Ever wonder the secret behind a multi-million dollar fashion business?
The fashion industry is cutthroat and online fashion is even more difficult to make your mark. At Poche Posh, we constantly strive to learn from other women who've made it big. We were inspired by these four fashion founders for their amazing accomplishments and drive to success. Young, vivacious and super hard working, these women are definitely people to watch in the coming years. Introducing Jane, Tyler, Castle and Richa.
Jane Lu, Founder of Showpo
Jane Lu Instagram @thelazyceo
As a fierce founder of a massive fashion empire, Jane Lu started where we all did - in a career she didn't like. As an accountant she had no inspiration to achieve her dreams and decided to quit. Five years later, her online fashion store "Showpo", has churned millions of dollars in revenue and awarding her a Forbes 30 under 30 award. The top three things to learn from Jane are:
1. Just do it!
Jane started from scratch, with two shelves of inventory and an online store she made herself. We learned from her, that you need to start somewhere and launch. No matter what industry you want to be in, you will constantly change your website look so you might as well launch before you are 100% ready. Being a founder is an attitude and starting from what you have is okay!
2. Live life to the fullest.
Here is Jane at Burning Man 2017 with her models. Work hard. Play hard. Showpo went on tour to showcase their new collection. You don't have to sacrifice having fun to start a business, make your fun part of the business. This is also made easier if you are your target demographic.
3. Make time for fitness.
In the fashion industry, eyes are on you all the time and it is even more pressure to be a founder. Your employees, models and clients look to you as the image of your brand. Make time for self care and look your best always, you never know who you will meet that day.
Tyler Haney, Founder of Outdoor Voices
Tyler Haney Instragram @ty_haney
Tyler graduated from Parsons School of Design and started Outdoor Voices in 2012. What started as an idea is now a venture backed company with more than $9 million dollars in funding. Tyler had one goal in mind - bring a stress free approach to fitness. All of her designs are effortless and wearable, even as athleisure. She went to university to run hurdles in track and came out with a fantastic athletic brand. Let's see what we can take away from her approach to being a successful founder.
1. Create a cult following.
Use social media to garner a loyal customer base. To make your own mark, you have to appeal to the masses in a way that all women can see themselves in your brand. Tyler is famous for the hashtag #DoingThings and getting big names like Michelle Obama, Lena Dunham and Sophia Amoruso to participate.
2. Be your brand.
Tyler began a dog walking pack. They meet at the Outdoor Voices store and go for walks together. What a great way to combine the brand's vision and involving the community.
3. Build a kickass support network.
The startup journey is hard. Surround yourself with friends who can listen to the anxiety, heartbreak and moody days. Tyler's "Austin Honies" are her support at her store in Austin, Texas. She also relies a lot on family and friends for guiding her through this journey.
Castle Ho, Founder of Boutique 1861
If you live in Canada and shop online, you've heard of Boutique 1861. A Montreal based, Victorian themed boutique, started by Castle Ho. A visionary of intricate aesthetic and subtle fabrics, Castle has created a fashion statement with these vintage pieces. She started her boutiques with the help of family and friends and has become a successful online store generating millions in revenue and shipping all over the world. She has opened three boutiques in Montreal, on popular tourist destinations like St-Laurent and Ste-Catherine. Castle has made social media a huge part of her business and there are so many things to learn from her. Here are three:
1. Launch Big!
The best thing you can do to generate buzz for your fashion brand, is to launch big! To market the opening of Boutique 1861, in 2009, Castle hired Rev Communications. They made sure the PR was on point. As a result, you can find 1861 talked about in all the major news outlets. Their Facebook following grew also and has consistently driven traffic to their store. And don't forget those valuable emails! Sending emails to all interested parties is free money for your brand. Driving word-of-mouth traffic is hard if you don't get the hype train started.
2. Keep your friends.
The startup grind never ends. It is really hard to make time to hangout with friends and family when you work all day every day. We get it, you are the founder and if you don't work who will? But once you ARE a huge success you can't celebrate by yourself! So make sure to make time for your friends, especially furry ones.
3. Wear your brand. Damn it.
We're all guilty of this and we don't realize what a big opportunity we're missing. If you look at Castle's Instagram account @puppyncas, you can see that every outfit she wears, is a Boutique 1861 outfit. As a founder, the best way to start organic conversations is to have people ask you - "Where did you get that from?" and you can answer right back "Oh this? This is my brand!" Every person you meet is a potential customer, market yourself with this free solution, just wear your own brand when you go out! If you don't want to wear your brand - ask yourself - why would anyone else?
Richa Kar, Founder of Zivame
Lingerie is a touchy subject in many countries. Especially when women wear modest apparel. Richa didn't let that stop her from creating a multi-million dollar lingerie apparel brand online, called Zivame. After graduating from an engineering undergrad, a management masters and working corporate, she decided to start her own venture. Now Zivame caters to millions of Indian women, providing quality innerwear and creating a platform where they feel comfortable to shop.
Richa had insider knowledge from her time working at the parent company for Victoria Secret, The Limited. She realized that Indian women were ashamed or embarrassed to shop for lingerie online and an easy solution could be made. Here are the lessons we learned from Richa:
1. Celebrate Women.
Women are different, wonderful and capable. Use your brand to champion that by providing body positive images and using models of all sizes. Zivame encourages body positivity on their Instagram account by having images of women expressing themselves. Make it about more than a woman's shape.
2. Support people who reach out.
A stand up comedian, Sumukhi, reached out to Zivame to help her with her show titled "Disgust Me" and sure enough she got her support! Pun Intended:
By helping local causes and local women, you can shape your brand as more than just apparel. Zivame is known for helping local ladies start their own projects.
3. Appreciate the ups and downs.
Richa makes sure to celebrate with her team when they hit big goals, like the anniversary of their business. On another note, she also recently stepped down as CEO of the business. After making 30 million dollars in series C funding in 2015, Richa has taken a step back from day-to-day operations. She's focused more on the vision of the business. Understanding when to change your position in your company can be difficult. It might be your investors pushing you to move over or your own decisions, but ultimately you are a strong, independent founder and you have it in you to know what's best.
Being a female fashion founder is tough. Learning from the best and seeing how they became successful is a good place to start. We chose these women for their fearless attitude and how fast they managed to scale their businesses from startup to million-dollar funding. All of these women started their fashion brands in their 20s. They all had to lean on friends and family for the initial launch. They all had to build a social media following from scratch. So if they can do it, so can you. And help us too! Just keep on working it!
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