INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Meet the Fashion Startup Founder Shaking Up the Way We Shop
We talked to Alex Assoune, Founder & CEO at Panaprium about sustainable fashion on a budget and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alex Assoune: We are doing well. Thank you for asking. 2020 has been the most challenging year of my life, not only because of the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis but also because it’s my first year as a full-time entrepreneur and the first time I am far away from my friends and family for so long.
But I try to make the most out of my time and enjoy what I have. I avoid worrying too much about what could have been. Many people have it worse than us, so I am happy that everyone I know is healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Panaprium.
Alex Assoune: I am a 34-year-old founder and CEO of a fashion startup called Panaprium. I am a graduate engineer, originally from France, and currently living in Berlin, Germany.
I have ten years of experience in engine development for the automotive industry, working as a software engineer. My goal was to have a positive impact on the environment, making powertrains safer and more economical.
I never thought much about where my clothes were coming from. But I was shocked when I started in late 2016 learning more about the people behind the labels in my closet.
So I founded Panaprium to promote innovative, ecological, and durable fashion products. I am on a mission to improve people’s welfare, ensure ethical working conditions for people in the supply chains, protect the environment, and revolutionize the fashion industry.
How does Panaprium innovate?
Alex Assoune: Panaprium is a fashion retail platform that connects eco-conscious consumers with sustainable apparel brands that reduce their impact on people, animals, and the planet.
Panaprium uses technologies and creativity-based innovation to motivate, inspire, and help others make conscious choices. The company enables potential customers to discover new eco-friendly fashion labels that they would have otherwise missed out completely.
We believe in using technology and innovation for good to make the world more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. Panaprium shapes a sustainable future by shaking up the way we shop for fashion items.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect Panaprium, and how are you coping?
Alex Assoune: The coronavirus pandemic has rather positively affected the business since the beginning of the year. Panaprium is based in Berlin but sells primarily online.
The company has shown record-breaking growth with an average monthly unique visitor count exceeding 500,000 combined across all social media channels and websites in less than six months.
The COVID-19 crisis hit the global fashion industry hard but also creates new opportunities for eco-friendly fashion. Consumers are demanding more sustainable and fairly produced clothing, as shown by recent studies.
Fashionistas are becoming more aware of their wardrobe’s impact on people, animals, and the planet. They are looking for more fashion brands that are ethical and sustainable.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Alex Assoune: I spent every day of the past year evolving the concept of Panaprium alongside a small team. Especially in the early stages of the company, we had to refocus Panaprium on different target markets. And we changed the business model several times.
During the COVID-19 crisis, it was challenging to ensure the happiness of our partners and customers, as well as keep the business afloat. Thinking it over, I would make sure to clearly understand consumers’ expectations before launching new products, particularly when resources are limited.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Alex Assoune: I like to keep a strict routine and schedule to avoid messing up my plan for the day. If anything comes up, I make sure to have enough wiggle room to deal with it as efficiently as possible.
I also always set aside some time for myself. I try to meditate in the morning, cook my meals in advance, listen to music during breaks, and exercise regularly.
Who are Panaprium’s competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Alex Assoune: Panarpium primarily competes with itself. Every day, we wake up and work to do better than we did the previous day. We focus on constantly improving instead of comparing ourselves with much bigger players.
In the long term, we make more sustainability efforts to thrive in the market after the coronavirus pandemic. We take massive action to focus on product development and customer experience. We don’t want to lose the trust of our suppliers and shoppers.
Your final thoughts?
Alex Assoune: The COVID-19 crisis has forced us to rethink the way we produce and consume clothes. One of the positives after the pandemic is the regained interest in conscious consumerism.
With a collective effort, people all over the world are now working towards making fashion more sustainable. I am happy and grateful to be able to contribute to the movement.
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