Success means… contentment with the life you’re leading.
Three adjectives that deserve me are... thoughtful, resourceful, and inspired.
You can’t run a business without… a good night’s sleep.
In the next 10 years I will be… proving it’s possible to make a meaningful difference in the lives of 12+ million garment workers while also building a profitable business.
wearwell is revolutionizing the fashion industry to work more for workers’ rights and sustainability by making it effortless for women to find clothes that fit their style + their values. We do this through a personalized shopping experience that connects women to clothes and brands they look fantastic in and can feel great about buying. At a bigger picture level, we’re working on large scale industry change by harnessing the power of behavioral data on conscious consumers - the fastest growing market segment in retail - and supporting the growth of emerging conscious fashion brands.
My co-founder Emily and I, were both working in international development when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh, killing over 1,134 garment workers and injuring over 2,000 more. From the unique perspectives we had - me leading the corporate partnerships division of a media company that covered international development activities and Emily working in the field - we noticed that there was a need to motivate the fashion industry to change. We had also identified a personal frustration that we as conscious consumers couldn’t easily align our purchasing power with our values when it came to clothing. The confluence of these two realizations inspired us to search for solutions that would align consumers, makers, and the industry in cooperation with one another to bring about lasting social and environmental change.
How do you generate new ideas to stay relevant on the market? Is it important to innovate in your space?
We are constantly iterating. 3 months into our Private Beta, we identified ways we can overhaul the customer experience to be more profitable and sustainable and now we’re running toward our full launch with those changes. You have to be willing to fully dive into new ideas. If you don’t innovate, someone else will. And what good has ever come from being stagnant? It helps that we used design thinking and rapid prototyping from day one to come up with our business model. Iterating and innovating is part of our DNA!
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
I’ve had to say goodbye to any semblance of a ‘normal’ life. There’s the logistics, such as sacrificing a salary and depleting your life savings until you can pay yourself, choosing between work and a social life, and putting dating on hold in your 20s because you just felt so compelled to run at the idea that you had different priorities. But the one that snuck up on me: My brain no longer turns off. As someone who will always try to carve out balance in her life, there’s no more “turning work off.” It’s my baby, so even when I’m in that yoga class or on vacation, new ideas and thoughts related to work pop into my head. But, when that’s your sacrifice, you gain the satisfaction of being so passionate about what you do each and every day that it becomes energizing rather than draining.
Was it difficult get capital/investors? Has anyone underestimated you as a female entrepreneur? If yes, how did you handle it?
Prepare yourself to be underestimated. Especially if you offer a product or service for women. It’ll be difficult for investors - most of whom are men - to relate or see value. Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx and one of my personal idols, speaks often about how being underestimated was actually one of her greatest assets in business.
It took some time for me to learn, but I eventually realized that potential investors who don’t passionately believe in the business or don’t fully believe in my ability to build and lead a company aren’t investors who you want to be working with anyway. Find your champions who lift you up and help you grow. Be wary of money tied to those who do the opposite. And most of all, know what it is you stand for and have faith in your own vision. If you can do that, you’ll build more resilience and end up making it through the challenging times that come with entrepreneurship.