NICOLE GIORDANO, FOUNDER @ STARTUP FASHION
BASED IN: NEW YORK, NY
I’m the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online community and support system for independent designers around the world as they work to build their businesses.
A deep love for the craft of fashion pared with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led me down this path.
More than anything else, I’m in the business of encouragement. I work every day to remind independent designers that they don’t have to accept the traditional fashion business rules; they can create their own paths and build businesses they truly love.
Is entrepreneurship something that anyone can tackle? What is the most important thing to consider?
I think it’s something anyone can tackle but I don’t think it something that everyone would enjoy.
The thing is, when you’re an entrepreneur, there’s no one telling you what to do. This is both good and bad. It’s good because you get to make the rules, it’s bad when you’re feeling lost or stuck or confused and need guidance and accountability.
The other thing to remember is that you’re often making sacrifices- whether this is in your personal life (like missing events) or in the business (like having to stick to a tight and sometimes very small budget.) So it’s not always glamorous but, in my opinion, it’s always worth it.
What part of your personality helped you the most with your entrepreneurial journey?
My empathy. I built a business that helps others (creative entrepreneurs) to grow businesses doing what they love. I tap into my own experiences and struggles and speak to them from a place of complete and total understanding. Both in the fashion industry and the entrepreneurial journey. What I help them with and through are things that I know all too well; I feel what they’re going through and I do what I can to help.
Because of this, I have been able to truly connect with my community and they have found a place where they feel understood and cared for.
Is it important to dream big? What is the big dream for your business?
Yes. Especially for women. I think often women have guilt about dreaming too big, about what that kind of success would mean for the other areas of our lives. I think dreaming big simply means that you don’t apply limits to your potential and also acknowledging that you are not only capable but deserving of whatever you want in life.
For me, dreaming big means growing our community of fashion entrepreneurs and expanding our reach to even more incredible designers and makers; it means traveling often and having full control over how I spend my time on this earth.
What does success mean to you? What does it mean to “be successful”? Can it ever be fully achieved or is it something that comes and goes?
I think it can be fully achieved. The point is that success is about living the life that we want. That looks different for everyone and can evolve for each of us (what we want today might not be what we want 3 years from now) but success lies in the ability to shift and change to fit our lives.
For me, that’s having a business that is run online so that I can travel often. It means having the freedom to create my workday in any way I choose. And it means positively impacting the lives of people who also want this find of freedom.
Did you look for funding in the past?
No I didn’t. I thought long and hard about this and ultimately decided that I didn’t want to borrow money because more than anything else, I was building a lifestyle business. I want flexibility and freedom. So I built the business very leanly, listened to my customer, improved constantly, and grew from the ground up.
Why do you think that female owned businesses are a VERY small percentage (that has not been growing) of businesses that get funded by venture capital? What can we do to change that?
I think a big part of it is our confidence in ourselves and our belief (or lack of belief) that we deserve it. I don’t know one fellow female entrepreneur who hasn’t admitted to feeling like a fraud. The idea of going after money can be really scary.
Communication will help to change that. The more that we as female entrepreneurs talk about these fears, the more we can help one another to crush them. The more platforms like WE RULE share the stories of women doing great things, the more we can see other women succeed and believe in ourselves even more. And fortunately, finding means of communication is easier than ever these days.