Seattle Beauty and Fashion Startups - Start IT Seattle (Full List)

A special episode of Evening in collaboration with Start It Seattle featuring the Seattle entrepreneurs making style a science. Evening reporters Michael King and Kim Holcomb host from the co-working space, ATLAS Workbase .

A special episode of Evening with Start It Seattle from ATLAS Workspace all about style AND science, featuring Black Bear Brand, Teadora, Tousled App, Samsh�k, Fitcode, Armoire, Thrive Causemetics, and Package Guard's Mike Grabham. None

SEATTLE - A special episode of Evening in collaboration with Start It Seattle featuring the Seattle entrepreneurs making style a science. Evening reporters Michael King and Kim Holcomb host from the co-working space, ATLAS Workbase.

 

Black Bear Brand aims for style that never goes out of style

They just don't make things the way they used to, right? Leather-backed snaps. Old school. Down to the smallest of details.

Josh Sirlin is all about creating fashions that never goes out of style.

“I try to make s--- look cool,” said Sirlin. “Sometimes that works out.”

Even his company, Black Bear Brand, is something old and something new.

Josh salvaged the Black Bear name from the long-defunct Black Manufacturing Company of Seattle, which made work clothes for loggers and miners. He's using the brand to define the timeless, hand-crafted quality of its apparel.

“[You] wake up in the morning and you go to an office or you go to a garage: You can look good in both those places,” said Sirlin.

Josh is working with like-minded crafters and manufacturers all across the country to expand Black Bear Brand into other product lines, from surfboards to beanies.

“I seek the interaction of people that have those things I don't have,” Josh said.

Josh calls it his "union of makers."

“[A] community of people that are making cool s---,” he said.

He is collaborating with Dickies on a pant collection, he works with Pendleton in regards to the material and wool, and Portland's Wesco Boots is bringing his footwear to life.

“They don't make any boots outside of their Oregon factory,” Josh said. “[In] most aspects of it there's involvement from different brands, different materials, different designers, different manufacturers. There's all these things that are contributing towards that.”

He's even used that collaborative approach, working with leather crafters and customizers to restore a 1937 Harley to racing condition.

Josh is bringing new life to old wheels as he resurrects a vintage brand for a new generation.

 

Brazilian beauty products that will help save the Amazon

Teadora is a story of love,” Teadora founder Valeria Cole said. “A love that my mother instilled in me for rain forest conservation and for the bounty of the rain forest.”

A native Brazilian, Cole says her line of eco-chic, anti-aging beauty products are made with secret recipes of super fruits and other ingredients that can only be found in the Amazon rain forest.

“One of the main ingredients we use is called cupuaçu, which comes from the chocolate family,” Cole said. “It’s an ingredient that is clinically proven to be 400 percent more moisturizing than shea butter, and it’s also very sustainably harvested. It's a big fruit so it's easy to pick up from the ground versus having to farm it.”

Cole is comfortable talking about Brazilian beauty secrets and the importance of saving the rain forest, but this former Apple executive says entering the crowded beauty market was something new to her.

“I was lucky enough to have some mentors that came from the industry,” Cole said. “I think that's key to anybody starting is to make sure you surround yourself with people who really know what they're doing if you happen to be coming from a completely different world.”

Teadora means "adore yourself" in Portuguese. Every product helps tell the story of the rain forest and every purchase helps protect it.

“One percent of our sales are dedicated to our goal of replanting a million trees and preserving 75,000 acres of rain forest which is actually equivalent to 88 Central Parks, and I'm very excited about that, ” Cole said.

“The first thing I love about is the smell,” customer Nancy Bos said. “It just makes me feel great every time I smell that smell, and the social consciousness of the product, that's fantastic.”

Teadora: preserving beauty for individuals and a natural treasure for the world

“I think wherever my mom is in heaven she's super excited to hear this,” Cole said.

 

University of Washington startup Samshék makes affordable custom fashions for all shapes and sizes

A fashion revolution is being launched from a University of Washington dorm room, and it's making small, medium, and large sizes obsolete.

21-year-old UW senior Abhishek Bajaj started Samshék because he knew the next clothing trend wasn't coming from the runway.

"Technology is the next big thing for the fashion industry," he said.

Samshék sprang from the realization that the fashion industry has not kept up with the tech boom. The name is a mashup of his name and his sister's, Samiksha Bajaj, who also is a co-founder of the startup. 

"If we bring in technology, and we make the process faster, and we deliver that with high quality, then we have the next big thing," Abhishek said.

That next big thing is replacing tape measures and scissors with artificial intelligence and automation. Samshék makes women's fashions that fit any shape or size perfectly: complete customization.

Customers enter four measurements when they order -- and can alter anything from neckline to sleeve length online.

