Find the right balance

Staiy sustainable fashion brands and breakthrough personalization technology, in one single and interactive platform.

How did you get the idea of Staiy?

We were inspired to create something that could raise the standards of the online fashion experience, as the fast growing market has room for improvement under many aspects. In the beginning we were focusing on a solution that could significantly reduce the returns problem, as they harm businesses and our planet. Deep diving into the fashion industry, we found out that the returns are just a tiny part of a system that needs to be restructured. Bit by bit, the idea developed into something with the potential of making a change for a better future: the first sustainable fashion marketplace with AI personalization.

Why did you decide to start with Staiy?

Throughout university, many times the discussion focused on utopic startup ideas which never took off. This time was different, we were in our last year of university in Berlin. The city is full of opportunities, startups and talent, and it’s constantly changing. No wonder that many stories of success come from here. Under many aspects, Berlin taught us how easy it is to have a lower impact on the planet in your daily life and how to think out of the box. It seems almost effortless here, and it’s done in a cool way. 

Therefore, the decision to start was a mix of perfect circumstances: the city is simply set up for people with ideas, a bigger vision and drive. Our ESCP studies gave us the right preparation to face the startup world and its challenges. The team had alchemy already ongoing before the start and quickly picked up a fast-paced working rhythm. The need of a product that could make an impact motivated us. The market was lacking a point of reference for sustainable fashion. All the elements suggested to try, so we simply said… “why not?”

What is the vision behind Staiy?

Staiy’s vision is “to bring sustainable shopping to every customer.” We believe that the main area of improvement for sustainable fashion is accessibility and personalization: it’s hard for people to find a place where to shop in a better way. So they take the quick path and buy from those fashion giants that offer a bit of everything and are easily found. The sustainable fashion industry can only be effective if it’s able to pick up a portion of these buyers.

Our mission, the reason for Staiy to be in the market, is “to accelerate the transition towards sustainable fashion, making it cool, easy and accessible”. Being able to attract every type of customer is for us a must: it’s the way for a smooth transition towards a lower impact fashion. To fulfill our vision and mission, we have set the bar very high in terms of user interface, experience, and brands selection. Like so, we can show through an appealing platform that you can be sustainable without compromising your style.

How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?

The start was quite exciting, but it had ups and downs. The team was facing every challenge with motivation and confidence. We were lucky to have mentors and coaches to support and help us make the right decisions. The period of time in which we were developing the algorithm for style personalization was definitely hard. Many things were happening: exams were approaching, group projects and other tasks were due, we had coaching sessions, had to perfectionise the business model and on top, a strict deadline to deliver the metadata for the algorithm. The whole technology process is incredibly lengthy, and overall we graded more than 40 thousand data points, with the help of our outstanding friends.

As all of these things were happening, we had to give up our social life. It became difficult to balance university, startup, friends, and partners. Therefore, we organized brunch sessions at our house on weekends. Our friends would come to have a nice meal altogether, and then helped us out with the metadata. It was a great compromise. We felt our friends’ amazing support and approval while moving faster towards the deadline. We ate lots of food and had that bit of social life for which we barely had time for. An all-inclusive solution, where the best of both worlds merged. 

Who is your target audience?

We believe that sustainability will become the norm in the fashion industry. In the long run, Staiy aims at attracting the widest public possible. Our goal is to show that sustainable and fashionable go together to the large public so that a real impact in the industry can be made. After we have created a large community, we can educate them and guide them towards circular fashion. 

To start off with, we target everyone that is interested in fashion and sustainability in general, those people who make an effort to lower their impact while staying stylish. In other words, the Berliners of the world. They are the ones that guide the transition towards a better fashion.

What is the USP of your startup?

Staiy represents the merger of sustainable fashion brands and breakthrough personalization technology, in one single and interactive platform. Sustainable fashion platforms are a times limited in the experience that they offer to their users. The consumer journey and brand’s experience has to be optimized to be able to attract a large community and make a significant impact. It takes time, but we aim at keeping at pace with the giant’s standards in terms of user experience.

