gonna be really interesting. Part of me hopes that that might be the end- all they have to make this fundamental change, but it's going to be a really painful change, if they don't have that mindset to shift or that kind of -that openness.

Emily Swaddle  18:49

So cool to think that at some point, there'll be a generation that just cannot fathom, purchasing an item, using it a handful of times and then having to dispose of it that either themselves or like through another, you know, third party, that the idea will become so foreign. I think what's interesting, like the comparison between this circular native and the digital native with the digital growth, well explosion, and it's happened so quickly, that there are people who remember a time - we live in a world where we sort of have the whole spectrum of knowledge of that, that there's a couple of generations before people were just born into this world where they, everyone lives online. With the circular native stuff- do you foresee that sort of happening at the same speed? Do you think it might take a few more generations? What are your hopes and dreams about it? And right, maybe because I know you can't predict the future, but what are you hoping could be the case?

Gerrard Fisher  19:51

I'm hoping that it will be a quick transition. I mean, it needs to be if you look at the fashion sector to keep in line with ScienceBase climate targets it needs to have its Carbon impacts by about 2030. So yes, some of that can be done through better garment design and all that kind of thing. But a lot of its going to have to come from reducing the number of new garments we need to make to serve the market. So that transition needs to happen very quickly. And I think younger generations, as they become more aware of that are absolutely up for it. I think there's equally the interesting thing, you just sort of sparked a thought there with your question about those digital migrants, you know, if we look at people in society now who aren't engaging with digital content, maybe they're frightened of the technology, or they're frightened, they can't find it accessible. We risk having a generation of people, or a segment of society who can't access the circular space. And we're going to have these two sort of systems running in parallel, these two different markets for a long time. From a consumption point of view, it's important that we do get everybody over into a circular model as soon as we can.

Emily Swaddle  21:00

Yeah. And that's interesting as well to sort of, maybe learn from that- the fast growth of like the digital world, and you know, the pitfalls that have been there along the way. And can we continue to face when we're trying to make this transition into the circular world? Will we may be face some of the same pitfalls? Is there ways to avoid them now that we, if we can consider the digital transition, sort of model, but it's definitely a use case?

Gerrard Fisher  21:27

It is. And I think that one of the risks is, you know, when people talk about Circular Economy, it's a very broad church. And a lot of people leap straight to recycling as the solution, which isn't really- it's part of the picture but it is the very last thing you do when you're finished with something. But then there's the other element of it as well about everything being powered by renewable energy. And there's, you know, if you look at the climate impacts globally, 50% of greenhouse gases are caused the emissions, those emissions are caused by making products, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. So if we can reduce consumption, reduce the amount of energy needed, and that, therefore, the renewable energy we are generating goes further. The flip side is if this all moves to sort of digitally enabled content, what's the energy and carbon impact of running all of those systems as well, and critical raw material? So you know, it is a complex picture.

Barry O'Kane  22:19

Yeah, there's always the unintended consequences conversation. So like the scale of digital and before exploring that site, I want to just hop back a little bit to something else that you talked about, and how when we were talking about how when a business needs to kind of change direction. So assuming that there is motivation, and they see the benefits of both business and sustainability and circular benefits of moving direction, but then they have this kind of, like they have everything's- this break on that they have these systems built in both literal systems and people and processes, which is all optimised about move, moving physical things as fast as possible, and getting them out the door to get the money back. So I want to tie that back to the technology conversation a little bit. Because we were talking there about digital natives, and circular natives and how technology has sort of enabled that an opportunity for a different mindset. Are you seeing the same sort of thing as you're describing there, but within businesses, so the systems that my company operates on, I can't make it circular, you know, you describe how it's difficult for a brand sometimes to deal with the returns, because that's not built into they're literally built into their stock control. Never mind anything else. So what I guess what I'm saying is I have I always have a theory or hypothesis that our existing operating systems, which includes the technology are part of the problem when we're trying to change businesses.

Kristina Bull  23:42

Aside business, I think we should have therapy. Some of the brands we work with, it becomes very much about - we can design the most beautiful circular business model, and it can be right for the right customer segments, we can have the right kind of product portfolio, all of those things. But then it becomes the tail wagging the dog because you have these systems that are ingrained, like Legal,  like IT that cannot-they are so ingrained in the way in which they do things. Like you say, Barry, they can't return, they can't receive back a garment because it's on the same SKU code. You know, there's no way, no simple, easy way of changing that or adding in another SKU, but I'm sure there'll be people that are like- So of course, not because of x, y and z. But it's that it comes back to a mindset that we have these systems that only allow processes to flow in one direction and we don't have those processes that can bring it back. So we always try and trial it to test it, see how it goes. And then we can integrate system so see how much you can do that works next to your systems. If we were going to try this and then understand how you can integrate it .Obviously, the best way is to integrate it straightaway. But we're acutely aware that for those bigger juggernauts, that's just not doable in a short-ish timeframe. So work alongside them, and then understand how you can work- integrate within them. Because changing your whole IT system, if you are a global brand is quite a fundamental undertaking.