Dresses average $80 -- tops are under $50 -- and orders are delivered within five days.

"It's affordable luxury clothing," Abhishek said.

Tech also makes this Seattle startup a global company: Their designer is in Italy, their clothes are made in India, and their customer base is worldwide. Abhishek also takes pride in the fact that their manufacturing plant in his native India employs mostly women and pays them a fair living wage.

Taking the idea from concept to reality involved a lot of 3 a.m. Skype sessions and 115-hour work weeks, but Abhishek says there's an additional secret to his company's success. 

"With a good team you can do anything," he said. "You can do wonders."

The logo is a golden unicorn that represents individuality, immediacy, and innovation: Samshék's guiding principles.

But to customers, that unicorn means something else: finding that elusive perfect fit.

 

Fitcode matches your body to the perfect fitting jeans

Kirkland supermodel Rian Buckley tries on jeans for a living. So she knows how hard it is to find the perfect pair.

That's why she created Fitcode, a website that matches you with your dream jeans in 30 seconds.

A quiz identifies your curves, your backside, and your legs to come up with your free, personal Fitcode and the perfect fitting jeans.  

 

Local company Tousled brings the beauty to you

Going out on the town with your girlfriends is always fun. But for Catherine Filley, tonight is extra special.

"So we are going out for my bachelorette party," Filley said. "I have no idea what anybody has planned." 

The only thing she does know is that thanks to a local company, she and her friends are going out and looking good.

"So the name of our company is Tousled, and we are an app that brings beauty on demand," said Priya Dandawate, co-owner of Tousled.

Think of them as the UBER for hair and beauty. Tousled helps provide a variety of styling services to those on the go.

"You can book hairstylist, makeup artist, barbers, massage therapist directly to you, all through your smartphone," Dandawate said.

For Filley and her friends, it was far easier to have Tousled's team of mobile makeup artist meet them at their room at the Bellevue Hilton than working around a schedule of a salon.

"Trying to get a bunch of different people come to a salon and having to make an appointment is really, really a big hassle," she said. "So having them come to us is a huge benefit."

"We save them a lot of time and hassle and we have such a large network of service providers -- more than two hundred local professionals throughout the Seattle area -- so we have someone close to our clients no matter where they are," said Melissa Albert, co-owner of Tousled.

From wedding days to bedridden patients, the online service has been a big help to those with a busy schedule and to those who want to avoid something truly ugly, like traffic.

"People are just basically really appreciative that they don't have to head out in this famous Seattle-area traffic," Albert said.

After a couple of hours of hair and makeup, Filley is ready for her big night to begin.

"I love it," Filley said. "It's definitely not something I could pull off on my own." 

"They know when all those pictures are captured and put up on Facebook and Instagram they're all going to look great in all of them," Albert said.

 

Seattle Startup helps you dress like a boss

Although the average woman spends hundreds of hours each year shopping, many still feel frustrated when looking in their closets to find an outfit to wear each day. But a new Seattle startup called Armoire aims to solve that problem. 

Ambika Singh, CEO and co-founder at Armoire, says the company is inspired by the idea of a multi-tasking "boss lady." 

"That means she has incredible capacity to do super well with whatever her passion is," Singh said. "And a result of her being so excellent is that she's super busy."

Singh and her founding team, a group of professional women, all found they identified with the issues that arise by being a boss lady. 

"We really enjoyed having new things to wear, yet there wasn't really time to put together the wardrobe that we were looking for," Singh said. 

The journey to solving that problem started while the team was going through MIT's Accelerator Program, which helps entrepreneurs get their start.

"We started to think about how to make this easier for both getting the variety we wanted with the time we actually had to spend," said Singh. 

Their ultimate solution? An online rental subscription service that takes the time and guess work out of shopping. 

"This is the new version of sharing clothes with your sister or cousin, which is something that I grew up doing with my friends," Singh said. "Now we're just making that a little easier with the internet, and you can share instead of just with your sister, with a lot of other people."

While renting clothes online is a concept that has already come to life through other companies, Singh said Armoire's technology is the key to standing apart from the competition. 

When a user signs up through Armoire's website, they are prompted to fill out a style form. It asks a variety of questions about the user's body type and fit preferences. Users are also prompted to leave feedback about what they like or don't like about photos of different garments.  From there, Armoire's machine-learning algorithm tries to understand responses on the style form by looking for patterns. That data is then used to create a virtual closet for each user, which contains 10-12 items. This is the crucial step to Armoire's process that leads to saving time. Because of the curated virtual closet, users do not have search through hundreds of pages of inventory to find items they'll like. 

"The fact that we've given them minutes, hours, many hours in some cases, back in their lives is really inspiring," Singh said. 

