Connections – Learn from the industry linchpins

Alicia Kenworthy – Connections – How to learn & solicit information from the industry linchpins.

So when you’re trying to figure out who to speak with I think there is that natural fear to be, you know, you’re naturally very scared of ” should I share this idea, am I giving away free information that somebody is going to take and run with because they’re better funded, because they know the industry better than I do?” And so when Amalia and I were deciding who to speak with obviously we wanted people who knew lingerie, so for the most part it was people in the lingerie business but we were, we were just very cognizant and we went in with the idea that anything we say is probably going to get back to our competitor.  So often times we would, you know, we would ask them to sing a MDA but we would self or auto sensor until we had a better feeling for the person, until we had a better feeling for our personal relationship and then till we know what that relationship was going to become down the line.

So it’s really a matter of going in on a very high level and just saying ‘I really admire what you’ve done in this industry, I really love to learn more about your experience. I’m thinking of doing something similar something into bras industry’, picking and choosing what value proposition that you can share and one of ours is around brand and the personality of our brand. So we’ve just had to remember that at the end of the day even if Victoria’s Secret tomorrow decided that they wanted to take some inspiration from what we do, they’re not going to be us and they’re not going to bring the same personality to the business and it’s exactly as you’re saying, it’s all about execution it’s not necessary about the idea but it’s what you bring to life and what you bring as an entrepreneur.

That said you know they are certain people we would avoid because we feel they are too close for comfort, they are too involve our competition and so we try locate people who were of the industry but not necessarily directly in it. So one of our best advisors worked for seven at a really prominent French lingerie company, all of her friends are director of designs and production managers at some of these well-known companies but she’s no longer working in lingerie herself so she has all the knowledge, she’s able to advise us, but she able to advise us in a very pure honest way and so sometimes that’s the best way to look. Look at who was in that industry for a long time and got out of it at some point in time. Maybe they were tired, maybe they have moved on and often those are your best champions because they are passionate about it but they got so jaded and they got too tired to do something themselves but they are often inspired by somebody young and somewhat naive who’s bright eye and bushy tail and they’re coming in to change the industry because they, you know, it gives them hope again and often times they will be your best champions even if they know its pass their time to do something so that’s what we’ve been doing.