Can you describe your typical workday?

We are a very flexible team and each one of us has its most productive times of the day. There are morning workers and night workers, and we are more task-oriented rather than time-oriented. We structure the work for the month based on goals and then break it down. Each one of us has its tasks for the week and that’s the main focus, but we also jump in and help each other out anytime. It’s always good to be on the same page and to discuss doubts and opportunities, while improving our skillset. 

Usually, we start off at 9, each one working on his tasks. Mainly mails and calls in the morning when all of the other offices are open. Lunchtime is about 40 minutes, and it’s important to make sure it is a proper break with no work thoughts (even though it’s hard). After lunch, we have a stand-up meeting where we discuss achievements, doubts or important things. Then, we carry on working until about 6.30, when it’s gym or soccer time. Keeping the body in shape and getting our stress released is key for a healthy routine. After the gym, we have dinner together and we work while relaxing, maybe laying down on the couch, and we discuss the (many) things to be solved or approached. Bedtime really depends on individual habits, but often over midnight.

Over the last period, the amount of work has been quite overwhelming and we are pulling of 14h working days with no weekends off. This is something that is part of the startup life, and you have to be ready to face it. The important part is keeping lucidity, understanding what is healthy for you and for the team’s productivity.

Where do you see yourself and your startup Staiy in five years?

It is tough to do predictions, but we are driven dreamers. We see Staiy as among the most influential companies in driving the transition towards sustainable fashion and more. We believe in innovation and sustainability as the main driver of growth and among the most important factors to the welfare of our community.

Towards this goal, we are moving one step at the time: it’s always good to take ambitious aims and look at the stars, but it’s equally important to know where you are at the moment and where is your next one step to move forward. 

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?

Work out the numbers

In the beginning, it’s easy to get super optimistic about your idea and be sure that you will succeed. That’s a great start, but it’s not a business yet.

The moment you break down all of your potential costs and revenues, your idea starts to become a startup. Considering all of the expenses to start and maintain the company not only provides a good overview of the feasibility of your business model, it also means higher chances of receiving an investment. Showing that even small expenses are taken into account is a synonym of professionality and multilevel understanding of all the facets of your business. 

Find the right balance

The startup life is great, but it can be tough at times: your habitual work-life equilibriums will definitely be reshaped.

To perform at best in your worklfe, you have to find the right balance both in and out of the “office” (most probably anywhere with a WiFi). In an era where we are always online, it’s easy to forget about these boundaries. It’s always important to leave a time frame to get it all out: gym, sports and drinks are moments to treasure! Always make sure that everybody in your team has a clear task and that the roles are split when working, but also that they are having a healthy balance: it’s the best way to move forward and keep satisfaction high. 

In order to achieve your goals and mission there is always something to give up, but never forget to celebrate your achievements!   

Talk

Communication is fundamental. It’s essential to the success of your startup. There are two main areas where communication is fundamental: outside and within your team.

When you start, it’s easy to feel like you should protect your idea. People are scared to talk about it because they are afraid someone could steal their billions dollars project. We learned that every time you engage in a conversation about your startup you see a different perspective. All these perspectives teach you something and help you in developing the idea. If we think about our journey within the past months, it has been an incredible ride and evolution. Go talk to people, especially those who have seen more than you or that are experts in your industry. 

Within your team, organize feedback session. Too often people tend to keep things for themselves, and that ends up harming the company and individual relationships. We organize feedback sessions, about every month or couple months. In these, each team member says what they like and what they dislike about other team members. It’s a great way to bond by being in complete honesty, while gathering feedback. It worked out great for us to make sure that everybody was aware of where they were appreciated and where they had to improve. If you want a great startup you need a team that is willing to be at their best, and being aware of strengths and weaknesses is the first step.

More information you will find here

Thank you for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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