SAN FRANCISCO, A NEW HUB FOR BEAUTY AND FASHION.
FAB FOUNDERS BUILDING NEW BRANDS AND DISRUPTIVE
The 8th FaB meeting gathered 80 founders, lucky enough to have secured their tickets in advance as the meetup was sold out 3 months ago in a few
On stage, iconic Venture Capitalists, accomplished entrepreneurs, and the new voices of the emerging founders in sustainable fashion, tech platforms, clean beauty and wellness.
We were welcomed on January 22nd by Cosmo (sustainable packaging
and materials), a the meeting was supported by Bank of the West, sharing
our values of diversity and inclusiveness. Here under the takeaways of an inspiring conversation. This post has been written with amazing founders attending and is curated by Odile Roujol and MS Roussat organizing the meeting.
List of founders: Elsa Jungman (Founder of Elsi Beauty), Carlos Olguin (Founder of LoginInk, organizer of next LatAm meeting in Mexico), Chloe Takashi (Founder of Cosmehunt, and chapter leader FaB Tokyo), Alessandra Zonari and Carolina Reis De Olivera co-founders OneSkinTech and Fab chapter leader Brazil).
FIRE SIDE CHAT: APRIL GARGIULO and TINA BOU-SABA
“My inspiration comes from the Napa Valley. I come from a family that
made wines.” April Gargiulo.
April Gargiulo is the Founder and CEO of Vintner’s Daughter, a luxury
skincare company committed to performance-driven quality-focused, non-
toxic skincare. She launched her first product, Active Botanical Serum in
February 2012 bucking industry standards by using whole organic plants
and methodical formulation methods versus low-quality fillers and
formulation short cuts. Vintner’s Daughter quickly became a benchmark for
quality and performance in the beauty world and is coveted by top beauty
connoisseurs and industry professionals around the world.
Before starting Vintner’s Daughter, April spent 8 years at the helm of her
family’s Napa Valley winery, Gargiulo Vineyards. There, she helped build
the winery’s reputation for terroir-driven, “first growth” Cabernet Sauvignon.
Before Napa, April spent 6 years in Manhattan where she worked for the
design leader Vitra. Through Vintner’s Daughter April commits 2% of every bottle sold to charities benefiting women and children worldwide. She is
married to fellow entrepreneur, Mitch Lowe (also her Chairman) and has
two young daughters.
When sharing about her journey, she talked about how she started her company with one hero product. She believes the most significant form of
sustainability is creating products that give you more for less. It’s not only about thinking of a recycle packaging but creating one product that can have multiple functions and replace the need for several products. You need to use the finest ingredients and honor them.
When talking about promoting her brand, she admits she started with no
dollar marketing and managed to sell her product through word of mouth. A
smart Go-to-Market strategy was to go through make-up artists who
recommended her products to celebrities who would talk about it.
Also, she didn’t expect Gwyneth Paltrow, Sofia Richie and many more
celebrities to be advocates for her serum, but these unsolicited
endorsements definitely helped the brand to become viral.
April concluded by admitting that building a team is always key to the
success of a company and was very transparent on the struggle it can be
to find people who really carry the mission. Her tip was to recruit a team of
missionaries and not mercenaries.
April was interviewed by Tina Bou-Saba. April has bootstrapped her company but shares that great investors such as Tina have always been a great support.
It’s all about finding the right talent around you.
Tina Bou-Saba — CXT Investments — an early-stage fund that stands at the
intersection of consumer and technology. Tina has invested in over 40
early-stage companies, with a focus on the beauty, health and wellness,
lifestyle, and consumer technology categories.
Through CXT, she supports exceptional, diverse founders who are
attacking high-potential opportunities in large but under-served markets,
disrupting legacy brands and business models, and building passionate
customer communities. Tina is a problem solver, creative and independent
thinker, and trusted partner to entrepreneurs, and has sharp instincts for
commercial opportunities. After starting her career in investment banking at
Morgan Stanley, she covered retail as an equity analyst at Sanford
Bernstein and Berman Capital and has broad knowledge of the industry
from mass to specialty to e-commerce. As a member of the strategy
team at Victoria’s Secret, Tina worked closely with VS leadership to
commercialize new business opportunities and led extensive quantitative
and qualitative customer research. She attended Phillips Exeter Academy,Harvard College, and Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar. Tina is especially passionate about supporting female
entrepreneurs and serving her community. She is on the boards of the Bay
Area Discovery Museum, Safe & Sound, and Human Rights Watch San
Francisco. Tina lives in San Francisco with her family.
