Launching BTI in 2021 with Robin Vindevogel presented new challenges and the excitement of building a venture in the unknown. It started with a trip to Biella in Italy to explore factories, historic fabric mills and all forms of culinary delight.
The irony rang true, widely regarded as one of the least fashionable people in london according to friends and family, launching a fashion tech company seemed a long shot! BTI aims to solve a common problem. The odds are stacked so heavily against retail entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their fashion brand that 60% fail within 3 years.
So, what if there was a way to tip the scales back in the retail entrepreneurs’ favour?
It’s typically the lack of industry knowledge and modest funding that inhibits initial market penetration. Credibility, weak purchasing power and supply chain management reinforce the difficulties faced by so many with a dream.
The solution BTI offers is simple, we are a spin out of a major European fashion family who have fostered relationships with the worlds premier production partners over 60 years. For the first time, ambitious brands can benefit from the Vindevogel family’s purchasing power in clothing, managing their day to day business through bespoke order management software that communicates with a well-established production partner. By leveraging the families clothing supply chain, our clients benefit from preferential prices, creating advantageous margins, affording retail entrepreneurs the best chance of success.
Perhaps not on quite the same scale (yet!) but imagine setting out to launch a craft beer brand, using the purchasing power of Brewdog with no minimum orders.
12 months after launching BTI, the team have had the privilege of supporting inspired retail entrepreneurs in the UK, Europe and South America as they grow their brands. One lesson Robin and I have learned is the importance of pivoting the companies offering based on the feedback we regularly ask our clients for.
In June we built a Creative Advisory arm to the business, so that retail entrepreneurs feel confident not only in production but also when the need arises to visually convey their brand through social media, photography and design.
Later this year we will be rolling out a range of business advisory services such as brand mentoring, business formation and growth strategy designed to guide retail entrepreneurs through the intricacies of scaling a brand, taught by those who have achieved it first hand. I was recently asked by an investor what lessons we’d learned since launching which would have been useful to know from the outset.
There are plenty! But the 3 that stand out are:
1 - The ‘start again’ mentality is key. Days will vary, so figure out what works for your team to keep the hunger high, irrespective of good or bad days
2 - Work with people with contrasting skillsets, it’s amazing the tasks some people find easy that seem impossible to others
3 - Never has a handwritten letter been so powerful As for the next 12 months? Adam Clacher recently joined the team as Commercial Director. Adam brings a wealth of experience in luxury fashion, delivering projects for the likes of Gieves & Hawkes, Kent & Curwen and Hackett London.
A new website in February and in March we will be moving into a bigger office on London’s Strand. We will begin producing sales data insights for our clients, giving them the ability to forward plan for upcoming trends, which we hope will give them the edge in their respective markets.
What will remain unchanged however is our ambition to help retail entrepreneurs around the world to grow their brands through our production, creative and advisory services whilst maintaining a great level of service for our clients, as it’s our clients that have shaped our business more than anyone.