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Breaking new ground with fashion tech

Breaking new ground with fashion tech

SETsquared Exeter member, Chantelle Znideric is an award-winning personal stylist. In this blog, Chantelle explains how being part of a community of entrepreneurs has helped to develop her business.

She is currently working on an exciting new project with support from the Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab. At first glance, fashion and tech might appear to be very different worlds, but Chantelle reveals how her style consultancy is breaking new ground.

“Loving fashion and enjoying shopping as a hobby, has always been a huge part of my life. I remember desperately wanting a pair of the latest Levi jeans at a really young age and my Dad just couldn’t understand why! Finally I convinced him it was a good idea and the rest is history. 

Before founding my style consultancy in 2007, I launched a successful fashion blog in 2003. The world of blogging was totally new and the platform was an exciting way to share industry news, clothing reviews and styling advice. It was a labour of love and took up every spare minute in the evenings and at weekends. I found a new passion in fashion journalism and I got a huge amount of satisfaction from helping women online with recommending suitable clothing, introducing new brands, share ideas on capsule wardrobes as well as creating chic yet practical work, holiday and special occasion looks.

I set up my style consultancy to help women and men discover a unique brand identity through determining their body shape and proportions, natural colouring, style preferences and lifestyle, ultimately instilling confidence to help achieve their professional and personal goals.

I consider myself incredibly lucky to continue to absolutely love my job whilst having the privilege of working with so many amazing individuals. I still get a huge amount of satisfaction helping my clients achieve their goals, often by increasing their confidence and building trusted relationships.

Since relocating to Devon, almost two years ago, I have renewed energy, a lively positivity and fresh outlook on my role as a personal stylist. More than ever I am conscious about our precious environment and I have been in the process of adopting a greener mindset personally and with my clients. The notion of less is more, quality over quantity and style not fashion has enabled me and my clients to make better buying decisions, ultimately saving them money and minimising unnecessary waste.

I am currently working on a new fashion tech project which will allow me to pivot the business to accommodate the ‘new normal’ way of life. This initial project with the Impact Lab is going really well and it is very exciting, as it’s incorporating computer vision and machine learning – two subjects I know nothing about. As I am not a techie, I am 100% leaning on their expertise, which is a little daunting, but the team is doing a great job of holding my hand! With combining my personal styling knowledge and their expertise, the project is moving ahead steadily, and they are helping me to navigate through it, stress-free. Their knowledge and capabilities are invaluable, and I strongly believe I would not have been in this position without being a SETsquared Exeter member, so I feel very lucky indeed.

The SETsquared Exeter Foundations Programme has been a fantastic resource in terms of having access to expert knowledge, training and mentoring. Being part of an entrepreneur community, partaking in networking opportunities, having a structured programme to follow and gaining referrals to partners has been instrumental to the initial start-up phase to my business. Having regular calls with my Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR), Samantha Mickleburgh, is all part of the programme too. She totally understands my business idea and objectives, continues to be a wonderful mentor and has also challenged my thinking, which I am grateful for.

As I am still in the early stages of developing my business, being a member has been invaluable, as I wouldn’t have known where to start and there’s been lots of information to absorb. Meeting like-minded entrepreneurs, learning about their companies and individual journeys, hearing about their challenges as well as successes has also been insightful. They are all inspirational individuals, doing brilliant things!

Attending the group workshops before lockdown kept me on-track and during lockdown the online weekly calls continue to be well organised. I would have liked to have dialled in more frequently, however with home schooling and other commitments, my weekly itinerary was a bit tricky to navigate. I’m not going to beat myself up about it though, as I have realised this journey, for me, is going to be a marathon not a sprint and it will take as long as it takes. Even though I do like to push myself, I am also realistic with what is achievable, given my time limitations at the moment. When my girls return to school then I hope to be more productive – watch this space!

Finally, the next thing on my agenda is to explore grants and potential funding, and alongside this, I am working on a detailed business plan, which is ‘investor-friendly’ and easy to understand. It’s coming together nicely; however, I’ve arrived at the financial pages, which I will have to delve back into when I’m feeling ready to tackle them. Not an easy task but a necessary one to make the dream become a reality.”

Written by Chantelle Znideric.

For more information on Chantelle and her award-winning style consultancy visit: www.personal-stylist.co.uk or follow her on Instagram: @chantelleznideric 

 

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