In this episode of Good Business, we speak to Sarah Garner, founder of Retyke, about her journey to creating a sustainable kids' clothing company.
Sarah Garner is the founder of Retykle, Asia’s leading resale platform for buying and selling designer children’s and maternity clothing, accessories and gear. After an illustrious career in fashion, Sarah had her first child. She saw firsthand how quickly kids grow out of their clothes. Did you know that a baby changes seven sizes throughout their first two years? To tackle this problem, Sarah launched Retykle which is now present in Hong Kong and Singapore. In this episode, she shares her journey, from fundraising to launching in a new market to finding new ways to innovate and improve the customer journey. With a lot of knowledge, insight and clarity, Sarah sheds light on her experience building a “Good Business”.
In this conversation we learnt…
– How Retykle started with a personal pain point (03:42 – 06:53)
– Sarah’s uphill battle educating the public about second-hand fashion (07:36 – 13:49)
– Expanding Retykle into Singapore and beyond (14:07 – 17:36)
– How to maximise growth through funding and grants (17:36 – 21:02)
– Their new programme, ‘Buy Now, Sell Later’ and how to fuel innovation in a company (21:37- 28:40)
– How to hack funding as a woman (29:35 – 35:44)
“I think like with many entrepreneurial stories, mine starts with a personal pain point.” (4:04)
Sarah Garner started her career in luxury fashion, working across New York, Toronto and Hong Kong. She had extensive experience across inventory management, merchandising, buying etc before she became a mum. That’s when inspiration hit. As Sarah was sitting with a whole lot of outgrown clothes (in many cases they still had the tags on!), she wanted to create a solution to recirculate the garments. How can she match a person with the item? Thus, Retykle was born.She wanted to solve it in a very small way to begin with and then was really fueled by her passion to create something that was viable and scalable to address the problem on a larger scale.
“Serving the customer well is the best marketing strategy.” (13:30)
Having come from a luxury background, Sarah is hyper aware of the power of customer service and how much that can affect your experience retention and advocacy. Especially since the main audience for Retykle is Mums, there is a strong network effect. Mums share information that is part of their toolkit for handling motherhood, and if you can become a habit, which is enhanced by good customer service, they will be your marketing megaphone.
“I think these are two key ingredients – planning well and hiring well.” (15:46)
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sarah’s plan to launch their brand in Singapore was delayed for almost a year. But as they were keen to bring Retykle to more markets(as it is a global problem that needs to be localised), they eventually launched Singapore without physically being there. They opened the market remotely and hired a team remotely. Sarah didn’t meet the team for about nine months after opening! But she also found that having done it once, she will be able to replicate it far more easily.
“The negative or critical comments are the ones that we try to source the most… because there’s always something that is not working well, and those are the things that you want to tease out and try to solve” (28:23)
In Sarah’s experience, innovating or making improvements within the organisation has been iterative. Instead of a-ha moments or lightning bolts, they have a close relationship with the customer, listening to their feedback and making meaningful changes.. Specifically, their new offering, “Buy Now, Sell Later”, was implemented as customers shared that items purchased from Retykle weren’t accepted for resale. Through this programme, customers are able to resell the clothes when their child grows out of it, the garments will also recirculate in the system, and Retykle can track the number of rounds it has done.
“When the mass majority of investors are men, the mass majority of capital is going to be in businesses that resonate with them as a demographic. (30:10)
At the simplest level, the reason why you see so much capital going to men and male-led businesses is due to the representation at the investor level. Plus, in fundraising, women tend to be self-deprecating – either discrediting themselves or hedging. On the other hand, men, particularly in a business context, tend to overstate and become overly optimistic.
And this tends to have a negative impact on access to capital for women and as a result, women tend to run their businesses with more risk aversion. Including running either more sustainable or more top-line centric businesses, as opposed to men who are more confident that capitals are readily available for them.
Chris Edwards (03:34)
So I know a little bit about your story, but maybe you can just share with our audience a little bit about how Retykle started.
