Dressed for Success: How 3 Fashion Startups Are Revamping the Industry

Taking on the magazine, jewelry and men's apparel industry, these startups are vitally changing the way we dress and shop.

learn more about Tatiana Hayakawa

By Tatiana Hayakawa

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With the fashion industry seeing its fair share of disruption, entrepreneurs are heading to co-working space Projective Space to get in on the action.

Nestled on top of the famed Zarin Fabrics -- the go-to shop for Sex and the City, Cashmere Mafia and Lipstick Jungle designers -- the original Projective Space is home to more than 60 startups, many fashion focused. Everyone from fashion-subscription service BeSpoke Post to iStyle has or does call this place home.

While Projective Space's initial spot was located in the trendy SoHo neighborhood at 447 Broadway, the newer branch is located at 72 Allen Street. Both come equipped with plenty of space to work, along with an event area, conference room and after hours bar and lounge. They also give access to SkillShare-hosted classes and networking events like the Future of Fashion series, which have connected members with investors like Chris Dixon. To take advantage of these amenities, you will need to fork over $350 for communal workspace or $450 for a dedicated desk a month.

Related: The Future of Fashion Design Is Mobile

To get a sense of what it is like to launch a fashion startup, we asked three entrepreneurs from Projective Space to give us the skinny. Here are their edited responses:

Dressed for Success: How 3 Fashion Startups Are Revamping the Industry
Verily magazine founder Kara Eschbach

Kara Eschbach

Co-founder, Verily magazine

The glossy pages of fashion magazines offer visual escapes filled with exotic destinations and fabulous clothes, yet the ugly truth is these magazines are often criticized for contributing to young women's low self-esteem and eating disorders. Verily magazine is trying to change that with their no Photoshop policy and opting for lifestyle and full-figure catwalkers to show fashion.

Q: What drew you to this industry?

A: After doing banking with Credit Suisse, I realized I wanted to do something I personally was invested in. I've been a bit of a women's magazine junkie growing up and throughout college. I've always had magazines like Domino sitting around, and I picked up advice from them. I made the jump to fashion, because it was a great opportunity to learn about making a business.

Q: What has been your biggest startup challenge?

A: We [co-founder Janet Sahm and myself] started from ground zero. We didn't had some big blog or a strong social media following, and we didn't necessarily have a ton connections in the industry. We did a lot of knocking on doors, asking for advice and trying to figure out what the next move is.

Related: 8 Event Marketing Tips From a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Producer

Q: Best advice for fellow entrepreneurs looking to get started in this industry?

A: I find attending smaller, more intimate events where you're having a real conversation with someone is better than going through a large network. Personal introductions are always best, so you should try to figure out how you have a connection with someone. I've also found some unexpected mentors come from people thinking I wanted to hire them for something and they've said, "I'm not really right for you, but I'd be happy to give you advice."

Dressed for Success: How 3 Fashion Startups Are Revamping the Industry
Stone & Strand co-founders Brooke Magnaghi and Nadine McCarthy

Nadine McCarthy

Co-founder, Stone & Strand

As a child, McCarthy received a precious jade and gold necklace from her grandmother, a gift which got her hooked on jewelry. She had never purchased a piece for herself before and felt overwhelmed trying to buy on her own, as did her girlfriends. Seeing a need to fill the bauble-knowledge gap, McCarthy visited numerous stores to bone up. With her new-found expertise, she created online fine jewelry marketplace Stone & Strand, an intimate buying and advice guide featuring designer profiles, personal shopping, custom designing, resizing and cleaning.

Related: Fashion Trend for 2014: Country Couture on the Rise

Q: What drew you to this industry?

A: When I first got engaged, my husband got the ring specially designed and I had to get it cleaned and resized twice. I didn't know where to go, so I ended up going to a really sub-par place in the diamond district. I had later spoken to a lot of friends who shared similar stories of not knowing how to take care of their jewelry, so I wanted to provide help to consumers in buying and taking care of pieces.

Q: What has been your biggest startup challenge?

A: You have to prioritize and understand what the core of your business is and who the core customer is. Every day we get tons of emails and different opportunities, and we have to decide what's going to make Stone & Strand successful.

Q: Best advice for fellow entrepreneurs looking to get started in this industry?

A: It's really about finding a business in an industry that you're really passionate about, because it's going to be much more difficult and take more time than you anticipate.

Dressed for Success: How 3 Fashion Startups Are Revamping the Industry
VoyVoy founder Nathaniel Disston

Nathaniel Disston

Founder, VoyVoy

Although you don't typically think of Rupert Murdoch as a style trendsetter, he was spotted on Twitter donning a polo from up-and-coming men's e-commerce site VoyVoy. The brand is run by a four-person team and specializes in fun, classic men's shirts ranging between $20 and $100. VoyVoy slashes costs for their high-quality products by sourcing fabrics directly, working closely with factories in Peru, New York and China and selling straight to customers.

Related: What's Fashionable in Apparel E-Commerce

Q: What drew you to this industry?

A: I ran a business making surfboards and selling them online. They're really expensive by the time they get to stores, as they pass through a lot of hands. I cut the middle man, and years later I took that same concept to clothing.

Q: What has been your biggest startup challenge?

A: Being a small company, everything's a challenge. For example, on a Friday we secured fabric. I went to get it on Monday, and it all disappeared. A massive English shirt manufacturer had bought it all in those 48 hours.

Q: What resources have helped you the most in starting up?

A: The internet helped, as I can sell all over the world. Social media helps us get in touch with people instantly. A lot of our initial sales came through our Facebook page.

Tatiana Hayakawa

Current a senior at New York University, Tatiana Hayakawa is double majoring in journalism and English literature with a minor in media, culture and communications. She is an aspiring fashion journalist currently interning at Women’s Wear Daily where she covers fashion, arts and culture events. 

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