Three Next Big Things in Fashion and Technology
Nudy Patooty, Sidebuy and Adrenalease join the Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation.
We’re so excited to introduce you to the third group of entrepreneurs joining the Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation at Ryerson University.
Since 2015, Joe Fresh has partnered with Ryerson University’s Fashion Zone to create a business incubator with the mission of finding and fostering innovative Canada-based companies. It’s our favourite time again, because now we get to welcome a fresh crop of talent to the program.
Nudy Patooty, Sidebuy and Adrenalease will now have access to the Fashion Zone’s workspace and facilities as well as mentorship and networking opportunities from the Joe Fresh and Ryerson University leadership teams. They’ll also receive up to $50,000 in startup funding.
Get to know these three game-changers now, and how their services and products could be improving all of our lives very soon.
Who: Michelle Shemilt, a Toronto-based Ontario native.
What: Made in Canada with high-tech fabric, Nudy Patooty is a transformative undergarment that wicks away sweat before it can stain clothing. Nudy Patooty helps keep women comfortable and confident in their clothes all day long, and also helps prolong the life of clothing by decreasing the frequency at which they need to be washed.
Lightbulb moment: Shemilt was working in finance when she reached a breaking point of exasperation with high dry-cleaning bills and time spent hand-washing garments. She began searching for a foundation layer that would keep her outfits in better shape, but was surprised to find no such thing existed. “I started talking about this problem with my female friends, colleagues and clients, and realized this was daily frustration for the majority of women…Women want to look and feel their best every day, and part of that is wearing clothes that make us feel confident. However, sweat stains can ruin a great outfit and determine what we can or can’t wear.” As Shemilt started developing a solution for herself, Nudy Patooty was born.
The road so far: With no background or connections in retail, Shemilt had to cold-call manufacturers until she found someone that would help her refined her undergarment idea. She launched Nudy Patooty via a crowdfunding site and continued to perfect the design as she began selling it through e-commerce. Nudy Patooty is now in over 85 boutiques.
Inspiration: In addition to traveling and discovering new cultures, Shemilt is inspired by the business story and leadership of Spanx’s Sara Blakely, and says that entrepreneur Seth Godin motivates her to think outside the box.
On joining the Joe Fresh Centre: “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of mentors and advisors, so being able to work with the Joe Fresh executives is an invaluable opportunity,” Shemilt says. She’s also excited to build peer relationships with and get inspired by her fellow entrepreneurs as she works toward her goals. “I think the Joe Fresh Centre is going to help me scale the business, and I hope to work on expanding our distribution, optimizing our supply chain, and building brand awareness.”
Who: Mona Akhavi, an entrepreneur living between Tehran, Iran; Vancouver, Canada; and Paris, France.
What: Launched in 2015, Sidebuy is a data-driven platform that seeks to improve the experience of marketing for both brands and consumers through influencers. The system links brands with relevant bloggers and social media tastemakers to help those brands advertise with exciting, informative content–and it helps influencers monetize their expertise.
Lightbulb moment: “I saw a gap in the media and online advertising, where the balancing of advertising and content was a struggle for publishers and brands. Content created by influencers bridges that gap of somewhat authentic advertising while creating an effective product placement.” Akhavi realized that with an aggregator like Sidebuy, both brands and influencers could save time finding each other and creating impactful campaigns.
The road so far: Akhavi started by drafting a business plan and meeting with influencers and brands in Vancouver, Toronto and Los Angeles. After conducting market research, she secured funding, hired developers and got to work. One of her biggest challenges now is competing with the long-standing relationships some brands have with marketing agencies, but it’s a challenge she’s confident the networking opportunities at the Joe Fresh Centre will help Sidebuy overcome.
Inspiration: Akhavi is inspired by the “idea of creating and a fun and rewarding work environment where everyone can realize their best potential.” She also points to the beautiful design of shoes and fast cars, as well as certain cities, like Paris and San Francisco. “Also, Toronto gives me a worldly and multicultural perspective on the arts, food, fashion and the digital world.”
On joining the Joe Fresh Centre: “We are excited to be part of the Joe Fresh Centre to connect and create synergies with other innovative Canadian fashion startups, like-minded entrepreneurs and talented designers. We are thrilled to learn from the top mentors who part of this program and to partner up with an organization that is creating an impact in the future of Canadian fashion and e-commerce technology.”
Who: Noureddin Chahrour, a Toronto-dweller from Damascus, Syria.
What: Chahrour kicked off Adrenalease in April of 2015 to “help people stand up taller.” The line of apparel—focusing on foundation wear—is designed to help correct posture, providing the comfort, support, and fit that people need to improve their stance and therefore eliminate the neck and shoulder pain that plagues so many.
Lightbulb moment: Chahrour was in his biomechanics class when it hit him that there could actually be a simple solution for this common, everyday problem. He decided to “try and raise awareness about the negative effects of poor posture and to try and replace the undershirt” with his products.
The road so far: Chahrour developed his idea with the help of advisors and professors at the University of Toronto. He took Adrenalease onto TV’s Dragon’s Den and then launched it into the market. Chahrour says the biggest challenge so far has been keeping up with demand, but that he’s been rising to that challenge through hard work, dedication, and a strong team.
Inspiration: “We have always thought of the future and where we could be. What drives us the most is the possibility of what we could achieve one, five, or ten years from now and we look forward to meeting our future selves.”
On joining the Joe Fresh Centre: Chahrour is excited to work with the Joe Fresh Centre on making Adrenalease’s products more fashionable and giving the line’s customers more choices and different looks. “We hope to develop some new products that will take our brand to the next level. The key benefits are the advisors that we have gained in the fashion industry. The Joe Fresh Centre will help us achieve our [mission] of expanding.”