Sarah Garner (03:42)
I started my career in luxury fashion. So I started out in New York and then in Toronto, where I’m from, and then moved to Hong Kong in 2007. And and worked in a corporate roles and and so I had worked with inventory management, merchandising buying a whole array of fields within fashion, and then I became a mom. And I think with many entrepreneurial stories, it starts with a personal pain point. And mine was that yeah, it was sitting with all of these outgrown clothes that in many cases I hadn’t even pulled the tags off of, or he had worn them once. And he just went through the sizes much more quickly than than I guess I had even imagined kids would, would grow. And so I wanted to figure out how do I recirculate? How do I match these algorithms with somebody that that would need and want them and how do I make sure that they don’t go to waste? And I think many entrepreneurial stories, too. It’s like a confluence of things that happen all of the same at the same time. And then you go, I want to solve this and and mine was that epiphany in my own closet. But then also I had received a lot of hand me downs from a friend before Henry was born. And some of them were useful, and some of them weren’t and I found the ones that weren’t useful were things like the season was off of when he was born, or they were not to my taste and and what ended up happening is that I evaluated the second hand value of those items. And by item, I don’t know why it was, that was my impulse. But I gave my friend who had given me the the items, a gift card for the amount that I thought they were worth at secondhand. And from there, and she was thrilled because she had three kids to continue clothing. And I was I was very happy to receive them. And, and from there, I just felt that there was something in terms of that exchange that wasn’t happening in the existing market where there was value to be exchanged, there was a lot of waste being created and thrown away in many cases that could be could be reused, and I just wanted to solve for it. And I wanted to solve it in a very small way to to begin with and then was just really fueled by a passion to create something that was viable and scalable to address the problem on a on a larger scale. So so we started as a consignment platform, which is sellers just clear out their closets. And then we do all of the work on their behalf and and they get paid when their items sell. And on the buyer side, we tried to create it. I’m from the luxury background. So I wanted to create an experience that felt really as good as shopping and new and came with a lot of the touch points that you would find in a luxury or very high end experience in terms of customer service and other other aspects of the business. So it’s been a journey, and we did open our doors in 2016, or open our website doors in 2016. And that was from my bedroom, seven months pregnant. So it’s been it has been we’re in year six now. And I suppose we’re at the beginning of year seven. So it’s been a journey from the beginning. Yeah, but very happy that we’ve been alongside each other for all these years.
Chris Edwards (06:53)
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it has been great to follow your journey. And, you know, we’ve touched base across the pond a few times, you’re being based in Hong Kong, and I was based in Singapore at the time. And I’ve always found your journey incredibly interesting and inspiring. And that’s why you’re here today, mainly because I think you were very, very early in your concept. And I also think, to bring in a I suppose a luxury experience into a secondhand pre loved market, and educate the Asian market about pre loved is a very ambitious goal. And I’d love to talk to that now. So has that been one of the big challenges?
Sarah Garner (07:36)
Yeah, and I think I was I was semi naive about it. When when I started because I had some indicators. I mean, there at the time, I knew there was no secondhand that that market did not exist here and was more common place in Canada, where I’m from at least like charity shops or offline charity shops or secondhand shops, you could always think of somewhere in your neighbourhood where you would you would find a secondhand shop in Hong Kong that was not so there was only things like Milan station, which were plastic wrapped, secondhand handbags, which had maybe been wrapped in scarves or just absolutely pristine condition. And that was all that it existed really on the on the market at the time. And what I found when I first arrived in Hong Kong was something quite different when you went to a store. So I worked at Lane Crawford when I first arrived and some customer Chinese customer would try on an item, decide to buy it, but then they would request a brand new one from the stockroom. And they would want and expect then the new items come in a plastic wrap. And so that that was something very different culturally from Canada where if you try something on in the store, you’re