Fashion Entrepreneur & Marketer
February 5, 2019, 6 min read
Interview by Sarah Wagner
This week Sarah met Kamile Kaselyte, co-founder of start-up KIKOINNE, an online styling platform that aims to make personal styling affordable. Find out what keeps Kamile up at night as an entrepreneur starting her business, why positivity is important when leading a team, and how personal style leads to empowerment.
Good morning, Kamile. I recently met you at an event for women in entrepreneurship. I liked the positive vibes you radiated. How do you maintain such a positive spirit while leading the stressful life of an entrepreneur? Any strategies or habits to share with our readers?
Being a startup co-founder isn’t just about building a successful product or service. It’s about being able to inspire everybody around you. Positivity can really become your default setting if you practice it. I try to wake up early and spend some time to plan the day. I apply the same principle when the day is over and I take some time to reflect on what has happened throughout the day, to appreciate the good things and to let go of things that didn’t go as well as planned.
"Positivity can really become your default setting if you practice it."
What drew you into entrepreneurship after having studied fashion business?
Entrepreneurship is a way of living. For me it’s about constantly looking for opportunities, going for things that only a few dare to explore. I like that excitement, the ownership of your destiny you get with entrepreneurship. It’s perhaps what drove me to eventually start my own company.
Tell us a bit more about your start-up. What made you come up with the idea?
My startup is called KIKOINNE. We named it after Michel Kikoine who is a Litvak-French painter. To us, personal style is also a form of art. It’s an art of presenting yourself. That’s why we founded this online styling platform – to empower people through personal style. Our platform sends people outfit suggestions on what to wear that can be instantly bought on various online retailers. We have a team of experienced personal stylists and we help people dress up for special occasions, improve personal style or update their wardrobes. KIKOINNE is all about making personal styling accessible to everyone. For quite a while, personal styling was perceived as a service that mostly celebrities use. We aim to change that perception. That’s why our service has a price tag, equal to three cups of coffee.
"To us, personal style is also a form of art. It’s an art of presenting yourself."
How did the implementation process from the original idea to the launch of the start-up look like? Please share some ups and downs with us.
It definitely takes time to get things off the ground. The first phase was about coming up with an idea, validating it, crafting product and marketing strategies. After that, we did the pilot version of the platform and tested it with beta users. Once that was completed, we made some updates and launched KIKOINNE in Sweden and the United Kingdom roughly half a year ago.
The difficult side of launching a start-up is that it takes time. I have already been working on the project for two years. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and things, such as signing up for a payment provider or opening a business bank account can become long and complicated processes. On the bright side, each day is different and you are rewarded if you are patient, but persistent. On the bright side, each day is different and you are rewarded if you are patient, but persistent.
How do you survive in the competitive market you are operating in?
In my opinion, speed, affordable price tag, personalization and time we save for our customers is something that puts us above our competitors. Aside from being really flexible and offering a wide range of online styling services, we managed to make the discovery of personal style truly affordable and instant. The best part is that we’re not just coming with something we consider a problem - the challenge of creating or discovering personal style at an affordable price is global.
How difficult or easy was it to find investors? How did you go about?
These days the market is saturated: there are lot of venture capitalists and a lot of start-ups. You can find people willing to invest. As they can find people with interesting and promising projects. However, the most important thing is that you find a good match. I think that we were lucky enough to find an investor that is very passionate and very involved in our project. It’s also important to mention that investors aren’t just investing in the product, they are investing in people. Our team was very passionate and dedicated from the beginning - that’s why I think we got funded. Hardworking and dedicated people are always a good investment.
Would you say you ‘reinvented’ yourself or changed your life direction significantly by deciding to launch a start-up?
Everyone is constantly reinventing themselves – whether it’s a new business venture, relationship or commitment to something adventurous and challenging. With a new project in my life, there are many things you need to adjust. Your finances, your time management, your expectations, your attitude. I wouldn’t say that I changed my life direction, as it was something that I wanted, but I needed to change some things to better reflect my goals and the environment I am now in.
If you could do anything differently, what would it be?
When I was leaving London, I was offered an opportunity to work for a small, sustainable concept store. Seeing it become a really big, worldwide success story makes me think how amazing it would have been a part of it. Nevertheless, I am really happy working on my own success story and I can’t say I would take the job if I could. It’s more about thinking how my life would have been different if I had said yes.
What is a difficult situation you have recently been in and how did you solve it? What are some of the problems that keep you up at night?
It’s hard to believe, but getting a payment provider was an ongoing struggle for almost half a year. It was a very long and difficult process, which involved a lot administrative and legal work, even coding at times. We were choosing amongst different payment providers as we are operating in a few markets, so we needed to make sure that the payment provider we go for is used in all of the markets we run our service. I remember opening my e-mail thread with one of the providers’ customer support and realizing 100 e-mails were exchanged in roughly three weeks time. The key to overcoming this tiring process was being patient, but persistent.
What is an aspect of peoples management you enjoy and what element are you struggling with?
In start-ups, the hierarchy is quite flat. Therefore, the key is really to understand that most of the work is teamwork. In the beginning, it was difficult for me to understand that even though we work as a team, each of us can no longer multi-task. That’s how I became responsible for marketing and we have an amazing CEO – Ilona Guobyte – who is a fabulous woman and was my discovery of the year. It’s really wonderful to have a role model in your team, someone you can aspire to.
"My call to action is to stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, focus on your life, goals and start building your personal style."
Do you have a favorite book to recommend?
I became really spiritual these days. Any book by Osho is a must-read for those who want to find the inner peace and mindfulness.
Do you have any call to action for our readers?
My call to action is to stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, focus on your life, goals and start building your personal style whilst having a look at how we can help you at www.kikoinne.com.
Kamile Kaselyte is an entrepreneur & digital marketer. For most of her professional life, miss Kaselyte has served as a marketing and communications consultant to provides strategic consulting and communication services for companies through insightful branding and communication. Miss Kaselyte is a frequent speaker at international fashion weeks, entrepreneurship conferences and various workshops where she shares her digital marketing and business leadership mindset, empowering people with various digital marketing tools, strategies and techniques. She is also a contributor to various media outlets, such as Artic Startup or Thrive Global. Besides professional development, Kamile is a vice-curator of Global Shapers Vilnius Community, an initiative by World Economic Forum, with a mission to shape a more inclusive world.