Our mentor, Poornima Vijayashanker, founder of Femgineer and entrepreneur, knows all about the start-up struggle so when we turned to her for advice and her mentorship, she knew exactly what we were going through. Thank you, Poornima, for believing in us and for all your support!
Here is a newsletter she wrote about Lotus:
"Almost 2 years ago Sarah Coronado, the founder of Lotus Premium Denim, reached out to me via email. She wanted to meet up and ask me for some guidance. So I agreed to meet up with her.
At the start of our first meeting, she handed me a pair of Lotus jeans to try on. I could already tell I’d like this woman...
The jeans fit like a glove, and I’d soon discover that they’d become my favorite pair!
During our meeting I sat back and listened to Sarah. She told me of how she was frustrated looking for clothes that would fit her small frame. As a petite woman I could empathize with her.
Then one day, a close friend of hers, took her shopping at a high end store. Sarah never thought to buy high end. But after trying on her first pair, she felt comfortable and confident.
She was hooked.
But Sarah didn’t just stop there. She figured other women might be experiencing the same problem, and began to do some market research. Sarah discovered that more than half the female population is under 5’ 6”, but most denim is made for taller women.
Not having a formal background in fashion or design, Sarah knew she’d need to team up with someone. She found a designer whom she proceeded to work with to design a better fitting denim for petite women.
Then she recruited co-founders to help with areas that she didn’t have expertise in like: branding, supply chain, and sales.
Together they produced their first line of denim and started to do sales.
Throughout our conversation I was thinking that Sarah had it together, she was super capable! I couldn’t even figure out why she’d need my help...
Then she proceeded to tell me more.
Sarah told me how Lotus was her side business, she had a full time job as a project manager at a big tech company, and 2 small children to care for. The previous year she had worked herself so hard that she caught pneumonia!
After two years of trying to get Lotus off the ground, she wanted to close shop and move on.
To me it seemed like Sarah didn’t need to throw in the towel just yet. What she really needed was gain some perspective by taking a break!
I told Sarah that any business or project takes time to get off the ground. The first few years are spent researching, learning, and experimenting. Hearing this from me made her realize that it was a natural process, and that she wasn’t an anomaly.
After our first meeting, I kept finding myself wearing my Lotus jeans a lot! I even told other women about them, and they felt the same way wearing them: comfortable and confident.
I can even do yoga in Lotus!
Sarah had created a great product.
But there were some issues with her business.
I did a deep dive into Lotus. I uncovered some problems, but nothing that would jeopardize the business permanently.
Over the next 9 months, I’d help Sarah and her team improve their process.
Last summer Sarah wanted to run a crowdfunding campaign, and I told her I’d help her prepare for it.
I thought we were making great progress. I put a transition plan in place as I was preparing to move to teach at Duke.
Right before my move Sarah hit a brick wall. She was tired and frustrated.
I knew she could do the campaign, but to make it a success she would need to be confident in herself.
My parting words to Sarah were to take a real break. Put the business on hold, and get some rest. The business and the opportunity would wait for her.
6 months went by.
Sarah took time off, went on vacation with her family, and transitioned to a new full time job. The time off had benefited her. She regained her confidence and realized that she loved Lotus, and wanted to run the crowdfunding campaign.
Last month Sarah and her co-founders successfully raised a Kickstarter campaign for Lotus raising $28,424 from 263 backers!
I’m super proud of Sarah and her team for making it happen."