Where and how to start?
Journal of a Sustainable Fashion Startup #1
Know why you want to start-up
Are you thinking of setting up your own business?
By definition, a start-up is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under condition of extreme uncertainty.
First, you need to take some time to reflect on your real motivations and why you want to start up.
Clear your schedule, turn your notifications off, grab a piece of paper and think about the below:
Why do you really want to start a business?
What are your guiding values, the stuff that you are not prepared to compromise on?
What does success mean to you?
You are going to be extremely busy and your life is about to change, so being crystal clear on the above will help you focus and choose between conflicting options further down the line.
Now that you know where you stand, you can start thinking about the kind of business you want to create.
Be obsessed with the problem you are trying to solve, not the solution
Start with the problem, not the solution.
- Which problem are you trying to solve that the current market is lacking?
- Which gap are you trying to fill?
If you can’t answer those questions, then you probably need to start again.
To help you with this exercise, watch this TED Talk from Simon Sinek: Start With Why.
Execution is everything
Every creative process is stealing something from somewhere so don’t let it defeat you if other people are already doing what you want to do. You will always have competitions, but make sure your Why (as covered above) is actually needed and relevant.
Execution is everything, not your idea.
Test your assumptions
What are you assuming to be true in order for this idea to be a success?
First, define your target audience. Second, speak to as many of them as possible, either face to face or via an online survey, to test your assumptions. Third, now you’ve got the data that you need, can you respond yes to the questions below?
Do people actually want it?
Can I deliver it?
Is it remarkable?
Lead with a story
What matters the most is what you stand for, not your name or your logo. You need to sell your vision and your story first, not your product or your service.
Nurture your first followers
Don’t keep your idea for yourself. As seen above, execution is everything so no one will copy you until you prove it. Instead, the right people will want to help, and your passion will be infectious.
Start building your community right away as they will become your biggest advocate. Give back to them and make it all about the problem you are solving, not you.
You will soon realise that there is no movement without your first followers, which is why you need to nurture them.
We urge you to watch this 3-minutes video showing the power of the first follower here.
Billi London’s case study
Does the world really need another tights brand?
We are obsessed with the unsustainable tights industry. Every year, two billion pairs of tights are produced, worn once and discarded. To us, this is worth fighting for since tights are fabricated from nylon and elastane, two of the most damaging and long-lasting materials used in clothing, taking hundreds of years to decompose.
Women have accepted that tights are close to being a single-use garment and they robotically dispose of their ripped tights, without understanding the impact that this has on the environment: ‘it is how it has always been, and it is how it will always be’.
Our objective is to change this mindset and women’s rapport with tights from being a disposable afterthought to a sustainable fashion essential.
Testing our assumptions
In the Summer 2019 we’ve launched a survey to try to understand women’s tights shopping habits. The survey results were a starting point of the validation of our project, with over 300 women worldwide taking part, and revealing that 85% have a strong dissatisfaction with their tights.
A mission for a change
Our ambition is to create a movement and a “new norm” for the tights sector going far beyond the recycling approach which we think is only a sticking plaster for social and environmental sustainability.
Building our community started the day we launched our online survey. From there, we collected a handful of email addresses and carried on speaking to them. We’ve even created a private WhatsApp group with 30 of them, gathering their feedback almost daily. Their support has been incredible, and we know they will be our biggest advocates when we finally launch.
You can read more about Billi London and why we started the brand here.
One last thing - don’t forget that you can become capable of anything by beginning.
So, what are you waiting for?