Daniela Milosheshka of Bastet Noir tells us about the future of fashion.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Daniela Milosheshka: Thankfully, we’re doing okay considering the situation, a little bit sad about not being able to travel, but thankful that we’re among the lucky ones who still have and can still do our jobs. I know there were a lot of layoffs, so just to be able to still have a business in these challenging times is something we don’t take for granted and are grateful for every day.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Bastet Noir.
Daniela Milosheshka: I founded the company in 2013. Back then, it began as a marketplace for local designers, which quickly expanded to cover international designers from all over the world, but 4 years into it, the business pivoted to a standalone fashion label. The shift was driven by my desire to make an actual change in the society I lived in. At that time, I worked with a woman who ran the studio, and the seamstress I was working with became a single parent. As someone who was working hard to provide for her child, I was not only impressed by her strength but I was also inspired by her tenacity and an iron will to provide her child with better circumstances than she was born in. Quickly after that, I decided to make the Bastet Noir label a socially responsible brand. As the business grew, so did our community of women single parents. Today we’re proud to say that we work with 5 women-owned studios that are either operated by women single parents, or women micro-entrepreneurs.
How does Bastet Noir innovate?
Daniela Milosheshka: If you think about it, our whole model of made-to-measure and made-to-order production is pretty innovative. Although as a concept is not entirely new, in current times where the entire fashion industry is based on a totally irrelevant sizing system and bulk production, Bastet Noir’s business model of personalized fashion, in my opinion, is disruptive and, dare I say the future of fashion. However, technology-wise, we do try to keep up with industry trends. Just last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve introduced a virtual try-on feature on our website to make sure we give our customers the option to see what the items will look like on them or someone with a similar body type to theirs. In addition to that, we’ve also adopted an initiative about reducing the carbon emissions released by the shipment of our products. This year, we’re also preparing our team for Livestream shopping.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Daniela Milosheshka: Thankfully, since our entire business model is made to order, we haven’t been that much affected by the pandemic. The way our production model has been set up has allowed us to be pretty flexible during these uncertain and challenging times. Sales have been a bit slower than usual since we mostly sell occasion wear, but other than that, I would say we’ve been coping just fine.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Daniela Milosheshka: Of course, I would say every entrepreneur has to make difficult choices. The most difficult one I had to make was 3 years ago when I decided to change the entire business model of the brand. However, the lessons I learned from that were extremely valuable. One of the most important ones I would say was the fact that in order to have a successful business, the first thing you need to do before you start working on anything else is to craft the story about what the brand will represent. Without it, you don’t have a business; you have a hobby.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Daniela Milosheshka: Some days I do fine, others I don’t, but whenever I find myself stressed out, usually what I do is to take a step back, like an entire day off where I either do nothing related to the business or I sit down and compare what we have done the year prior and where we are now. It kind of gives me a fresh perspective on things, and usually, the next day, I find myself re-energized, ready to go back and do the work. Another thing that keeps me from totally losing it is doing yoga. It calms me and centers me.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Daniela Milosheshka: We have plenty of competitors, but I try not to think about them a lot. I mean, sure, we do follow their work because of research, and we want to be informed in general, but every brand is different. I find it extremely unproductive to compare your work with someone else’s, especially if that brand operates in a country with endless resources and you are from a country where the average monthly salary is less than 300EUR and access to funding is pretty much non-existent. We stay in the game by reading a lot and trying as much as we can to keep up with new technology and new trends.
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