I’ve written before about the wonderful friends and community I’ve built through online connections, and how that’s turned into real life, supportive relationships (Previous High Tea post)!
Another area of collaboration with these new friends was in the area of Business and Entrepreneurship! Stef of Broadworld.co is an expert branding specialist and was a great resource as my Co-Founder Monica and I were continuing to build up our Social Impact Startup – LookLab: an online platform for women to lend and borrow special occasion dresses at a reduced cost. This was launched as a 2-sided marketplace where Lenders included women who had dresses sitting in their closets unworn, and Borrowers who needed to wear a fashionable dress at a reduced cost. LookLab had the mission of encouraging sustainable fashion decisions by extending the lifecycle of dresses that are normally only worn once!
LookLab had already enjoyed several successes
- e@UBC affiliated venture with use of physical office space in Downtown Vancouver
- Access to e@UBC venture workshops and resources, notably, interacting with other ventures!
- 1st Place at Volition Pitch Night (Go Monica! Thanks for representing us 🙂 )
- Facebook Group with over 700+ members to share dresses
- Website launched with over 100+ dresses listed from Women in Vancouver
- Multiple Dress Lenders who shared multiple dresses
- Partnership with local Consignment Store to jointly list dresses and accessories
- Paying customers who were enjoying the services of a beautiful dress, for a fraction of the cost!
- Growing Social Media presence
While our original application to the e@UBC entrepreneurship program in February had 1 single studio and fulfillment centre to house our inventory, we had since moved on to test out different business models. In the late Spring, we decided to pivot to an AirBnB-like model: Enabling other women to become Boutique Hosts and open their own Dress Lending Boutique!
Constantly Iterating and Testing New Business Models
The idea was that LookLab had some early wins with our first location, and we wanted to expand that so there would be more flexibility and ultimately, to grow! In preparation for this new 3-sided marketplace model, Monica and I employed a divide and conquer process: I was working on the contract and setup for this model, while continuing to grow inventory, and Monica was interviewing potential Boutique Hosts. We also brought on Nina (@yourgirlneens) to join our team as Creative Design Lead and it was because of all these changes, I called up Stef for help!
Growing the Team and Asking for Help
In June, after some informative discussions with Stef, we collaborated on a branding workshop for LookLab as it progressed into this new business model! This was a great opportunity to invite Nina to join Monica and I in a joint planning session. We took advantage of our new workspace in Downtown Robson Square thanks to the e@UBC connections. At the same time, I invited a neighbouring Social Impact Venture, Vanessa founder of Floka!
One thing I really loved about being based downtown with other ventures was the opportunity to brainstorm and troubleshoot on problems together in REAL TIME! Vanessa and other Female Founders had already been so helpful in guiding us through things like the business incorporation process!
Organizing a Productive Workshop
Of course, the first step in having a productive workshop is to make sure everyone is fed! I was delighted to team up with my healthy meal delivery partners at 2 Guys with Knives to offer healthy food for all of us. I ordered vegetarian meals for some of the women and everything was gluten and dairy free! Creating original Food Photography content for them was one of my other entrepreneurial endeavours this past year.
Stef’s Branding Workshop – Prework and Questions
As part of the pre-work, Stef sent Monica and I some guiding questions. It was so helpful to have an experienced facilitator then guide us through all these important concepts!
Some of her questions for us to help put a framework behind our brand, our strategy, and how we would set and measure success.
In partnerships, it’s important you don’t assume you’re on the same page about every detail – it’s rare! Getting these things in writing as a reference point you can go back to is key – just like a marriage haha.
1. What do you want to be known and loved for? What are your strengths and differentiating factors?
- Price point
- High-fashion, trendy pieces, edgy clothing, vintage?
Phase 2 of this is ensuring you stay authentic to the above. Consistency is key.
2. Understand your value proposition, and how it translates to each medium. Write it down a million times over: What do you give your audience? They don’t care about your sales, or you, or any of the things you care about… they want to know what are you giving them? What do they get out of it?
- What do they get out of following your IG?
- What do they get by shopping with you?
- What do they feel when they go to events in a look from you?
3. Write these three things down, and then before you post any image, any phrase, any story, and event invite ask yourself if you’re telling this story:
- Write a tag line
- Write a mission statement. Start with, “We’re on a mission to….”
For me: I’m on a mission to show women they’ve had the power to do anything they’ve wanted to all along, and to show them how to harness it.
- Write down five things you want people to feel when they interact with your brand (either on IG, in person, or on a friend…) Start with, “We want everyone who finds a look to feel…”
4. Ask yourself why you’re doing this. If the answer is money or notoriety, that will be glaringly obvious. Of course, those are byproducts of success, but you have to sell people on why you’re doing ____.
Follow-up! Broad World Sip n Learn Branding Workshop Pt. 2
The LookLab team was in luck that Stef was actually planning a separate event later on in the month which both Nina and I attended, along with the “Podster” friends from High tea.
Stef’s Advice from this workshop
The exercise I enjoyed the most was when Stef asked the whole audience to ask *their* network:
“What are my 5 greatest strengths?”
I posed this to my friends and instagram and got some very insightful answers! I fully support the notion of getting feedback and being open to answers that may surprise you!
My crowdsourced defining strengths/skills
– You are a visionary with big ideas and think in ways most people don’t.
– Always connecting the dots for people, truly one of the most thoughtful people I know, and you care so much about others.
– You’re DRIVEN and motivated- killer work ethic.
– Most supportive person, I can tell you whatever and you won’t judge me
– You are fearless – willing to try anything.
– High level of dedication and persistence. Many things would not get off the ground without your efforts.
Guess who is saving this list for when I need a pick-me-up??
Many thanks to my talented friend and photographer Dhia (@imdhia) who shot LookLab photos for us in the Winter, and also many photos from my Young Professionals Personal Development Event Series!