Marketplace forThe Fashion Industry how do you take a market, the fashion industry, which is embedded in its old made ways even to the point of still wiring money through things like Western Union and take it into the electronic age? We spoke with Cassie Betts, the creator of LA's District2 (www.district2.co), to learn District2 is wanting to both develop a market, and a neighborhood, around independent fashion designers, helping them to discover resources, suppliers, factories, and contractors help them bring their designs to life, and help the whole industry move into the contemporary age.
Cassie Betts: We are a fashion-tech, B2B market in the apparel space. We assist garments designers connect with factories. Designers go on to our platform, publish a production job, and specialists and factories quote on those projects. Based on scores, evaluations, and cost, designers have the ability to work with a factory or contractor from our platform. District2 solves 3 significant pain points in the market. Number one is assembly line capability is a huge problem in the style garment market. There's a lack of info on materials, design, types of products, minimum order size, and other information on various manufacturers, makings it tough for designers to find who can make their garment. That detail either is supplied piecemeal, or totally unavailable. We aggregate high quality, vetted info on contractors, and they can also supply information points through our platform, in order to help smooth things out. The other is quality assurance and quality in general. It's particularly hard when manufacturers are remote. Our users can use scores and reviews, to know if they are dealing with high quality manufacturers. The 3rd issue we resolve is prices and payment. Today, it takes too much time. Plus, everyone hates the system. Now, when you are brand-new to the industry, you actually have to send money to those specialists utilizing Western Union. You feel like you're a drug dealership when you're sending thousands of dollars down at the Western Union office! We let designers get a variety of quotes, and will hold payments through escrow. We're also building a safe payment system, adapted for the fashion business, which will take into account development payments, milestone payments, shipping, customized, and things like that. Our platform likewise supplies job tracking and consumer relationship management. That's the essence of exactly what it is. It's all about the fashion industry. I've been in this online game a long time, and I think we can assist the market come into this century.
Exactly what is your background?
Cassie Betts: I have actually remained in the fashion business for, actually, forever. In kindergarten, when I was at Career Day, I stated this is who I am going to be. I went into expertly in 1998, when I had my first genuine task, and I have actually been here now for a long period of time. Prior to that, returning to when I was a kid, I was also a very geek. I liked robots, calculus, and computer systems, and I even learned how to code at age 9. Nevertheless, I knew I had a huge love for style and funny enough the reason I learned how to code, was there was a computer game that I truly wanted that my good friends had, however making it do what I desired, to I had to code it myself. The only reason I found out how to code, was to learn the best ways to change Vanna White's dress on that computer game. I wish to state I was all for the women code movement, however it was almost changing Vanna White's dress! The huge part of why I code now, is I want to assist provide utility and assist my market. I think about them as my buddies. We are makers, designers, pattern makers, they are my people. I laugh and say it's like Moses these are my individuals, and I am in it to help in any way I can.
Style is my thing, and tech is the world we live in, and as an industry, we are behind. The clothing production industry is in fact growing tremendously, internationally, however the nine-to-five tasks are not in the U.S. Those are the individuals who had actually been working for style brands that had actually closed down, or have simply began their own thing, and require these resources.The fashion business seems to have as many business owners as the innovation industry, why is that?Cassie Betts: Every style students wants to have their own line. No one goes into this market stating they want to work for the male all their life. Everyone goes into it thinking they will have their own thing.
What's the hardest thing for those independent designers to determine?
Cassie Betts: It's finding a factory that will respect you as an independent designer. We in fact have partnered with a group here in LA, Manufacture LA, and the LA style incubator. More money is really generated from the smaller companies than the huge kids, but I believe it's just difficult for independent designers to navigate that, because the industry is not used to it.Offered the lack of use of innovation today in the fashion business, how has the response been to your marketplace?
Cassie Betts: On the designer side, they are delighted. We have about a thousand designers who are visiting us on a monthly basis, and about 35 percent of them are returning really regularly, and this is prior to we've done any marketing. We've been resolving bugs, and attempting to make those thousand customers actually delighted. They've been extremely receptive and delighted with things, and they've been providing us a great deal of feedback. We've pivoted how we've done lots of things based upon the feedback. We didn't at first have scores and evaluations, and they really asked for that. On the factory side, U.S. factories have the tendency to be a stodgy industry. When we got begun, we in fact had to populate all the info about those factories in our self they just weren't going to do it themselves. We really had a group of youth which is a whole other story who we worked with through a social community job. There was a grant to hire youth to do this, so we had them put all the manufacturers on our platform. At first, manufacturers were very skeptical, but since them, they have actually sent lots of emails thanking us, because of the business they have actually gotten from the website. I think, as the word spreads, things will grow. The important things about the fashion business, is its a little, tight knit community, and once something hits, it hits like wildfire.
What's next for you?
Cassie Betts: Now that we've done the R&D, and done hundreds of user’s tests, it's all about perfecting it and enjoying our conversion rate constant. You'll see us dealing with marketing and PR as soon as we have an actually stable conversion rate. Around that time, we'll be searching for financing. We have not actually been doing that since late, though we might begin searching in the summer. I've seen that either you are fundraising or constructing items, or it's really difficult to do both. Now we've stopped fundraising to focus on the product, the individuals, the neighborhood, and the platform. I think as long we do what we are expected to, the financiers will come.