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Fashion Ecommerce Is Hard: 14 Quotes From Founders Who Made It

Fashion Ecommerce is Hard: 14 Quotes from Founders Who Made It

Previously, we wrote a post featuring the insights of 10 successful ecommerce founders, from brands like Bonobos, Amazon, etc.

We decided to build upon that list to bring you more quotes about the challenges faced by successful fashion ecommerce founders:

1. Joseph Robins, founder of Mostyn Clothing

Photo: Mostyn Clothing
Photo: Mostyn Clothing

“I have had to take on a second job and cut back on aspects of my lifestyle that I have become accustomed to.”

“Although I would take on as many jobs as necessary to get the venture where I want it to be, it has been a bit of a culture shock and has added a certain level of stress at times.”

“If you take on board everything that everyone says you will have a muddled, confusing business plan and decisions will take weeks rather than hours.”

“Entrepreneurs, especially those fresh out of university, will have so many conflicting “helpful” pointers from friends, family and external stakeholders. These are great because they care about you and how the business is doing, but you have to understand that this is YOUR venture and if you take on board everything that everyone says you will have a muddled, confusing business plan and decisions will take weeks rather than hours.”

“I have built a business from nothing that shares the same morals and business values as myself.”

“If you’re passionate about your venture and you honestly think it can make a difference, do it. The more you can go out of your comfort zone, the more progress you will probably make!”

Source: The Startup Magazine – Interview with Joseph Robins founder of Mostyn Clothing

2. Kara Eschbach, co-founder of Verily magazine

Verily Magazine co-founder Kara Eschbach
Verily Magazine co-founder Kara Eschbach | Photo from Entrepreneur.com

“We did a lot of knocking on doors, asking for advice and trying to figure out what the next move is.”

“We [with co-founder Janet Sahm] started from ground zero. We didn’t have some big blog or a strong social media following, and we didn’t necessarily have a ton connections in the industry.”

“I find attending smaller, more intimate events where you’re having a real conversation with someone is better than going through a large network.”

“Personal introductions are always best, so you should try to figure out how you have a connection with someone. I’ve also found some unexpected mentors come from people thinking I wanted to hire them for something and they’ve said, “I’m not really right for you, but I’d be happy to give you advice.”

Source: Entrepreneur.com – Dressed for Success: How 3 Fashion Startups Are Revamping the Industry

3. Lisa Crosswhite, founder and director of Gnossem.com

Gnossem Founder Lisa Crosswhite | Photo: John Tan john@senatus.net
Gnossem Founder Lisa Crosswhite | Photo: John Tan john@senatus.net

“The greatest struggle for me was actually coming to an equilibrium with what my body could physically handle”

“The biggest challenges I faced in founding a company were more personal than professional. I really welcomed the additional workload and still do. The greatest struggle for me was actually coming to an equilibrium with what my body could physically handle in terms of work hours, how to communicate and manage my team on a frugal budget and keep them motivated, and how to prioritise the essential parts of my personal life.”

“Don’t get bogged down with fear.”

“People often see the upside as more irrational than the downside; while its really about seeing things in balance, and testing your assumptions. Hard work, a well-researched plan, and the humility and self-compassion to keep (quickly) testing to get to that sweet spot, will get you a long way. It’s been proven.”

Source: Forbes – How She Did It: From International Fashion Model To Founder Of A Top Fashion Startup In Asia

4. Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-A-Porter

Net-A-Porter Founder Natalie Massenet
Net-A-Porter Founder Natalie Massenet | Photo: Matt Holyoak www.mattholyoak.co.uk/

“People will always talk you out of things they don’t understand.”

“It was the technology [that scared people], because people were used to technology being a certain way on the web — and the service levels, because we wanted it to be a luxury experience and a visual experience. People would say, ‘No, that can’t be done’ or ‘That shouldn’t be done; you’ll never make money that way.'”

“If I had the choice between getting some sleep or working a bit more I would imagine their faces.”