very pleased to take that item home with you, irrespective of the fact that three other people are at 10 Other people had tried on that item. So I had these like smell I had been in the market at that point for at least eight years. So I had some indications of the apprehensions or disdain for things that weren’t pristine and brand new. But I don’t think I really knew the depth of the stigma around around secondhand until I really got started because I was within the foreigner market. And so I knew within the foreigner market, there was an appetite for what we were doing. And then it wasn’t until we got started that I really started to become both more aware but more educated about some of the cultural stigmas and how to potentially overcome them. So we have so the cultural apprehension is around typically there are many things one one is that the luck of the former were could be passed on to the new receiver and it could could be bad luck so that’s that’s one cultural apprehension that there’s this luck that you don’t want to have. You don’t want to not know what the what the luck is. So it would only items would only pass down basically from Brother brother or cousins for that Reason. And so many, many things get get thrown away in the in the market. And then the other is that you’re sort of perceived in terms of social stature that you can afford new. And so that’s, that’s another big cultural apprehension, I suppose is just to that, that sense of pride of social stature. And so what we endeavoured to do and continue to do is and from the beginning, really, is that we tried to change mindsets around anything that would attribute shame to second hand and switch that to a sense of pride. So that’s been the emotion emotional switch that we’ve been trying to drive at is that you should brag about the fact that you’re shopping secondhand for these reasons. And there shouldn’t be any shame or stigma associated with it for these reasons. And so we’ve really tried to educate the market about the responsibility, the impact and some of the fashion stats, I think that a lot of people don’t think about it in their day to day lives. So we’ve we’ve tried to make for a more conscientious consumer and and community and then spread that by way of our existing community. So we really think of anyone who has participated with us as a mini advocate. And they ended up changing the minds of the next layer of consumers. And we we worked with people in Hong Kong that were of affluence and influence that didn’t need to shop secondhand in terms of a price point, but were rather choosing it as a lifestyle and as an advocacy for the environment. And those people then can also change minds. And yeah, everyone has the power to change someone else’s mind about about their consumption habits. So it’s been little by little, but I really think it’s through that advocacy of our community that we’ve been able to, to grow and spread secondhand in a way that just did not exist in in the market before. So you’re very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve in a market that wasn’t necessarily open or fertile to the to the idea in the in the early days,
Chris Edwards (12:10)
Huh? Yeah, you should be very proud. And it’s really wonderful to say that, I suppose it’s like a grassroots ripple effect strategy, and word of mouth like that advocacy? It’s a very hard strategy. But once you kind of can get it working, then it does snowball, I presume. And it Have you seen that? Have you seen it’s been easier every year?
Sarah Garner (12:35)
Yeah, it’s a it is a network effect. I mean, it does. Mums are particularly powerful in that if you know, when you become a mom, you create your toolkit, but you create what what makes your life easier what what really serves you as a mom, and we we, we try to be of service to, particularly moms, also dads, but predominantly moms and create create value for them in terms of Yeah, habit formation, and something that really serves them as something convenient and effective in their lives. And then that becomes something shareable for them. And I mean, I come from the luxury side, I think no matter which industry you’ve catered to a luxury customer, you understand the power of customer service, and how much that can affect your experience retention and advocacy. And so we also we really use customer service, and our whole experience with recycle as our marketing megaphone, because we believe that if you Yeah, if you have that excellent touchpoint and, and service with us, then you will, you will spread the good word as well. So we really we really think yeah, serving serving the customer well, is is the best, best marketing strategy.
Chris Edwards (13:49)
Yeah, I think that’s super smart. Now, I presume I’d have a lot of people listening to this podcast who are in one market, possibly Singapore or Hong Kong, and would love to expand to a second market? What would you say to them? What’s your experience been launching into Singapore?
