#BehindTheScenes at Start it Fashion & Creative Bootcamp: Designer boots hit the ground running
In addition to our Bootcamp for new startups, this year we held an additional Bootcamp for our new Start it Fashion & Creative track. This extra day of intensive training was adapted to the world of fashion. It was planned together with the City of Antwerp and held at the place to be: at our friend Cresco in Antwerp!
The three themes of the day were the same as for the Fashion & Creative track in general: 1) the Flemish entrepreneurial ecosystem, 2) sustainability and 3) how to internationalise. These are the foundations for growing forward-thinking fashion and creative startups!
Deep dive into the fashion landscape
We kicked off a jam-packed day with an intro by Start it @KBC, Katrien Huygens of the City of Antwerp, and David Dessers of Cresco law firm. David has a taste for great design, which you can really see from the Cresco office. Combine that with entrepreneurial skill, and you have everything you need to help fashion & creative entrepreneurs grow. Based on his experience, he shared why intellectual property is essential for protecting creative ideas.
So what does that fashion landscape look like in Flanders? Lien De Grom (Digital Project Manager at Fashion Fever) and Nathalie De Schepper (Founder of Tiny Dreams) told our startups all about it. Suffice it to say they have a pretty solid overview of the Belgian fashion industry and the Flemish entrepreneurial ecosystem in general! They took our startups through a thorough stakeholder mapping, highlighting the importance of creating collaborative networks.
Our business coach Inge Wouters knows the ropes of the fashion industry, having been through the highs and lows of running her own fashion business. Now she puts her experience to work guiding fashion and creative startups. Her workshop mapped the needs of the startups, for the Start it Academy for Fashion & Creative! This new learning program is being co-created with our fashion and creative startups.
Sustainability at the heart of business
Sustainable fashion consultant Jasmien Wynants, also one of the members of the circularity panel discussion at Connect X, was there to give startups all the ins and outs on sustainability. With climate change accelerating, sustainability will be the next major battlefield where brands compete for millennial spend. Green Deal proposals aim to make sustainable products the norm, spelling the end of fast fashion and a move towards circular fashion. She gave a thorough overview of what this move entails exactly and how startups can build in a sustainability strategy from Day One.
"Buy now, pay later isn't sustainable in the long run"
During the panel discussion led by our mentor Suyin Aerts and featuring An-Katrien Dullers of Marnix and Ally, Lode Van Laere of TONICKX and Joy Van der Heijden of Pursuit Femmes and Toon Torfs of Torfs Shoes, the latter talked about how to compete with online retailers and retail giants, and why “buy now, pay later” isn’t sustainable in the long run. “You can make a difference through transparency”, said An-Katrien, emphasising the importance of having good values and writing a good brand story. “These days we have to take into account a lot of global trends, with climate front and centre. And it’s clear that mass production isn’t adapted to today’s constantly changing climate.”
Going beyond the borders
International business expert Ysabel Nauwelaerts covered internationalisation in the fashion and creative industries. Many fashion and creative companies conduct a substantial part of their sales outside of their home country. But expanding beyond national borders requires knowledge of the foreign context and consumer habits, as well as a good sense of one’s internal strength in terms of human and operational capital.
Startups must prepare well and develop their international strategy and vision and objectives well in advance. She went over things to consider when looking at exporting products, and stressed the importance of listening to local experts to adapt your international strategy to the local environment. Luckily startups have the support of the resources (Local FIT advisors, local Chambers of Commerce, Flanders DC, ...) she recommended, as well as being able to turn to her for advice!
What connected today’s main themes: the importance of a strong network, both inside and outside of the fashion industry. Which is why we wrapped up the day with a networking moment over drinks and bites, where our startups got to mingle with alumni, mentors, and partners. They left with plenty of ideas and inspiration to kick off an exciting year of growth
Check out the creative & fashion startups that have been selected for the program: