Meet Nataliya Makulova - fashion and sustainability aficionado, and founder of startup consulting agency Balanced Fashion.
You LOVE fashion! Tell our community about the impetus behind starting your own fashion e-commerce store and how it became a bridge between Russian and American markets.
- First of all, since I was 19 I had NO idea what I really was getting into, the fear or caution wasn't something I experienced then. I just did it, because I was so passionate about the idea of having my own online store, without too much planning or thinking. Intuitively the business was very agile, tested and fixed actions that didn't work for me anymore asked people for feedback and advice. Eventually, I've sold the business to my friends who continued its journey but started selling much cheaper brands sourced in Asia. Looking back, I've done a lot of things wrong due to lack of experience, but overall it was an amazing experience that let me launch my career as a fashion business consultant at such a young age.
Tell us about the work you did at Moda Operandi.
- It was a 4-month internship, and back then they hired people who are starting their careers, after graduation - so we were considered "high quality interns". Today they no longer hire interns who are non-students. I attended every merchandising and planning meeting, presented sales data and ideas for performance improvement across brands, categories, price points, etc. It was a real job, and often I had to stay till late to finish up my job or prepare for next day's meeting. But it was my dream job, I loved every day of it. After 4 months of hard work and dedication, a major heartbreak when they told me they can't offer me a full-time position due to the fact I needed Visa sponsorship and they don't sponsor for junior roles.
You are now the founder of Balanced Fashion. What does the company stand for, and what does "a day in the life" of running the company look like?
Balanced Fashion is a fashion tech and sustainability consulting agency, where I provide services to fashion tech start ups and brands on strategy, business development, market positioning, sustainability initiatives, etc. You can learn more about the services here: www.balancedfashion.com. Not many people realize that Fashion is the 2nd polluting industry in the world. The mission of Balanced Fashion is to create a more balanced, ethical and effective industry and eventually substitute its wasteful nature with smart and innovative business models that change the way the industry operates, whether it is reducing carbon footprint, recycling old clothing, or offering on-demand, made-to-measure manufacturing to avoid overproduction — adjusting business models would be crucial for fashion business to ascend to the next level for the sake of the industry transformation.
Another crucial part of Balanced Fashion is the community and the events. The events that I organize focus on just that: re-balancing fashion. And I strongly believe that using technology in a meaningful way will help us reach that balance. That is why I invite fashion tech startup and brands founders to speak about their visions of the future of our industry and educate my fellow entrepreneurs, professionals and the consumers about the endless opportunities out there.