Typically, when useable products go to landfill, the people power, energy, and financial resources used to create them is also lost. Enter The Renewal Workshop, a Cascade Locks, Oregon-based renewal company. The Renewal System takes discarded apparel and textiles and turns them into Renewed Apparel, upcycled materials, or recycling feedstock. With apparel coming from myriad sources, the workshop needed a more robust system for establishing prices for the “renewed” goods.
The zero waste system that “recovers the full value out of what has already been created as a way of serving customers, partners and planet,” according to its founders, was an ideal match for the minds that make up the Oregon Consulting Group, a professionally managed, student-run consulting organization housed in the Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon.
Students Emily Huang, Emily Herrin, Tucker Leneve, Linnet Sim, Colt Sauers, and Clarissa Tolan took on the mission of verifying and offering improvements to the client’s methodology for the pricing of Renewed Apparel for sales to consumers on renewalworkshop.com.
Led by Huang, the team used data-backed research combined with scalability, automation, consistency, and transparency to provide a 10-point rating system and pricing strategy that allows for profit.
“Our business model is reliant on a lot of products we don’t simply have info on—products that were never designed to have a next life,” The Renewal Workshop cofounder Nicole Bassett explained. “What we learned from the Oregon Ducks was that the way we were doing our pricing was pretty limiting. We asked, ‘What might be a different methodology for pricing?’ and they took it from there.”
After extensive research exploring the nuances of pricing for industries including cars, furniture, and antiques, as well as clothing, the student team used the data to make their recommendations to The Renewal Workshop.
The pricing model the students recommended includes factoring the age, material quality, and brand of the item, then finding the median associated prices on the brand partner’s website. Next a rating that heavily weights quality is applied. Finally, a specific percentage discount is applied to the estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price to arrive at The Renewal Workshop’s selling price.
“It’s a living, customizable, Excel methodology,” explained project manager Emily Huang ’18. “Long term, as The Renewal Workshop scales up, it can be adjusted and built upon.”
Huang said approximately 600 total student team hours were dedicated to the project.
“Being a part of Oregon Consulting Group is definitely a commitment, but it’s been one of my greatest college decisions,” Huang said. “The agency model allowed me to really dig in and deliver on the scope of the project, and I really valued working directly with the client. These are skills I’ve carried directly over to my work at Deloitte Consulting.”
Jordan Hamada, then president of Oregon Consulting Group, now an M&A consultant at PwC in New York City, added, “We delivered a set of recommendations and tangible product to the client that they could use from day one. Not a lot of students can say that.”
Vanessa Margolis, portfolio director at VertueLab (formerly Oregon BEST) has facilitated collaborations with the Oregon Consulting Group for three different clients. VertueLab, which connects cleantech innovators with funding and investment, was able to support The Renewal Workshop’s efforts through a grant to fund the student consult. Margolis said that based on previous fruitful collaborations with the student consulting teams, she knew The Renewal Workshop was in good hands.
“I have enormous trust in the process,” Margolis said. “It’s gratifying for us to see clients get so much value out of the activity. We are big fans of Oregon Consulting Group.”
Bassett agreed, “They really listened to what we needed, I noticed they didn’t take the approach of telling us what we wanted to hear, but rather brought some really constructive insights.”