This inspiring story is of a rising startup called Sugopetite, started by Susan S. Sugopetite, is a sustainable fashion house for petite women. They bring unique designs to petite fashionistas while lowering our planet’s environmental impact through sustainable fabrics and ethical manufacturing practices. Here is the story of Sugopetite in Susan’s own words.
Introduce us to the idea of Sugopetite
As a petite woman, I have always struggled to find clothes that fit proportionately for my petite size. There may be many petite women out there going through the same struggles, and I wanted to solve that problem. At the same time, I wanted to do it meaningfully by contributing positively to our planet’s conservation.
Unfortunately, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global Carbon dioxide emissions (CO2 ), and I didn’t want to contribute to it. I chose to work with a sustainable fabric that requires 70% less energy to manufacture and is made with post-consumer plastic bottles.
Every one of our dresses keeps about 30 bottles of plastic out of oceans, landfills (where it would take up to 1000 years to biodegrade), and incinerators (with toxic emissions). Instead, they are re-purposed into beautiful dresses! Compared to cotton, our production runs so far have saved 1,000,000 gallons of water – the equivalent of one year of drinking water for 250 people. That’s why we say that Sugopetite is a better fit for Petites and our planet.
What’s your strategy story? What led you to start Sugopetite?
My love for fashion started at a very early age. My dad was a couturier, and I grew up involved in the development of garments with him. Unfortunately, he passed away when I was eight years old, and I was left with the desire to follow in his footsteps and learn more about creating beautiful dresses.
At just 13 years old, I sewed my first piece – a dress for myself – under my aunt’s direction and teaching, who also works in the fashion industry. Fashion is in my blood! At 19, I began studying fashion design at the Colegio Tecnologico Creativo Los Proceres in Guatemala City and completed a degree in fashion design in two years.
In 2015, I decided to start a fashion blog for petite women (www.sugopetite.blog). I discovered a whole new world of supporting and uplifting women! Like me, buying clothes off the rack was almost impossible for my new community of petite women. They were too big, everywhere. Unlike me, they didn’t have decades of experience sewing and were not able to tailor each piece to their small frame. I wanted to solve that problem.
What marketing, operation strategies are you adopting at Sugopetite?
Blogging, social media, and word of mouth have been the most effective ways to raise awareness for Sugopetite. We are a community of petite women! Instagram helps us to keep an open dialog with our customers and really listening to them.
Social media, email marketing, and blogging have also been vehicles for educating our community and customers. I have been able to share my passion for bringing sustainability to the forefront of the fashion industry.
Working with a manufacturer in Guatemala City, where I am from, is a cost-conscious decision and a socially conscious decision. An ethical, reliable manufacturer produces our high-quality dresses in Guatemala. I personally vouch for their commitment to quality, safety, and fair working conditions. But it is not without additional challenges. Organizing a production run requires many pieces to come together, like shipping every tag and zipper, dealing with customs, scheduling to fit the manufactures calendar, etc. We have overcome these challenges with intensive planning.
Any strategy mistakes you have made and what did you learn?
Beginning our first production run in Guatemala was a series of hard lessons. Getting our sustainable, recycled-PET fabric from Canada to Guatemala, and then the final product to the US was, in short, a nightmare. I learned a lot about choosing the right partners – even something as “trivial” as a shipping partner can be devastating to a production run. The launch of our first Signature Piece was delayed by months. In the future, I will never underestimate the importance of any partner along our value chain.
It also reminded me of the value of persistence! When something doesn’t go well, I don’t quit or give up. I find another way to make it happen.
Finally what advice do you have for your fellow entrepreneur readers?
The most important piece of advice I can give is to take care of your health. Especially as entrepreneurs, we tend to carry the full weight of the business on our shoulders and push our health aside. But you won’t be able to pursue anything without your health. If you are healthy, you will be able to fight to create the life and the career of your dreams. Being healthy will allow you to stay motivated, to feel happy, and to make smarter decisions for your business.
Disclaimer: The information in the above story is provided by the startup and The Strategy Story takes no responsibility for the authenticity of the product and services offered by the startup. Reader’s discretion is advised.
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