FIRE SIDE CHAT: TRACY SUN AND STEPHANIE PALMERI
“We’re about social community and fashion. Trends 2020? We see our sellers with followers in our community about to launch their own brands.”
Tracy Sun is Co-founder and Senior Vice President of New Markets at
Poshmark, a shopping and resale marketplace app.
She spent the last 15 years between NYC and Silicon Valley at the intersection of fashion and technology. At Poshmark, Tracy has pioneered a social commerce platform that is shifting the fashion landscape, making shopping simple, fun and social, while also empowering entrepreneurs to build thriving retail businesses.
Prior to Poshmark, Tracy was Vice President of Merchandising at Brooklyn
Industries, a New York City-based fashion retailer. She received her BA
from Barnard College at Columbia University and her MBA from the Tuck
School of Business at Dartmouth.
Stephanie Palmeri is a partner at Uncork Capital, investing in
Marketplaces, SaaS, Consumer, and Hardware. Investments include
Poshmark, ClassDojo, Panorama Education, Merlin, Pared, Wonderschool,
Carrot, and Chariot (Ford). Prior to joining Uncork in 2011, Stephanie’s
decade in NYC spanned technology, marketing, and startups. She has an
MBA from Columbia and is an All Raise founding member.
Stephanie and Tracy connected right away. When Stephanie met Tracy’s
co-founder building Poshmark, “I understood immediately the idea…” as
the concept of the fashion platform resonated with her.
“Stephanie is a female investor, I’m a female founder…It’s really helpful.
We laughed about it” said Tracy Sun, who likes “surrounding herself with
people who understand the customers”.
Tracy’s story is inspiring. Poshmark became a success (now 50 Million users and customers!), with the bold idea to start a business mobile-only 9 years ago, when mobile social media apps where just becoming a trend. Tracy had to find a balance between projecting a lot of grit but also being humble about the unique timing of starting Poshmark, and even if many VCs thought she was crazy since too risky, her persistence allowed her to seize that growing momentum.
As a founder, “you need to believe in your idea, define who you are and
Tracy’s intent has always been to establish Poshmark as a social network
rather than an e-Commerce platform. She wants buyers and sellers to feel that they can connect through the Community by making friends and express their style, and emphasizes the culture of kindness, especially through their “love notes”. Instead of the typical reviews, Poshmark publishes the positive “love notes” on the users’ pages that they receive or write when they get a 5-stars rating. Tracy believes that building trust and confidence among the community will help some of the users to launch their own brands in 2020.
PANEL: BUILDING SUSTAINABLE BRANDS AND PLATFORMS
A panel moderated by Laya Adid, founder of Shoplook.io.
Shoplook helps everyday women discover and shop expertly designed
outfit ideas for any occasion, body type and budget.
Prior to founding ShopLook, Laya spent 9 years at Google working on
partner and product strategy for Google shopping and ads.
Alysson Santos frames the context about ’why we should care as the
fashion industry is one of the most polluting ones. As a Brazilian fashion
designer who has been lucky enough living close to the nature and ocean, and now Californian, he cares about environment and participates to meaningful conferences about sustainability, like the Amsterdam one.
“I think we can highlight both the industry problems but also the impact we have as consumers.
We can all make a difference. As a fashion designer (he created his own brand Alysson Santos), you are aware when you prepare your collection. Pollution is not just something you can blame on streetwear brands.”
Veronica Lee explains how similar thinking impacts the future of wellness.
“A lot of people take prescription drugs for sleep.”