Users can pick up to four items from their virtual closet per shipment. Once received, there is no return deadline, and return shipping is free. If a customer ends up loving one of the pieces, they can be purchased at a steep discount. Armoire also cleans all the clothes once they are returned, which eliminates the need for a customer to make a trip to the cleaners. 

 

 

 

Some of the brands included in the rental service include Kate Spade, Ted Baker, and Yumi Kim. Since Armoire's launch last summer, the company has partnered with Boston-based brands Brass and Ministry, as well NYC-based Of Mercer. Singh said those particular brands feature workwear that is both comfortable and practical. 

But the clothes available for rent aren't just for women in the workplace. Singh saidmany of their current customers are busy moms who find the service very convenient. No matter your occupation or lifestyle, she said Armoire is driven by the ability to give all women time back to focus on the things they love. 

 

Thrive Causemetics promotes 'beauty with a purpose'

From the very beginning, Thrive Causemetics approached beauty differently.

During a photo shoot two years ago, their model was also part of the mission.

"I had beautiful long blonde [hair], which was nice, but I also had really long lashes as well," said model Lauren Lichon.

Those were features Lauren loved but lost after being diagnosed with alopecia.

She tried traditional false lashes, but they wouldn't stick to her bare skin, a problem also faced by women going through chemotherapy.

That's where Thrive Causemetics came in with a handful of toxin-free, cruelty-free vegan products designed to work for everyone.

And for every item sold, one product was donated to a woman with cancer.

"We're more than just your traditional cosmetics company, and we're truly for a cause,” said Thrive founder Karissa Bodnar.

And the company has been expanding and thriving ever since the beginning.  

"Since we last met a couple of years ago,” Bodnar said, “we've come out with 50 new products which is so exciting!"

Lip gloss, lipstick, eye shadow, blush, and so much more -- a full line of products, now being worn by celebrities, and earning Bodnar her own name in print as one the country's top young entrepreneurs.

"Last year, Shonda Rhimes guest-edited the September edition and chose us, Thrive Causemetics and myself, to be part of the Awesome Women Awards,” Bodnar said.

As her line has grown, so has the giving, by expanding to women dealing with domestic violence, and continuing the mission of empowerment through beauty.

Bodnar said having that mission was key to her success.

"The number one thing is know your 'why,' know why you started," Bodnar said. "You have to hold onto that ‘why’. When you're working at 2 a.m. and there's no one else there... Knowing your 'why' is the most important thing when you're starting a company."

In less than three years, Thrive Causemetics is fulfilling its mission and then some.

"To have started it out of a one bedroom apartment and then a two bedroom apartment and now to be in an office and have the incredible community support we've had online has just been more than I could ever ask for," Bodnar said. "It's been incredible."

 

How to become a fashion and beauty entrepreneur

Seattle entrepreneur and founder of the Package GuardMichael Grabham, talks with Evening reporter Saint Bryan about tips and advice on becoming an entrepreneur in the fashion and beauty world.

Saint: Michael, we're meeting a lot of fashion and cosmetic entrepreneurs tonight. Both seem like crowded fields so how would someone like me ever get started?

Michael: First thing I would do is find a local brand, emulate that brand and look for contacts in that company by using LinkedIn, because they'll most likely be happy to meet with you and talk about your idea.

Saint: Is it easier to get a product out there before the public than it was five or ten years ago?

Michael: Absolutely. Because today you have social media. You can get feedback even without a product and that's the key. If you can create prototypes and get feedback from customers, you'll understand what they want and what they really don't want.

Saint: I have an idea for a product line of t-shirts, but how many t-shirts -- for instance - would I have to make at first?

Michael: Don't make a dozen t shirts. Make one or two, maybe three at the most. And then test those one, two, or three out using social media. Your platform, right? To get the feedback from customers who say, “This one really works, I hated this one, this was awesome.” All it takes is one great product.

Saint: Where do I find my first customer?

Michael: You have what we call "finding your tribe." That target customer. People who going to gravitate to your brand so again you look for similar brands, see what their customer base is like and start reaching out to them, but you have to start talking to customers and potential customers because you will get valuable feedback right away. And you just have to do that on a constant basis.

 

Q&A with the founders of Package Guard and Teadora

Val Cole and Mike Grabham talk about how they got started, and the steps they made to make dreams a reality.

We hosted a LIVE Q&A on Facebook with two local startup entreprenuers; Mike Grabham, inventor/founder of Package Guard and advisor to local startups, and Valeria Cole, founder/CEO of Seattle beauty start up Teadora, who moved from a career as an executive at Apple into the beauty product industry.

 

 

 

 

Evening is your guide to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.   Watch it weeknights at 7:30 on KING 5 TV or streaming live on KING5.com.  Connect with Evening via FacebookTwitterInstagram or email: eveningtips@king5.com.

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