Gerrard Fisher  25:22

And the tragedy of that is that it's a very myopic situation, because there's companies, you know- Avis, Hertz, loads of people that are running rental business models on well established ERP systems. And it's just that the brands are using linear ERP systems, whereas there's off the shelf rental options available right now.

Kristina Bull  25:42

And actually, those brands, they teach on the edge, and those circular models often fall over- not because it wasn't right for the right customer, or you know, everything else wasn't going to work. It's because those internal systems fall over and can't adopt other systems that are in market.

Barry O'Kane  26:03

What you just described is what this one of the things that's most fundamental this season of the podcast, trying to talk about the role of the people who are doing those things, right. So we write software, I write software, lawyers, and people in the legal department world. Like, there's an opportunity to take those professional skills and the businesses and the suppliers to the juggernauts you just describe and say, Well, if it feels like there's a huge opportunity, they say, well, we can solve this problem. You know, if there's, as you say, ERP systems exist. So let's look at the how, and getting the skill sets and the understanding, not just within the people who are actually dealing with moving products, but all the supporting systems around that. I really like what you said, Kristina, when you said do as early as possible, you tried to speak to IT and Legal and whoever, not just the core people that you're speaking to. The opportunity there for us as a sector to say, well, we don't need to go and work on circularity, we can support circularity by looking at the way the products are made, the software and tools that we make that actually enable those models to happen.

Kristina Bull  27:11

Part of models that we really liked, one was a fashion brand and one was a tire company. We can take experience from other sectors like Gerrard has said about car rental. A fashion brand doesn't see itself in the same market as a car rental. But actually the service in which they need to deliver their circular business model absolutely is. So part of our role is always taking experience and knowledge from other systems and other sectors and saying actually, this can work within you. Yes, you are a luxury retail brand, that's great. But actually you can utilise all of this stuff from other sectors.

Emily Swaddle  27:46

Do you think there are any industries that maybe just can't change their business model in this way? Like, because I imagine there will be some people listening to this been like, yeah, I just don't think that applies to me. Do you think that's true? Or do you think that there is some way to do it for every kind of industry?

Gerrard Fisher  28:02

Yeah, the recovery of nutrients from human waste is financially more viable than just throwing it away. In fact, if you were to look at the UK's human waste treatment system right now, if you could start from scratch, you would do it very, very differently. Because we're throwing away a lot of nutrients. And it's about this bigger value picture and how you get the most value out of what it is you've gotten for the service you're providing. So you think back to COVID, you know, and studies of human waste and the diagnosis and measurement of medical conditions through society. There's so much more you could do if you didn't just flush it down the loo. So I think we would argue there's almost no industry where circularity can't play a role. I guess the limit of that might be the fossil fuel sector. And okay, you might be saying, well, there's some  useful chemicals and plastics and things like that we can make from those resources, which may be but we definitely shouldn't be burning it right now. So yeah, pretty much any other industry can probably adopt some circular practice.

Emily Swaddle  29:05

Nice, thank you.

Barry O'Kane  29:07

So what's interesting about that, is that and you said this earlier, so there's circularity and Circular Economy is a very broad church under which there's multiple different things. And when you talked about business models, we touched on many different things. But the consistent theme through all of that is obviously reducing the consumption, reducing the virgin materials and the literal waste out. So I guess my question is, and you also talked about how you do that. So let's do pilots, or like maybe there's the hook of a buyback scheme or whatever. How does that kind of hook or first step which isn't circularity in itself? How can we make that flow and the evidence that that does work, actually make larger systemic changes either within a business or more broadly?

Gerrard Fisher  29:54

That's part of the journey really. We recognise when we go into companies, that sometimes switching, you know, like the tire company going in to stop selling tires has been facetious, but you know, they switch completely to service. And that jump is huge for many businesses. And so, you know, the question is, what are the steps on the way to that service that you can take right now? And perhaps resale is the only legitimate step you can really cope with at the moment? Because you're into sort of transactional business? So it's then understanding, is that retail activity beneficial? And if it is, then how do we step on from there? So we worked with Depop, to help them understand that secondhand trading on their platform, how much of that is actually preventing the purchase of a new product, turns out nine garments are ten actually do. So you know, a lot of the sales that they're doing are preventing people from buying new stuff, which is great. But then, if you're into resell, the next question is, well, if I'm selling a garment for a price, and I'm buying it back in six months time for another price, really what I'm doing is there's a cost to that six months of ownership. So I might then be able to step into, why don't you pay me that and just have it for six months and send it back, rather than giving it away, selling it, and then having to try and get it back? When that's another sort of difficult transactional thing. So you can step from resale into temporary ownership and rental and hire. And then you can work from there into a full service business model. But it's understanding about that whole journey that you've got to map out and, and how you make those transitions.