Veronica is founder and CEO of Remrise, a modern sleep care brand that
blends the best of East and West worlds, offering rotational, personalized,
plant-based formulas combined with a dynamic suite of tools to improve
sleep over time, launched 2 months ago. Veronica founded Midas League,
a family office investment platform, after working in finance in investment
banking at Merrill, corporate M&A at McKesson, investing at CDIB
Capital. She also spent time at Goldman Sachs, Sherpa, and Maum
“The VC world has a more broadly approach of mission-driven innovation in
fashion, beauty, and wellness. Wellness was not an industry that VCs were
looking at before.”
“As I was reading more about the current state of fast-fashion, it became
clear that a big driver of the unethical decisions made during the
manufacturing process is margin driven. After all, fashion is a business,
and with any business, profitability/margins matter.”
Tricia is building Modern Brands, the world’s first open-source for fashion
platform.“We want you to be able to design a garment in 10 minutes, not 10 weeks…saving you time, money and effort getting to market. We are currently
launching our beta product and seeking pre-seed fundraising from idealistic
and mission driven investors who are interested in changing this very old
and very stubborn industry for the better.”
Adding to Tricia’s insights, Laya says she loves the approach of driving
efficiencies upfront and helping brands launch products at half the cost,
while enabling better choices in later parts of the process (manufacturing/
shipping/ distribution etc.).
Amber Blair. When Amber is asked about how the industry and her clients are approaching the desired state of reduced waste and consumption, she
“There is a motivation of this industry towards a more sustainable future. What role entrepreneurs in this space can play? Moving forward.
It’s not just about communicating some actions. It’s about educating the
consumers and enabling to have broader initiatives. Global brands take it
very seriously. “Amber is the Global Material Innovation Director at COSMO- a global leader in process engineering and manufacturing of soft-goods.
When introducing to Michele Zhu, Laya said “both you and your co-founder seem mission-driven and are working to implement meaningful
change in the dyeing process. You are a great example of how, as an entrepreneur, you can tackle an impactful problem while building a successful business from it.”
Michele co-founded Tinctorium, “a Bay Area-based startup using indigo
biotechnology to make more sustainable jeans. “We’re eliminating toxic
chemicals from the denim dyeing process — that means better jeans that
make you look and feel good.”
She quotes Conscious Closet (from Elizabeth L. Cline) as a must-read
and mentions that sustainability should be a more holistic approach in
“Nowadays, we see a lot of brands working so hard to become ethical and
sustainable companies, but the sustainability isn’t just buying products from
sustainable brands. It’s more about how you consume resources, how
conscious you are and how you design your lifestyle.”
“There is a desire of consumers to buy sustainable products. We use that
momentum to convince investors.” Michele added.
“With a background in operations and strategy and a family business in
denim and apparel wholesale, I run Tinctorium core business and support
my co-founder and CSO Dr. Tammy Hsu to commercialize the
biotechnology solution, which was originally developed as part of a PhD thesis work at UC Berkeley. We have raised our first round to fully
fund our fabric sample development over 2020. We have tested things…
then we have to scale” (source say $ 1.5 Million). It takes courage to bring real innovation and scientific discovery to market.”
“If we don’t invest in R&D, we cannot move forward and investors will have
to take that risk. Our society understands how much the fashion industry is polluting, and the technology that Tinctorium has developed and that they want to scale will be key to decrease carbon footprint from denim. They are for denim what Impossible Food has been for the food industry.”
THANK YOU TO OUR GUEST SPEAKERS, COSMO HOST, AND BANK OF THE WEST team (Thomas, Paloma, thanks for the support!). And kudos to our FaB chapter leaders, connected to their local ecosystem and creating bridges between different ecosystems in America, Europe, and Asia.
Great photos Jasmine Junga, Tech and Coffee Media, San Francisco.
NEXT FAB MEETING in San Francisco will be hosted by PINTEREST on
June 16th at their beautiful office. So exciting! The link for EVENTBRITE tickets will be available in the few days to come.
And Mialy (Ravelo) Founding Member, will be back in San Francisco 🙌 to welcome you.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter to have more information about next meetings in the 15 local chapters 👉https://www.beautytechcommunity.com/
Odile and FaB team in San Francisco.