Sarah Garner (14:07)
Yeah, we had Singapore on our radar, we probably would have opened a year earlier or a few at least a few months earlier. But the pandemic hit just as we were exploring, expanding. And I always wanted to bring our title to many more markets because it’s a global problem and and we feel that we have a solution that can serve many people across the world. And we want to be present in the markets that we want to serve because we want to localise the the platform so that we’re not shipping across borders, we’re not incurring carbon through logistics, so we want to localise in the markets that we expand to. So Singapore for us was Yeah, big objective to to get over and and introduce the model to a new market and We fundraised with that intent to to open Singapore and then the pandemic made made things more tricky. But we decided to persevere and open in Singapore while not being able to get to Singapore. So we opened the market remotely and hired a team remotely, didn’t meet the team for I think nine months after opening, you know, went to the office for the first time and was like, Oh, this is where we are. This is where we are many months after having after having opened and operated in the market. So I think all in all, because we have an incredible team, it was much easier than I anticipated. We we planned well, thanks to the team, and tired a good team on the ground. And I think those are two key ingredients, just planning planning well, and hiring well. And making sure you’re ready from a capital perspective, because it it doesn’t necessarily double your cost load. But it adds a lot, I would say more in terms of the capital load as opposed to the mental load, I think if you hire a well, you can actually benefit from gains from just having another team and other another perspective, it’s, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re spread more thin, I think it’s just the preparation in terms of making sure that you’re ready to launch in another market and have that I would say extra pressure of running another, another market, you would know better than me with many, many more markets under your belts. But I am really happy that we did it, I’m happy that we’re diversified across two markets for now. And I’m looking at a third at the moment. And then another thing was that we saw grant funding. So we when we look to launch Singapore, we did apply for the bud Fund grant, which is a Hong Kong based grant through the government. And we did succeed in getting the grants. So that is something definitely every startup should look at, if expanding to new markets, that there often are specific grants that are there to support expansion. And no, I’m very, very happy that we did it. And I think it’s a big proof point for any entrepreneur that sometimes it’s very easy, depending on your business model. But if you need a physical presence, it can be more challenging, but I think it’s another you you keep every step of the journey as well known you open new challenges, new opportunities, but definitely more challenges. And I think it’s a good proof point, once once you’ve opened one new market or one international market, you create a blueprint, you create a plan, and you’re able to then replicate it to to other other markets and everything becomes easier from there.
Chris Edwards (17:36)
Yeah. Great. And tell me Was it hard to get the funding? Was it hard to get the grant?
Sarah Garner (17:41)
Yes, it’s worth it if you have the capacity. So in our case, we had somebody on the team that was that was running the process, but it’s arduous, like it’s they don’t make it easy, because they don’t obviously want people to take advantage. But it is many hours of work. So you have to be you have to be resource, ready to be able to go through the process. And then the other thing is with everything that you do, that’s a challenge. Once you’ve gone through it once it’s easier to know how to do it the second time with time saving. So a lot of it is just the learnings of of going through the process. So there’s also agencies and and people that you can hire that would handhold through the process. So that’s also an option is to have somebody external that helps with those grant applications, because they are arduous, but it is a lot of money on the table.
Chris Edwards (18:32)
Yeah, great. Okay, that’s really valuable. And we actually just had a funding conversation or masterclass yesterday at Launchpad. And it’s exactly what Jenny from fluid funds said was don’t leave money on the table. Exactly right. Like if you’ve got kind of access it. I’m really excited to see that you’re thinking of a third market, do you think it’s going to be easier again, to launch into a third market.
Sarah Garner (18:58)
So to be confirmed, but we just want to pitch competition that gives us an investor roadshow in the US. So we’d go on a two week roadshow through the US at the end of May. And the intent of that programme is to support high potential companies to launch in the US. So that is still something that we’re working towards not something that’s a definite at this point, but we’re exploring and have been exploring Australia and then also, also the US we’re looking at a few other smaller markets, but we have grand ambitions. As with all startups, we’ll see if we can make them materialise, but it’s a it’s a great opportunity ahead. And we do believe we have a solution that works well and and could cater to any but but particularly bigger markets.
Chris Edwards (19:48)
Wow. That’s incredibly exciting. Yeah. Congratulations. So that was the pitch festival that you did in Luxembourg. Is that right?
Sarah Garner (19:56)
Yes. Rather Brandon opportunity
Chris Edwards (19:58)
And how did you ended up in a pitch festival in Luxembourg,
Sarah Garner (20:02)
serendipity. So with the entrepreneurial journey, I do think you need to take opportunities as they come and also give opportunities as you’re able to. But this one was very random. We were in Switzerland for a family holiday, I met someone through friends over dinner, and he told me about this pitch competition in Luxembourg. And because we happen to be on the continent, I was like, maybe I could do that. So yeah, that’s how it happened. It was over a dinner that somebody mentioned the competition, and I sent some materials to see if we could get in at the last minute. And we did. And then two weeks later, I was in Luxembourg. Yeah, very, very random. But again, I think that’s part of the journey, too, is just you never know when the next thing is going to be around around the corner.
Chris Edwards (20:53)
Yeah. And opportunities everywhere. You’ve just got to be open to it. So oh, that’s a fantastic story. I love that.
