Evelyn Frison and Yehua Yang are the founders of Pivotte - a clothing brand recently launched on Kickstarter. In fact, it's Cute LA's Kickstarter of the Month for February. Had a chance to ask these strong women entrepreneurs what it's like to jump into the fashion business. They provided great insight on creating your own business, detailed steps they took and benefits of being your own boss. Read on, to learn from these best friends who started a successful business together.
// What's the inspiration behind Pivotte? //
The inspiration for Pivotte came from our daily lives. We (Yehua and Evelyn) had different types of “on-the-go” lifestyles, but we shared a similar frustration with stylish women’s clothing - it just couldn’t keep up.
The desire to be prepared to quickly switch roles, activities and environments, coupled with the lack of viable fashionable clothing options – led us to Pivotte.
Also, we wanted to infuse our brand with a sense of empowerment. We want the women who wear our clothing to feel confident and be ready for anything. In Pivotte, feel great (and comfortable) and simultaneously look great - the combination which is not to be underestimated!
// How did you get started creating it? //
It’s been a long journey, but we’ll try to simplify it:
Once we identified our shared need for clothing that could withstand the rigors of our demanding schedules, we conducted focus groups to gain insight into how women were managing their busy lives. After that, we spent a period of time doing a lot of research. We also thoroughly shopped the market - nearly every women’s brand big and small - and consistently found that stylish brands couldn’t hold up to our rigorous lifestyles, and functional brands that could, weren’t appropriate for activities outside of the gym, hiking or climbing.
When we hit the creative stage, it began with a lot of brainstorming sessions. We explored different branding directions and product choices. Pinterest was actually instrumental in this stage because it allowed us to pull together thousands of images and pieces of inspiration, then look through the results and analyze patterns that emerged.
At the same time we were pulling favorite items from our own wardrobes and getting really analytical about every detail. We picked apart everything we didn’t like, so we could make sure to fix those problems in our own line.
From there, we sketched, re-sketched, consulted with the top sample and pattern makers, and produced samples. Then tested those samples, and went through the process again until we got everything to line up with our vision. We also asked for feedback along the way from other women, and fellow female entrepreneurs (who we think the line is perfect for!).
// What is the most difficult aspect of being entrepreneurs? //
The most difficult aspect of being entrepreneurs is establishing the authority of your brand.
We were lucky to have relationships with relevant, great vendors and manufacturers prior to launching Pivotte. But we’ve seen and been in situations where vendors aren’t confident about your business, so they may not want to take the risk of producing orders, or providing materials and services. To get over that hurdle, you have to put in the effort and research to build strong relationships. With a little time we managed to get experts on our side, and they have been invaluable since.
// What is an aspect people might not know about going into business on their own? //
Something people might not know about going into business on their own is that you don’t have to actually go into it alone!
We’ve joined several women’s business clubs and groups, and they have turned out to not only be fun, but extremely valuable resources. We highly recommend finding groups where you are and participating in their events often. If you don’t have one - start one! It can start with something as simple as a facebook group.
// What is the most rewarding aspect of being entrepreneurs? //
It’s hard to pick! We have different opinions on that.
Evelyn: The most rewarding thing is getting positive feedback from Customers. There are people we don’t know, who are messaging us saying that our apparel is just what they’ve been looking for. It feels really good to not only make clothing that people like on a visual level, but apparel that solves a lifestyle problem or at least enhances how they move through the day.
Yehua: Definitely the feedback direct with customers has been a great reward. It was a huge part of our decision to make our retail model direct to consumer only, and forgo the traditional fashion wholesale/retail route. The brand has evolved organically since its inception, but that’s been a great part of the learning experience, and we hope to be able to run with that and always continue to grow and evolve with our audience.
// What's the best piece of advice or tips for someone that wants to become their own boss? //
We have different pieces of advice:
Evelyn: I’m going to cheat on this question and offer three pieces of advice.
- Be really clear about your brand and vision. It may take a while to make this a concise statement, but pursue it intensely. Make sure it works as the foundation of your brand for all activities going forward.
- Be disciplined about your time.
- Don’t go at it alone - find a partner, or join a startup group.
Yehua: Make sure you do it for the right reasons! Start-up life is hard! Anyone who’s worked in the fashion industry knows we’re not shy on working long hours, so it’s something I’m used to. But being your own boss brings it to a whole new level, it basically means you’re never off the clock, so you really have to want it, and believe in it and to want to build something of value to give back to your community.
What do you think about all of this insight? Let me know in the comments!