Fashion Startup 101: The Takeaways from Harvard’s Finest Fashion Tech Ladies

Fashion Startup 101: The Takeaways from Harvard’s Finest Fashion Tech Ladies

What do you get when you put fashion, tech, and the well-educated women of Harvard Business School all together in one of New York City’s hottest co-working spaces? You get some memorable and poignant moments in fashion tech.

Julia Kastner, MBA ‘12, founder of the innovative and socially conscious startup, Eva and Paul (currently doing a Kickstarter project), planned the event and moderated the panel. Her company works in conjunction with Arvind Agribusiness to deliver quality, well-fitting denim made from cotton and other organic materials from India to the masses.

The rest of the panel included:

  •  Dana Hork, MBA ’12, of REFINEA lifestyle basics brand selling women’s wardrobe essentials.
  •  Halsey Meyer, MBA ’11, of HalsbrookAn online specialty boutique, curating designs for women with enduring style.
  • Katie Nadler, MBA ’12, of TopShelfAn online platform that aggregates each member’s past online clothing purchases to bring their closet online.
  • Sarah Paiji, MBA ’11, of SnapetteAn app that helps shoppers find fashion products available in nearby stores.
  • Olga Vidisheva, MBA ’11, of ShoptiquesAn online fashion marketplace that aggregates inventory of local offline boutiques.
  • Jie Zheng, MBA ’10, of Material WrldA curated online fashion community for shoppable personal closets.

As the Q&A progressed, each founder talked about the mission behind her startup, where she got her inspiration from, who the people were  that were there to help her bring those dreams into fruition, and what her major struggle was in the first year. But something was different about this panel in particular. Their reverence for fashion tech and respect for all the ways the fashion industry, in general, is changing is what set these women apart. Each woman behind these companies comes from a different background (admittedly some never even worked in fashion) but understood that the business of fashion and fashion tech – especially in New York City – is moving in a direction where women want to be catered to, women want to feel like they were considered during each step of their brand ideation, and women want to know that their fashion comes from a place close to home.

The greatest takeaways of the night were as follows:

  •  Find gaps in your industry (aka identify the problem), and just start building. (REFINE)
  • Your company will not be everything to everyone, and that’s okay. Find what works for your company’s mission, and stick to it – your customers will thank you later. (Halsbrook)
  • Particularly important for someone launching a startup: find someone who will not only be your friend but be your mentor… in a friendly way. (Shoptiques)
  • There are 3 types of currency: money, time and sanity; you have to choose which one you’ll exhaust any given day. (REFINE)

Leticia Domenech is a Third Wave Fashion Contributor. She is a freelance writer, journalist, digital content strategist, and lover of business – big and small, for-profit and not. You can tweet at her here.

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