Barry O'Kane  31:29

I want to ask the same question that Emily asked earlier in other ways, like, you're both very positive people, you come across as very positive, and you're working on these things. And yet, there's all the bad news out there as well. Right? There's the are we with circularity, are we pushing a mountain up a hill? Can we get that sort of step during enough people, enough businesses, enough people to make that step journey? Is the momentum really there? Do you think of what keeps you going, even when the bad news comes in?

Kristina Bull  31:59

I think the momentum is there. So from a consumer point of view, even this morning, somebody said to it was on the school gate. And so that's a lovely coat. I said, Yeah, I got it on Vinted. Now, this is somebody that you wouldn't ordinarily, she wouldn't have done that. But there was pride in saying yes, it's on Vinted and I got a bargain. Those alternative ways of consuming or getting clothing is going through far wider reaching parts of society, you know, it's broadening and it's generating and it's getting momentum. Vinted doesn't have any, there's no set a listing costing. So that's why it's blown up. And then from the other side, the work that we're doing- we work with some big brands and big organisations, big global ones. But actually, there's a really positive activity that's happening in these smaller brands that want to integrate circular business models as part of what they do. And it's not a bolt on it is part it is who they are. So for me, it's kind of this consumer groundswell. And then we've got this really exciting swathe of smaller brands, not small SME micros, but you know, smaller brands that want to do the right thing and are doing the right thing from the outset as well. And I think if we can, those two can make that are marrying up, then I you know, the tide will continue, and I think it will grow. So I do continue to be positive about, I do hope that the juggernauts just go away.

Gerrard Fisher  33:24

What keeps us motivated is sitting in the room with a big brand like that, and you see the light bulb go on, when people suddenly get it and realise what it can do for them. And that I mean, back to the ski brand example, that the savings, they're making one or two returns are absolutely huge. And when the finance people get wind of that, suddenly you've got a whole lot of support. And that's when you really get the change in place.

Kristina Bull  33:47

The finance people you have, you know, as one of the things that we've definitely learned over the years is the language in which we use communicating with different people within the business changes according to who you talk to. So yeah, when you're talking to the finance team, it's very much about the warranty return rates, and you know, the financial aspects and those commercial opportunities with the marketing team. It's about customer love. And you know that love going both ways that it is not just about the transactions and how many more transactions you can make, but it's about the depth, how much that customer really enjoys your brand. And then with the sustainability people it's about kind of reducing consumption. And actually, you can still have a sustainable business and sustainable within the commercial sense. And make an environment a positive environmental impact because that person is not purchasing a brand new product but is purchasing a preloved,  is renting, whatever.

Barry O'Kane  34:40

Yeah, amazing. Thank you so much. So as we're starting to run out of time, unfortunately, although it's really fun, I'd love to come back and explore the digital, native circular native thing even further. But for today's conversation just to finish us off two final questions. One is, what's next for you and QSA, what's the next big things that you're excited about and looking forward to it? 

Gerrard Fisher  35:00

I think for us, certainly focusing on the fashion sector, because there's a lot of interest going off right now. And we see that sort of one of the major trailblazers for a lot of other industries to follow. So think working more in that sector. And we've got a few different projects that we're looking at there to do with, you know, market incentives and market information and getting more people to change quicker. So sort of accelerating that change.

Barry O'Kane  35:25

Wonderful, awesome. And just finally, for those listening, who want to find out more about the work you do, or get in touch, where do they go?

Kristina Bull  35:32

You can go to QSA partners, which is q s a, and then

Barry O'Kane  35:38

Awesome. Thanks so much. And as usual, all the links we mentioned will be in the show notes on Thank you so much for joining us today.

Emily Swaddle  35:44

Thank you.

Kristina Bull  35:46

Thank you for having us. 

Gerrard Fisher  35:47

Great. Thanks for having us on.

Emily Swaddle  35:50

Thank you for listening to this episode of HappyPorch Radio. You can find past episodes, transcripts and show notes at You can also get in touch with us there and let us know what you think. Or if you have any ideas or comments, please rate the podcast, share and subscribe so that more people can find the show.

Barry O'Kane  36:05

Thanks for listening. My name is Barry O'Kane. I founded HappyPorch who fund and support this podcast.At HappyPorch we do technology and software development for purpose led businesses and we're particularly excited about the role of digital as an enabler for the Circular Economy. If you're working on solutions to the big problems we face today problems like climate change, biodiversity loss and global inequality then let's connect,visit and get in touch.

Emily Swaddle  36:28

And I'm Emily Swaddle, podcaster coach, facilitator and storyteller. You can find me on my other podcast, the Carbon Removal Show, and you can find out more about that project and everything else I do at where you can also subscribe to my newsletter All about Rest. If you're interested in anything I do, feel free to connect. You can email me on [email protected]