“It was a challenge, and in the early days what kept me awake was the fact that a group of 30 people had put their money into the business — if I had the choice between getting some sleep or working a bit more I would imagine their faces. There were the brands, as well; I’d made a promise to them… And then there were the people who quit their jobs and came to work with us. I didn’t want to say to them, ‘Goodbye, we’re shutting down this week.’ So, there was a tremendous feeling of responsibility, and that goes all the way down to the customer. I just never ever want to disappoint anybody.”

Source: Oyster – Oyster Interview: Net-A-Porter’s Natalie Massenet

5. Nadine McCarthy, co-founder of Stone & Strand

Stone & Strand co-founders Brooke Magnaghi and Nadine McCarthy
Stone & Strand co-founders Brooke Magnaghi and Nadine McCarthy | Photo from Entrepreneur.com

“Every day we get tons of emails and different opportunities, and we have to decide what’s going to make Stone & Strand successful.”

“You have to prioritize and understand what the core of your business is and who the core customer is.”

“It’s really about finding a business in an industry that you’re really passionate about, because it’s going to be much more difficult and take more time than you anticipate.”

Source: Entrepreneur.com – Dressed for Success: How 3 Fashion Startups Are Revamping the Industry

6. Nathalie Gaveau, founder of PriceMinister & Shopcade

Founder of PriceMinister and Shopcade Nathalie Gaveau
Founder of PriceMinister and Shopcade Nathalie Gaveau | Photo: Nikola Borissov http://www.nikolaborissov.com/

“It was pretty challenging, because, at that time, Amazon was launching Amazon Marketplace and eBay was making aggressive moves. So we focused a lot on customer needs and becoming the number one marketplace in France by understanding the French market.”

“But, for me, the biggest learning was that, at the end of the day, whether they are big or small, successful businesses need to constantly reinvent themselves, they need to innovate — and if you have a good team, you will always find a way.”

“But it was very hard, because we were super young and also the bubble had just burst, so nobody really wanted to hear about e-commerce businesses.”

“We had to be pretty stubborn and quite convincing. But in a way [the climate] helped us, because it prevented us from making the mistakes of Boo.com and all the others. We simply couldn’t have big budgets.”

Source: Business of Fashion – Nathalie Gaveau on PriceMinister, Shopcade and Tapping Social Commerce

7. Kunmi Otitoju, founder of Minku

Founder of Minku Kunmi Otitoju
Founder of Minku Kunmi Otitoju | Photo from Founder’s Grid)

“The main thing for me at the time was going from this bright, shining computer scientist who had Goldman Sachs on her resume, was active in computer science research, and did six years of U.S. university studies on scholarship, to being a bag maker.”

“I needed to convince myself and people around me that I knew what I was doing. My parents and siblings very much believed in me from the start. I wanted to go beyond being an artisan to showing people that bag-making is an art, one that uplifts one’s culture (and the bag-wearers’ confidence!).”

Source: Founders Grid – From Goldman Sachs to Launching a Boutique Fashion Startup in Nigeria, with Kunmi Otitoju, Founder of Minku

8. Nathaniel Disston, founder of VoyVoy

Founder of VoyVoy Nathaniel Disston
Founder of VoyVoy Nathaniel Disston | Photo from Entrepreneur.com

“On a Friday we secured fabric. I went to get it on Monday, and it all disappeared. A massive English shirt manufacturer had bought it all in those 48 hours.”

“Being a small company, everything’s a challenge.”

Source: Entrepreneur.com – Dressed for Success: How 3 Fashion Startups Are Revamping the Industry

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Running a startup can be really challenging at times, and sometimes reading about how others have overcame similar obstacles gives us the motivation and strength to carry on!

As Harriet Beecher Stowe once said,

When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you … never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.

If you’re looking to attract more customers and improve sales for your fashion startup, check out our list of 10 snazzy fashion referral programs!

Samuel Hum

As a finalist in Esquire's Best Dressed Real Man contest, Samuel is ReferralCandy's fashion ecommerce expert and resident sartorialist. He is obsessed with human behavior and social psychology.

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