Chris Edwards (21:02)
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Chris Edwards (21:25)
Now, you recently launched a new programme called Buy now sell later. And I understand it’s sort of an integrated loop of selling clothing. Can you talk us through that?
Sarah Garner (21:37)
So yeah, my background is on the brand side. So working with the biggest brands in in fashion. And once I started secondhand it I mean, what we were early, so we were secondhand with a whole new category resale all these like the all these words didn’t really exist even when we started. And since we’ve started trying to think of okay, well, there’s lots of people out there who have never tried secondhand. So this is this is something foreign or something that they they don’t have an appetite for currently. And then on the brand side, this is a very emergent opportunity. It’s a new revenue stream. It’s very fast growing sector, basically the the secondhand fashion, space. And we’ve tried, I’ve tried to think of how you connect these, like how do you connect to the firsthand world and the secondhand world. And so what we’ve created is buy now sell later for recycle. So it means that when you buy something from us, it goes into your virtual closet. And then when you’re ready to sell it again, you basically just select the items from your virtual closet, and then they pass to us again. And the beauty of that and we’re so excited is that we know that many of our customers also sell with us and vice versa. So we have this this virtuous cycle. But in the past, before we built this, when something came back to us that had been bought from us, we didn’t know like we didn’t know it came from us. We didn’t know what was making it second journey through second hand. And so we were treating it as though it was a brand new listing like we had never seen it before. And so now with this virtual closet, we have this trail basically we’re able to see in the data, okay, on plan. On average, it recirculate with us five times, that’s a very good brand. Like that’s a very high quality brand. If it can recirculate with us five times, because we have a data trail now where we can see that particular dress was re homed five times, it also saves us on processing time because we’re not relisting, the same thing that we’ve already had. And yeah, just creates creates more of a virtuous loop and a more efficient loop. And then a better experience for the customer and seller that they have this like awesome digital closet of everything that they own. And that’s very simple. Like if your child is four, and you want to sort your closet for two and three year old, you just store it based on two and three, and then you indicate all the things they’re outgrown and and send them on to us. So that’s the first step, which we’re really excited about and has been live for a couple of months and is being really well used by our community. And then the second part is this integration with brands. So we’re looking at integrating this whole platform with brands so that when you’re shopping firsthand, you’re also conscious of the fact that you’re saving that purchase to sell later. So we’re putting second hand on the minds of firsthand consumers, that they have a conscience around what they’re going to do with it after it’s outgrown. So that’s always been my goal is just how do you link the whole retail environment together so that there’s a consciousness in a circularity around that. And then beyond that, we’re still only addressing things that are fit for resale. We do donate items that don’t meet our quality assurances that are still fit for use but just not fit for resale. But we want to also address things that are not fit for us. So not fit for donation not fit for resale. And we want to complete the loop and are interested in garment garment recycling and that full full loop and full circularity. So that’s later down the road. But the innovation today that we’re creating is really around this digital IDs and just creating, creating more of a virtuous loop that people feel that they can’t pass up like, it’s too it’s too easy, it’s easier than anything else. And they will participate.
Chris Edwards (25:28)
What a fantastic addition to what you’re doing in terms of what a great innovation, I just think of it as a parent just to even have a reference of all the items that I can easily, you know, see, because, like that’s the other thing, just keeping track of it all. But that’s really, really fantastic. And how did you come up with the idea? How did that? Was that like a moment in the shower? You just kind of went? You know what? We can take this one more level up?
