Anthea Rowan left a long career in the consumer electronics industry to start fashion-tech brand, Code Republic, the maker of designer ‘work-bags’ for today’s woman. In its first year, the company signed a global brand partnership with Microsoft – they now design luxury women’s tech accessories for the entire ecosystem of Microsoft Surface products.
As its Chief Executive, Rowan is currently in the US fundraising & relocating their HQ, and offers AESTOLOGYY readers advice on succeeding in the world of fashion-tech and business.
AESTOLOGYY: What is ‘fashion-tech?’ How do you feel when you see the likes of Nike and Google collaborating on self-lacing sneakers?
ANTHEA: It’s basically about how we use technology to push boundaries in the fashion world. This could be in the way of wearable tech products – such Nike and Google – or innovation in manufacturing. Fashion tech is so broad, but design should solve a valid problem. For my fashion-tech startup, we believe technology is an ever growing part of everyone’s life, and there should be practical harmony with style.
AESTOLOGYY: What are three key pieces of advice you’d give to other females who are aspiring to launch a ‘fashion-tech’ startup?
Establish what you actually want.
Do you want a hobby side business? Do you want to build a global brand that encapsulates your entire DNA, and working experience? Defining what you want will dictate how you execute.
1 – Create a vision of what your brand and company looks like in a decade
Reverse engineer what the milestones need to look like for years 5, 3, 2 and 1 to reach this goal – then commit to achieving them! If the thought of committing 10 years to achieving your ultimate goal sound like way too much, then at this point I would suggest you stop. Entrepreneur life is not for you!
Entrepreneurship is a long game.
It requires a lot of hard work, discipline, early mornings, late nights, lack of social life, hurdles and challenges one after another repeatedly as you navigate your way through a start up and you need to have thick skin and be able to take it all in your stride and keep showing up day after day after day after day! which leads me to my next bit of advice.
2 – Find your purpose! Something you are so passionate about and absolutely love doing
If financial gain is your only driving factor then you will struggle and most likely become a statistic of startups that fail. You absolutely need a solid, scalable financial model but it will take time to test, refine and optimise your business into a well-oiled machine. Particularly if your start-up capital was on the smaller side. This purpose and fulfilment you get from what you are doing is what will power you through.
3 – How do you know it’s the right time? I don’t think you ever do.
I started in true entrepreneur style by jumping off a cliff, and assembling the plane on the way down. The only thing I knew was my level of commitment, and I had faith in my ability to figure it all out, I had the audacity, tenacity & insatiable desire to continuously keep learning and make it happen. I had worked all my life building such a unique skill set, I felt I had a duty to women around the world: “I don’t want to die wondering.”
|Product||Price (A$)||Buy Link|
|Surface Laptop 3||from $1999||AMAZON|
Charger 15W (20K)
AESTOLOGYY: What is your advice for other fashion-tech founders seeking to raise capital in the United States?
ANTHEA: Have a plan for how big you are going, and what an exit strategy might look like. Then do cap table dilution modelling so you know the direction in which your company is going. Learn about all about raising & equity dilution (vesting schedules, Safe Notes, convertible notes, pre seed, seed, Series A and so on).
Do your research on the VCs that are the right fit for you, and have an investment thesis in your type of business, or have portfolio companies similar to yours (not a direct competitor as this can become conflict of interest).
Always do your best to find a warm introduction from a reputable connection within the startup world.