Lindy Staadecker, Anoesjcka Gianotti and Michelle Parekh are the founders of Students of Design (SODS). Launched in early 2016, SODS (Student of Design Lid) is a highly innovative new shopping site which champions emerging fashion and lifestyle designers.
SODS is the brainchild of the three young business women who with their combined experience and skills in fashion, design and business developed SODS to support young talented British designers. At the same time they wanted to offer consumers the opportunity to have instant access to designers making one-off items and garments that are unique and individual.
Together the founders’ mission is to make SODS a global brand. Their aim is to bring exciting new products to the market, solve young designers problems of debt and help them get a start in the competitive design industries and ultimately help small British manufacturers by bringing local talent and production back to the UK.
What inspired you to start a business?
We saw there was a great gap in the market to help emerging designers on their quest to bring their product to market without racking up debt. We could see a trend whereby shoppers are moving away from buying mass produced and readily available items and are looking for unique niche items.
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?
The greatest challenge in being your own boss is keeping focussed on the end goal and staying motivated. We are fortunate enough to be a three driving this project – we believe it is easier and things move so much faster because of our dynamic. We have each other to rely on both at work and personally and that’s a pretty great reward for eating, sleeping and breathing our project 24/7.
What motivational tips can you give to our members?
This is very cliche but never give up. Mistakes are your toughest teacher, we have learnt so much.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?
Deciding what capabilities we need and developing the structure of our platform has been both our biggest achievement and the greatest challenge as a business. We had no idea when we started, how complex keeping things simple can be. Our idea to insure that designers were promoted to both the public and industry buyers simultaneously, depending on how the customer accessed the site, was something new and we had no predecessor on which to model it. We spent a great deal longer then initially expected, testing and adjusting the site to get us to the point where we are today.
How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?
All three of us have received mentoring or coaching in various forms. When we started our project a huge part of how we rolled out the plan was drawing in all the successful people we knew. We used their experience and listened to advice.The UKFT have played a very supportive mentoring roll for us and so have our partners, friends and even our designers who’ve we created this platform for. Advice, guidance and inspiration comes from so many avenues.
What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?
Networking is a great way to meet and interact with larger corporations, meet with strategic partners and the perfect opportunity to test your elevator pitch. We have had designers and buyers believing in our project before our platform went live, all down to us meeting them face to face. Networking gives you an opportunity to get in front of customers, and investors – it’s a huge part of any successful business.
What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?
We have worked towards having a solid business plan, which we adjust according to the market regularly- this helps us to pinpoint when we need to hire, spend larger sums of money and attract funding. Our profits and investments are spent on hiring the right people. Putting the right team in place is so important, especially once you have proved your business model works.
What does the future hold for you?
We are going be the go to site for the most talented new designers and brands, a springboard for the next generation of independent designers and the ultimate shopping destination of on-line shoppers. We know we have a big task infront of us with all the uncertainty around Brexit, but we feel it will force creatives to do more intensive research, which will work in our favour. They will look for less risky route-to-market avenues to turn their work into revenue faster. Students of Design will give them the chance they need to succeed independently and debt free.