How Was The Launch? It Was Like Giving Birth.
Words can’t even begin to explain how incredible – and beautifully challenging – this journey has been so far.
With the launch of my vegan silk loungewear and sleep essentials brand niLuu only just behind me, it’s quite amazing to look back at this experience that I never thought I could have undertaken.
It all started with a trip I took to Europe to visit a textile fair back in January 2019. I didn’t yet know it, but it was here that I met my current supplier for the first time and was truly surprised to learn about their innovative textiles. After several months of researching the market to gain a clearer understanding of what exactly was out there, and a long back and forth with this market-leading supplier, I couldn’t be more excited to start this adventure and take on this huge challenge, although I was terrified it might be beyond my capabilities!
I’m very comfortable in the creative industry and confident in my creative instincts and understanding of luxury products, but I lacked a business background. I had looked into personal business ventures in the past, however these hadn’t panned out, so naturally I felt somewhat out of my depth. However, what I lacked in business experience I gained in buckets through mentoring, which I was lucky enough to get from my husband. A business professional and partner at a Venture Capital firm, he made such a difference to my growth throughout this journey. It can be tricky to navigate the balance between a business and family relationship, but I was lucky that we were able to get through the tense moments.
By November of 2019, I had refined the core collection line-up and was ready to fly to Turkey, meet with my supplier again and finalize an agreement to get my business off the ground! Plus, what perfect timing! An opportunity opened up to participate in a week-long entrepreneurship at London Business School. The most intensive education I had ever experienced, I was thrown in the deep end with business case studies and 15-hour days filled with group meetings, lectures and case discussions, but it allowed me to develop my business plan and ideas.
I couldn’t have asked for a better experience when meeting my suppliers. My product ideas and our business proposal were perfectly aligned with this fantastic supplier’s plans and capabilities and I left very confident with the supply for my future business.
Next up was both the hard part and the fun part: product development and building our marketing story. While there were already difficulties with the time difference, me being based in Miami and my supplier in Turkey, on top of that a global pandemic of unimaginable proportions hit! I spent about a week or two contemplating, is this crazy?? Should I do this? The whole world was at a standstill and here I was about to launch a luxury brand in a pretty niche market completely unaware of when life would go back to “normal”. Nevertheless, I am not a quitter. I don’t like to give up and I don’t like to let people down. I had already made a commitment to my supplier and manufacturer in Turkey so I took my time to really think things through and decided I wasn’t going to stop there. Green light it was. I wasn’t able to travel back to Turkey and continue business face-to-face, but with a lot of hard work I was able to complete the product development and ensure the collection was all of the highest quality remotely.
Naturally, still in the midst of a pandemic, production was delayed and global logistics were completely turned upside down. We powered on, hoping it would all come together at the end!
And then, it does, and by the end of July – with help of a PR/influencer agency – the site is ready to go. Then on top of it all, our initial inventory gets stuck at customs and once released seems to disappear in an airport gateway just two weeks before our launch date! We try and try to get in touch, but we’re just met with silence. The amount of stress and anxiety that this piled on me was through the roof! We had no clue what happened to our shipment and when or IF we would ever receive it. Finally, after weeks of nail-biting waiting, it arrives with The Big Partners, our operations partner company, two weeks later than expected.
And finally, our launch! How was it? Just like giving birth. Literally! I created and gave life to my new baby for 9 months and definitely felt all of it’s growing pains from within my body. So when it was time to finally go live, it was like I physically had to push niLuu out of me and into the world. Now I just had to learn how to nurture it! My favorite quote sums it all up perfectly. As Reid Hoffman said, “an entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.” It often feels like an uphill battle and a race to bring the many elements together, but I couldn’t have asked for more.I’m beyond happy to have come this far. Sometimes it feels like a dream and I’m learning to step back, take a deep breath and be patient.