Sarah Garner (25:57)
Yeah, I think everything has been iterative. Like I don’t think there’s ever like moments where we everything or one one idea comes and a lightning bolt, I think we stay really close to the customer. So we listen all the time to what our customer is sharing with us, actually, well, I would say like the Genesis In the beginning was a pain point like customers or sellers. Rather, were telling us that I bought this item that retitle my child wore it twice. And I sent it back to retitle and you didn’t accept it for resale. And I believe as the seller that it was in the same condition that when I bought it, and fair, like that’s a fair pain point. Because when we assess a product, there’s a certain level of subjectivity, because it depends on the person that’s assessing. And likely in all of those cases, it did depreciate in terms of the condition, but because we couldn’t see that that product was bought with us. Now when we can see that it’s been bought with us, it has a much higher chance of acceptance, because we’re just able to say to ourselves, okay, we, we accepted this item based on the previous condition. So like how much more worn is it versus the last spin around. And so we heard that a few times that someone had bought from us and then tried to resell and we want to create that, like, we want to encourage people to keep selling. And I thought, well, that’s counter to what we’re trying to achieve. There’s a lot that’s being done with Blockchain with QR codes with RFID, that, eventually, when you buy something, everything is going to carry a unique identifier. And it will have traceability in terms of the supply chain, but then it’s also going to be scannable, for something like a resale platform that will have all of the information about the item to then relist, that’s coming, but it’s probably going to be a while especially to have universal adoption. So in the meantime, we’re just building something that creates that loop without having to rely upon manufacturing or any type of technology that’s outside of verticals. So I would say that’s, that’s typically the genesis of our innovation is like there’s a pain point. And how can we try to resolve it with some sort of technology or automation that would make that an easier and more frictionless experience?
Chris Edwards (28:15)
And how wonderful that that’s coming from being close to the customer? That is the best way to learn what your customer wants?
Sarah Garner (28:23)
Yeah, the negative or critical comments are the ones that we try to source the most like, that’s, you don’t want to hear your I mean, it’s great to hear you’re great or that people like the concept, but actually, there’s always something that’s not not working well, and and those are the things that you want to tease out and try to solve. Yeah,
Chris Edwards (28:40)
yeah. So the negative feedbacks way more valuable than the positive feedback. Yeah, that’s very true. So just switching tracks a little bit. I know you really dislike the term mompreneur. I can’t even pronounce it. I don’t think I like it, either. But often, it’s used, I presume, more for you than most because your business serves moms. And you recently wrote about this on LinkedIn, which I really enjoyed. And you quoted that female founders only received I think it’s less than 2% of venture capital. But women lead tech startups generate 12% higher revenue than male run companies. So that’s an interesting stat. Isn’t that? What’s your view on that? Why do you think women are actually outperforming the men when it comes to to tech startups with revenue? Okay, it’s quite
Sarah Garner (29:35)
Yeah, quite a loaded question. I’ve been on the fundraising journey. And I think one of the biggest gaps or why this gap exists is that typically are interfacing with men. And what I’ve come to realise over the journey is that investors are people they are exactly the same as all of us. They have personal interests and they tend to To invest in things that perk their personal interests, and they can’t typically they can’t disassociate from that set of values or that set of set of interests when they’re looking at a business. And when the mass majority of investors are men, the mass majority of capital is going to be in businesses that resonate with them as a demographic. And so I think that’s just like, at the simplest level, why you see so much capital going to men, male led businesses, or male centric businesses that address more of a male consumer or male female consumer, as opposed to dominantly female led and female focused companies. So the crux of it is just getting more women on the on the other side and into partner roles at VC firms and getting more more women to be the decision makers. And then the other thing, just in terms of, and this was something that Nicole den holder, from neck chapter, shared with me a long time ago is that in fundraising, women tend to, it’s the same in conversations like this, like women just tend to self deprecate, like, they they have this sort of natural way of either discrediting themselves or being hedging or, and, and men, particularly in like a business context tend to, like, overstate and become overly optimistic and everything is grand, whereas women have been statistically shown in like a pitching environment to talk about risk, talk about managing risk and sort of downside of business. Whereas men only focus typically on on the upside and, and are very optimistic. And this tends to have a negative impact on on access to capital, because women aren’t sharing this, like grand, optimistic, overstated ambition or optimism. And so I think, as a result, because women know that they don’t have as much access to capital, they tend to run their businesses with more risk aversion. So with more, more downside protection, basically, and and I think ultimately, that ends up that women tend to run either more sustainable or more top line centric businesses, as opposed to men as a generalisation who think that there will always be more capital available to them. Women don’t progress with that same confidence, I suppose that that capital is is never ending.
Chris Edwards (32:31)
Hmm, yeah, it’s so interesting. Yeah, no, it definitely makes sense when you break it down. I mean, there’s obviously bias there. And I keep reading that women are more likely not to apply for jobs that they qualified for, whereas men are likely to apply for jobs that they’re not qualified for.
