From Chemistry to Clotho – my social action journey so far

Posted on: 15 January 2015

I was on the Worthwhile Grad scheme in 2012-13. I was a slightly unusual case as I hadn’t actually graduated at the time, and took a sabbatical year from my degree to join the scheme instead. I was placed with Student Hubs.

I first learnt about Student Hubs after attending the Oxford Climate Forum in February 2012. I absolutely loved the event, and remember feeling completely inspired after meeting so many other students that cared about climate issues.

After attending the Oxford Climate Forum I decided to run a London Climate Forum, and also helped to establish a Imperial Hub. I was so enthusiastic about the organisation that I decided to take a year out of my degree to spend a year working full time for Student Hubs. I’d never really considered working in the third sector before, so this was quite a radical decision! However, I felt really compelled by the Student Hubs mission and didn’t really think twice about jumping in at the deep end.

This turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have ever made. It was such a fun year filled with exciting projects, rewarding challenges and great people. One of the things I loved most about working for Student Hubs was the freedom to experiment with new ideas. As it is such a young and dynamic place to work if you want to set up a new project or try doing something in a different way you are completely free to do so. I crave this room for creativity in my work and so it was perfect for me. It is a great place for ‘go-getters’ who like going out and making things happen.

After I completed the graduate scheme I returned to University to complete the final year of my Chemistry degree. As graduation neared I became fraught with that panicked feeling about what I was going to do next. I considered all the usual options: consultancy, banking, doing a PhD, teaching, etc… and I very almost accepted a job offer with a consultancy firm. Yet I knew that deep down that I really wanted to start my own business. Fortunately for me, my university lab partner was faced with a similar career dilemma and so we decided to team up and start a business together!

Given my experience in the third sector I was keen to do something with a social or environmental element. We sat down over coffee one afternoon last summer and came up with the idea for Clotho, a clothes exchange service for girls. The idea is very simple: girls can trade in any items of clothing they now longer want and exchange them for new items. We collect items from girls and give them credit to spend in our shop. We sort through the items we receive and list any good quality items online. The girls can then use their credit to select new items. We charge just a small transaction fee for our service, making it a convenient, affordable, fun (and sustainable!) way to shop. (Visit our website www.clotholondon.co.uk to learn more.)

clotho

So far, running my own business is proving to be an extremely fun and rewarding career option. It doesn’t really feel like a real job (which is perhaps why I love it) and I plan to continue riding the wave as long as it lasts. Working for Student Hubs certainly equipped me very well for my start-up journey so far – the skills and networks I gained have both been invaluable and I would thoroughly recommended the scheme to any graduate looking for an interesting first job!

Caroline Wood

Caroline is the co-founder of Clotho, a social enterprise that allows girls to exchange their unworn items of clothing for new outfits. She graduated from Imperial College in June 2014 with a degree in Chemistry and started Clotho with her university lab partner, Vivien. She joined the Worthwhile Graduate Scheme in 2012-13 as part of a sabbatical year from her degree.

Tags: Social Impact Careers, Technology


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