Interview with a career change mum - Leva Zu
Today I interview Leva Zu who is a fashion entrepreneur and founder of Fashion Bloc. Fashion Bloc is a combination of her journalistic and recruitment experiences and of course, her genuine passion to discover and help independent fashion designers.
1. What gave you the idea to start up your business?
Fashion Bloc was a continuation of my Master’s project at London College of Fashion. For my Master’s I created an online platform introducing hand-picked fashion designers from the Baltic states and some Eastern European countries, such as Belarus. After graduating, and still working as a fashion recruiter in the recruitment agency for fashion and luxury brands, I continued to develop (or, to be precise, maintain) the platform. When I found out I was pregnant, I was already working on the idea to grow this project into a business and deep down I knew that it’s the best exit strategy from my office job.
2. What did you do to prepare to start up your business?
I did everything! But I couldn’t have done it without my partner’s support, including financial backing. However, I did all I could to try and launch lean: crowd funding on Indiegogo, launch event, special event for fashion bloggers, I visited fashion weeks, international fashion showcases, spoke with as many designers in person as possible, I graduated from Google for Mums pre-accelerator, which I started when Alex, my son, was 3 weeks old.
3. Which aspects of your business did you need help with? Where did you get that help?
Website development, accounting were the first services I outsourced. I also hired a PR for my launch, which was not the smartest move at the early stage. And I really need help with Marketing and Sales – that’s my long-term battle with myself. I do most of it myself but I would really love to find a partner to share this responsibility – there’s just not enough hours in a day.
4. Describe what your business does and who you target it at / your ideal client
Fashion Bloc is a lean fashion agency and editorial platform supporting independent fashion designers. Our editorial content is anything but mainstream. I love discovering new fashion cities and still mostly write about the fashion scene in Eastern Europe. That’s one part of the businesses. The other part is educational. It’s a DIY fashion agency where anyone can sign up and use our resources, know-how and contacts packed in a monthly email, for a small fee. The idea is – to make an agency accessible and affordable to any emerging fashion designer. So yes, our main clients – emerging fashion brands or established fashion brands from emerging destinations looking to grow internationally.
5. What is the most rewarding thing about having your own business?
Being relatively flexible with time, and your own boss. Also, learning hundreds of new things that you would never learn working for a company.
6. What has been the biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge still is growing it to a sustainable business. I perfectly know that the type of start-up I run requires a lot of time. The challenge is; however, I don’t work full time (officially) as I spend time with my son as well, it is sometimes frustrating to juggle both and see the incredibly slow growth.
7. If you could go back and give yourself some advice what would it be?
Don’t do a custom-built platform, don’t hire a PR, be more opportunistic.
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