iko app

a new app for donating, selling & shopping
for used clothing eco-responsibly.
the iko app helps you sell & donate clothing in one easy step.
you can also find people in the iko community in need of used clothing
to gift your clothing to that you no longer use.
Project Overview
This story began on a walk..

I live in the North Oakland/Berkeley area.. For lunch, I take walks every day to get out in the fresh air and amazing California weather. On these walks, I would see mounds of clothing on the sidewalks- people's attempts at recycling clothing. This left me feeling unsettled and uneasy. Surely some of this clothing finds a new home..but does it always work?

This got me thinking about people's pain points with regards to recycling clothing, whether selling or donating. People are essentially hacking a solution when leaving clothing on the streets and sidewalks.

How is all this clothing left out on streets and sidewalks impacting our environment?
As it turns out, America exports 700,000 tons of used clothing overseas and 2.5 million tons of clothing are recycled. However unfortunately, over three million tons are incinerated, and an astronomical 10 million tons get sent to landfills.
Product Design
UX/UI Design
16-Week Project
Jan – May 2021
It costs $45 per ton to trash textiles, equaling hundreds of millions of dollars per year, showing a clear economic case to reduce waste.

But, more importantly this is not good for our planet. So i started thinking about how we could help turn this around and get this clothing to be used more often, and by more people.

I decided i wanted to do something about it.
This was my process in approaching the problem. Timeline length was roughly 16 weeks.

It cycled through research, ideation, prototyping, iterating and then repeating ad infinitum after 3 rounds of user testing. Of course, as with any product design project, this has been an ongoing project and will never be quite finished as there are always new insights from user testing that require edits, iterations and new feature build outs.
Following my initial desk research i delved into macroforces.


The official poverty rate in 2020 was 11.4%. In 2020, there were 37.2 million people in poverty, approximately 3.3 million more than in 2019. COVID has only increased these rates.
Economically disadvantaged communities often struggle to find their footing when re-entering the workforce. Business attire and clean presentable clothing is often a barrier. And, this would be just a tip of the iceberg.
What about college students from disadvantaged communities? How could we help them and offer them fashionable, quality clothing as well?
Next i took a look at macroforces at play currently in the fashion retail sector. As it turns out buying trends show a clear market for recycled clothing, especially among younger millennials and gen z. Increasingly this demographic is aggressively looking for holistic brands and companies and platforms who have a proven social responsibility track record. This was also a major opportunity to capitalize on.

From here, i was able to craft my problem statement.
Problem Statement
How might we help people donate & resell clothing more easily and responsibly and to connect them with both eager buyers of recycled clothing AND with disadvantaged communities in need of quality used clothing?
Customer Mindsets
My two main customer mindsets helped guide me as i created a metrics for success plan and risk mitigation plan. They also proved crucial when i started ideating via sketches and initial lo-fi prototypes.

Customer Discovery
It was clear to me from the initial desk research that there was a need to improve the clothing recycle process. I wanted to use the user survey and user interviews to find out from the onset, what was working for the user and what wasn't. Also, it was important to find out how they felt about corporate social responsibility- as this was a key way i hoped to get users excited about the platform i was developing.

I kicked into the customer discovery phase which included mindmapping in mindmeister, a user survey, 7 user interviews, affinity mapping in miro and quite a few brainstorming sessions with lots of stickies. ;p
Assumptions & Themes
Some of my early assumptions were in fact validated in initial user interviews and to some extent the survey. Some pertinent and interesting themes emerged which were opportunities for me to make the platform i was developing attractive to prospective users.
Assumption Invalidated
My main assumption to be invalidated was that users would be willing to pay to donate if it meant they would be guaranteed near zero waste when recycling clothing with the platform. Though they liked the goal of sustainability a majority of users were not sure if they were willing to pay for it.

I realized i would have to re-think this as the platform evolved. I touched upon this again when i started ideating via sacrificial concepts.

A competitive analysis which i had been doing concurrently helped.
Competitive Analysis
I took a survey of the competitive landscape with platforms or organizations already helping people donate clothing. One of the main competitors that stood out was FOR DAYS. They had a really interesting value prop which i used as a jumping off point and inspiration.
Features Roadmap
After research synthesis, the goal was to design and develop a delightful and easy to use platform for donating and selling clothes with the purpose of making quality fashionable used clothing accessible to all and a focus on reducing clothing waste by 90% from current levels. Continued user research and testing would guide me through just how i would be able to accomplish this.

However some key features came to the fore that would help differentiate this platform and make it truly beneficial to the targeted user groups and perhaps help scale it to a global level down the road.

Rough Sketches

sacrificial concepts

Right off the bat, the payed model for recycling that i was initially considering was getting invalidated in user interviews. Sacrificial concepts were very helpful in getting me to see this and be able to pivot and finesse the model i would move forward with.

In the new model i would move forward with donees of clothing would pay a $15 eco-responsible donation fee but they would immediately get credits to use on the platform to purchase other used clothing. OR, user could opt to have a portion of the fee go to a charitable donation.

crazy 8s

Crazy 8s were a great way to start thinking about how the main interface could be organized and to try out ideas without investing too much time.

flow sketches
The flow of the donation process, as complex as it was, was something I was able to explore via sketches. I was the able to do informal tests on people before getting into the digital phase.

But now a little about the name..So why iko? First of all, phonetically it sounds like “eco”. And, eco-consciousness is THE main goal of this new platform. So i thought that was fitting. :)

Second, iko’s goal of (near) 0% clothing waste is global, universal..

Iko can mean “love” in the Umuahian dialect of Nigeria, “cool” or “great” in informal Spanish and “purpose” in Japanese.
And so, besides being uber fun to say- the name iko crosses borders linguistically. I thought this was very appropriate so the name stayed.
Prototypes & Usability Testing
Over the process of a little bit over a week I conducted three rounds of user tests in low, mid & hi fidelity respectively
as the prototype evolved.

USERS: Will • Lexi • Daniel • Sonia • Brynne • Schawnery • Sawyer
DATES: April 8-16 2022
Prototype Flow
After 3 rounds of user testing, i'm feeling quite good about the onboarding & donation process flows. User testing has been instrumental in getting the prototype to easily guide the user thought those initial steps.

As i tested the higher fidelity prototype more it also became clear to me that the selling side of the platform was also quite popular with the users i tested. Free items highlighted in the stories section were a great hit. As was the payed donation model of getting iko coins (credits) every time you donated clothing for future use on the iko app.

The video below shows the prototype flow as it currently stands.
As i started testing the hi-fi prototype further, I was struck by how passionate and opinionated people were with regards to how I was breaking out the gender categories in the shopping portion of the app. Genders and gender fluidity will be a main focus moving forward in building the IKO app. We want all people recycling and shopping for used clothing to feel welcome & understood..

We are in this together. :)

Next Steps
Continued testing/
building to refine the product and finesse up until launch
Increased focus on building out the selling side of the platform with a focus on inclusivity
And of course, obtaining funding to get this platform with a beautiful goal into the stratosphere
Thank you for visiting!