Tell us who you are and what you do?
My name is Shana Chu, and I am the CEO and founder of Tailr, previously known as STYL.wrap.
Tailr is a data driven technology platform solving costly fit and sizing issues across the complete supply chain for clothing brands - from initial design and the disconnect between the brands and the factory to providing instant fit recommendations to online shoppers.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I spent many years working in the clothing industry and at times it was hugely frustrating, especially when trying to overcome the disconnect with factories and the misinterpretation of measurement charts. For many companies, receiving a production batch in the wrong size can be devastating and can have real repercussions on costs and waste.
Now I get to see the complete opposite, frustration free production coming in sized correctly, with reduced waste along the supply chain. Seeing the positive change I am making to the industry firsthand brings me so much joy every day – especially on the tough days, which you can often experience when running a start-up!
What are the challenging aspects?
At the start of the journey, it was product market fit – trying to build the right product. We went through two iterations of what I thought would solve the clothing industry’s problems but the market wasn’t convinced. To me fit and sizing issues was such a frustrating problem which I had to solve one way or another, however it has been a huge challenge getting to this point. I am now delighted to say that we have a market ready product with amazing feedback and demand.. The challenge now for Tailr is funding.
·What 3 things do you think you need to progress as a woman in business?
The most important things you need to progress whether in your own business or working for others, I feel, are:
- Belief in what you are doing or the problem you are solving.
- Having confidence to put yourself out there without worrying what people will think.
- The resilience to keep going especially on the hard days!
You may not have all of these things starting out, but they are definitely learned and practised each and every day in the world of start-ups.
Talk us through your journey to winning Overall New Start Winner at the Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition 2021.
Perseverance was my best friend – InterTradeIreland’s Seedcorn competition is an amazing journey but it’ s not an easy win. I faced challenges at each stage, but the timing was perfect for me and my brand - I had product market fit, I was building a new MVP (minimum viable product) and I was starting to look at raising a seed round.. Each step gave me a chance to move out of the day-to-day business and think big for the coming months, years and even the goals I wanted to achieve for the business. Getting feedback along the way really helped hone in on this and ensured I was on the right path. Winning the ‘Overall New-Start’ category meant so much to me, and really helped double down my self-belief and confidence in the business.
How has Seedcorn helped your business?
The prize money has definitely helped me take my business to the next level but Seedcorn is much more than the money. The feedback and engagement I received from InterTradeIreland was second to none. At each stage of the competition there was always something to be learned, something I could tweak/improve or something to revisit. All of the judges’ comments were so open and honest and receiving this feedback from voices in different industries and experiences was extremely useful.
In particular, the firsthand feedback I received on ‘pitching’ was pivotal to me. I was able to get crucial advice on how my pitch was interpreted and things I needed to improve on or be more clear about. It prepared me to pitch to investors and I felt so much more confident and fine-tuned to what I needed to say and get across to ensure maximum impact.
For any early stage businesses across the island, I’d highly recommend the Seedcorn process and encourage you to enter the competition which is launching later this month.
What’s your advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Fight your fear every single day, believe in yourself and help others along the way. Always look at how far you have come and don’t be afraid to say you need help and seek out that support.
Most importantly, learn to cut through the noise – everyone will want to give you advice as a start-up but listen out for the rare nuggets and don’t forget to slow down every so often, smell the flowers and enjoy the journey!