Sarah Garner (32:48)
Yeah. And I think a lot of it sorry, just one more point, just in case we’re moving on is that it is unconscious bias. Like I don’t think there are many investors that approach a conversation with two founders, a male and a female and think I’m only going to invest in a man because he’s a man, I really think it’s an unconscious bias. And I think it goes back to that, like, interest level, or camaraderie or familiarity. Like those are all very, like, natural biases that we
Chris Edwards (33:15)
that we have. Yeah. 100%. So tell me what advice do you have for early stage entrepreneurs in terms of fundraising? Like what do you think has been the secret of your success to getting funding,
Sarah Garner (33:27)
I tried to like everything, I just tried to learn a lot as much as I could. And maybe this also comes back to sort of wanting to be over prepared, as opposed to underprepared for something that I was venturing into. And I really learned, like I tried to learn about the process through both accelerators through Yeah, any type of materials that I could get my hands on that and also other founders, like learning from other other people’s experiences. And there’s a lot to learn fundraising is like running a second business. Like it’s not an easy process. It’s not intuitive. And so I would say learning it’s quite a prescriptive process so there are ways to learn exactly what’s expected and and to produce those materials because they’re fairly ubiquitous across investors and and then build a network before you need one. I mean, I think all entrepreneurs set out to build network but maybe not an investor network and, and I would say that’s a critical piece is is building network both with your like entrepreneurial community, but then also with investor community or prospective investors to start building those relationships or people who have those relationships. Then when you’re ready to fundraise you already have some some network and network is critical to fundraising. It’s cold outreaches and cold intros. There’s no such thing as a cold and cold connections are very difficult to make and investors typically like to have familiar already with the founder the company via a connection, or direct because as with anything, they’re placing a bet on someone and a company and they they feel much better about placing that that if they have context, so I would Yeah, I would say network is really critical and then don’t take capital if you don’t need it, like grow your business without capital without fundraising if if you don’t need to, because it’s, it is it’s a separate track of running your your business and and takes a lot of mindshare and time. So be my, my two things on that. Yeah, just Yes. Skill up the way you skill up for your business that skill up on fundraising before you venture into it.
Chris Edwards (35:44)
Yeah, that’s lovely advice are very valuable advice, I should say. Thank you. I could keep asking you questions all day, I really enjoyed following your journey and being a part of it. But I need to ask you a few rapid fire questions to round out today’s interview. I’d love to know, do you have any business advice or business mantras that you, you roll around in your head or you do by I don’t.
Sarah Garner (36:08)
So what we do know, I mean, one quote, like as a business, one quote that we really lean into is we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. And I think that’s quite a, that’s a very mission aligned statement that, that we love, because it keeps us focused that it’s, we want to do better, we’re doing better. Now, today a little bit better. But ultimately, what we want to do is change the world of our children for tomorrow. And with our small impact, we hope that we’re developing conscientious consumers of tomorrow, and that this will be natural for them. And they will very consciously think about their consumption, both with clothing and everything else in their in their lives. And then, every week, we have a team meeting. And I always put a quote at the top of the team meeting, and it’s typically something that is resonating with us at that particular moment. So I would say it’s more than that. Yeah, I do. I do Lean into quotes and, and mantras, but But it tends to evolve weekly in our case, in terms of what we what we love to Yeah,
Chris Edwards (37:22)
I love that. I love that ritual of having a quote each week, that’s great. Changes, the only constant in business, what do you think entrepreneurs? What do we have our Eyes Wide Shut to? Now? What do you think we all need to be a little more woke about?
Sarah Garner (37:38)
I still think it’s Earth. I think it’s climate change. Like just that. It’s today, like it’s urgent. And I was just reading something the other day that was talking about human extinction. And that that’s, that’s a possibility. If we’re not, if we’re not taking care of our planet, and a real possibility. So yeah, I think it’s, it’s really more urgent than most day to day, people are thinking about so every industry needs an overhaul. So no matter what sector you’re working in, or if you’re a parent, any, anything that you’re doing, you should try to evaluate how you can put planet at the centre of it.
Chris Edwards (38:16)
Yeah, I think that’s a very good point. And that answers my next question, which was, if there was another industry that you could disrupt, what would it be? And you’ve said all of them. Basically, everything does need a new approach really rapidly? I’m going to answer the question for you. I’ll just chat here, I’ll do the questions and the answers. Tell me what’s been one of your best business collaborations or partnerships that you’ve done.
Sarah Garner (38:45)
I think the one that I feel most proud of, because it was very early on, I think it was back in 2018, or 2019. We partnered with investir collective, which is a much bigger resell platform than US and international platform. And we partnered with them in Hong Kong near to when they launched and they did huge marketing campaigns around us as their kids were a partner. So that was, that was a good moment for us in terms of a business collaboration because they’re a company that I admire, and, and it’s always nice to collaborate with your sector mates and competitors as well.
Chris Edwards (39:23)
Hmm, yeah, it’s a real leg off. Isn’t that when someone bigger than us happy to, to work with you on a collaboration? Do you have a favourite business book or business podcasts that you listen to?
Sarah Garner (39:35)
I love how I built this. I love hearing founder stories. I listen to business of fashion and I have a whole roster of podcasts. I really love to listen to podcasts while while walking and any idle time. But I love how I build this. I really love hearing founder stories. I find them very inspiring. Yeah,
Chris Edwards (39:52)
yeah, awesome. Me too. Funny enough. Last question at honeycomb has and Launchpad we believe a rising tide floats all boats, you probably know a tonne of entrepreneurs that are creating good businesses. But if you could recommend one to come on this show, who would it be?
Sarah Garner (40:09)
I was just on chat with her earlier. So she pops to mind. But Nessim from happy space, who I believe is also a launchpad member. She, I feel like it’s an interesting thing. Like it’s a she’s, she’s worked for us at retail, she helped us with some organisation around the office. I truly think it’s life changing what she does, like I think having an organised space but not just organised but a system oriented space. Depends who you are, and how you how you operate in space. But I think all of us really benefit from a clear mind and it’s really quite incredible. How much impact that can have she just pops to mind there are many amazing entrepreneurs and and particularly those that are that are environmentally focused. I have a soft spot for but I was on chat with her earlier and I really think she she does a great service and underrated in terms of the impact.
Chris Edwards (41:05)
Awesome, awesome. Okay, in the same if you’re listening to this, hit me up, Sara. It’s been such a delight chatting to you. I’m totally inspired by your story. Thank you for sharing it today. And yeah, I look forward to seeing what’s next for rhetorical.
Sarah Garner (41:21)
Thank you. It’s great to chat. Thanks for having me.
Chris Edwards (41:24)
Three things I learned from this episode today. Firstly, don’t fundraise unless you really need to. I think it’s very interesting that fundraising is quite glorified. And I love her frankly, Sarah kind of says, I wish I had a business that didn’t require funding. It’s a very interesting point of view, to stay really close to your customer. I love the way she used customer feedback as a way to inspire her and innovate. And then three, which is kind of related to to is from problems and pain points can come really good ideas. And I love the way she’s innovated her business, to use tech to help, I suppose reward customers that are already using her platform, but also encouraging them to continue to come back and reuse her platform over and over. So I thought that was a really cool innovation that retitle has come up with. I just love this chat. Sara so inspiring. I love what she’s doing. And I think she is just one of the entrepreneurs to watch teenager. So thank you, Sarah. And yeah, I hope you are all inspired by this chat as much as I was. Thank you for listening to good business. Okay, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Selfishly, I created this podcast for my own personal growth. So I could go deep with entrepreneurs that truly inspire me. Of course, I also wanted a wider listenership to think about having impact, and our wonderful community at Launchpad, where we’re all aspiring to create better businesses together. If you have enjoyed this episode, I’d love you to leave a review, or perhaps share this podcast episode with a friend. That’s how podcast episodes get discovered. And I would love more entrepreneurs to think more deeply about their business and about creating a Heartland business with a bigger impact than just profit. And I’m sure you would too. So go ahead and post something on LinkedIn or Instagram or Facebook and spread the word I will be forever grateful. Thanks again for listening and I hope that you feel as inspired as I am to create your own good business.