In my time at Kingston University (2015), I worked in this collaborative project, consolidated as a start up business in which was developed a Young enterprise sportswear company and designed its first product: the Beebra, a sports-bra with pocket.
In this exercise, I assumed the Marketing and Communications Executive role, being in charge of the strategic planning and branding design.
The product that won awards for; 'Most Innovation Product', awarded through Young Enterprise and 'Best Product', by the Kingston University Enterprise Department; Kingston University competition 'Bright Ideas', winning £1000 investment and the prestigious Young Enterprise UK national competition obtaining 10,000 EUR and one years mentoring from Hyundai.
Start-up a Business, is a concept normally misunderstood, it is associated with selling and making money; when I told my friends I was working on a start-up project, most of them asked me the same question: what are you selling? I always told them I was indeed not selling anything, but developing a product. Some friends where optimistic with the idea, others just didn’t get it.
In fact, I discovered as well that starting up a business is not about merchandising products, it is something deeper and more complex: It is about studying humans behaviour, market trends, business models, working in groups, research, prototype, and on top of everything, is about solving problems in innovative and efficient ways.
The key factor for the development of the product was the research on the industry and the market, to analyse the users preferences and shopping experiences. This research provides the elements that would constitute the visual values of the brand that best suit the customer needs.
Bee is your backbone saying, “give it one more try” when you need a little push, she is a soft hug whispering “it’s okay” when you long for someone to understand, and your curiosity pointing “let’s see what’s on the other side of the hill!” when you are out and about in your element. She loves to be outdoors, so make sure you do not leave her behind and she will do nothing but give you unconditional love in return!
Bee will always be there when you need her. She is the type of girl who makes you want to smile on a day when nothing goes right and be present in the moment when everything is beautiful and imperfect. BeeBra is “she who brings happiness”.
How Can Bee Support You?
Through customer-surveys and consumer focus groups, we discovered ladies:
• Are unable to take all of their essentials with them;
• Do not always require a jacket whilst exercising outdoors;
• Find trouser pockets and bags can restrict movement in certain activities, such as climbing;
• Are worried items can be dropped out of less secure pockets;
• Do not want items bumping/jumping in pockets.
To solve these issues/to minimalise the problem, ladies may already:
• Use a pocket sports-bra currently on the market, however reviews imply these need improving;
• Use pockets on running trousers, however these often bump and only hold very small items;
• Wear a belt with pockets;
• Use an arm-band for iPod/phone, and use smaller bags or pockets for other items;
• Leave valuables at home;
• Hold items in their hands;
• Put items inside their sports-bra and risk them falling out or being irritated with the movement.
Further competitor analysis enabled us to discover women use a pocket sports-bras currently on the market want more spacious pockets.
the BeeBra. The garment provides our customers with all these improvements through the compression design with a large zip-pocket across the front, which provides enough space for essential items, keeps things in place and inhibits valuables from falling out. BeeBra provides our customers with all these improvements plus a waterproof-lining in the pocket and a headphone cable-tidy on the strap.
The inspiration of the brand comes from nature and the enjoyment of freedom. Focusing on the maintenance of consistency of the visual elements, I developed the image of the brand, intended to promote an active lifestyle, communicating this in every visual element that was used.
BeeBra comes from the name Bee, short for Beatrice, which means “she who brings happiness”. Bee can also remind of a Bumble Bee carrying its necessities while our logo reminds of shapes from honeycombs.
BeeBra’s packaging was designed to communicate a “naturalistic” image, consistent with customer interests and the personality of the brand.
Collaborative work is essential, developing a business implies going into different areas (Finances, marketing, sales, operations) and one person could cover all of them, but not with the same results as if working in groups. Two heads are better than one, and five better than two. Group work is time and money saving.
Informed actions are a must. One of the key factors for developing a product (or a service) is taking in consideration others opinions, gather valuable insights from direct surveys (or other methods) in order to know exactly what are you doing and for who. Once you have all this information, the next step is to incorporate it with your plans and contrast what you want or expect with what your target audience is looking for, to then come with an idea that incorporates what is humanly desirable, technologically feasible and economically viable.
Collective agreements define everything. Making an agreement means understanding others ideas, and meet them with what you have in mind. It is a give and take that allows you to decide what to do. By taking group decisions it is possible to incorporate different perspectives, reflect about others views, and in this process it is created a sense of belonging and responsibility that will foster the commitment to the project.
Challenges make you stronger. Failure is a necessary consequence of trying something new, therefore it is important to have this in mind, and keep trying until you exceed your desirable results. Testing your mind and your plans in challenging environments gives you the strength to always be positive and achieve successful results.
Time management is the most valuable advantage, without a clear image of where you start and where do you want to be, it’s impossible to find the better route to achieve your goals. Time planning is an essential part to accomplish your goals, working with others requires respect for others time, and so in that manner planning the tasks is essential. This practice allows you to evaluate the process, as every step you accomplish is marked by a time limit, giving you a margin to overcome unexpected factors.
Constant communication is effective, developing the adequate channels of communication, among the members of the group, is the key to get positive results as it is important to always be in contact with each other. From this experience I learned that having and attending regular meetings is not enough, being in charge of your project, means living it, and this implies giving a lot of your time and energy. Therefore it is vital to always being available to work and cooperate with others in order to get the best results.
Knowledge is the most valuable asset; no matter what kind of business you are developing or the size of it, always the most valuable thing you can bring in are your thoughts. Hence, it is important to always be honest of telling and sharing what you know because people will be trusting and relying on you. Because of these reasons it is important to get to know your capabilities, and always be looking forward to develop them.
Trust is everything! This is a value that should be present in all business as it provides unity and strength, even if you are not working with big resources. We need to learn to trust the work of others, and most importantly show to others that our work can be trusted, and this is only accomplished by doing a proper work, putting all your effort in working with integrity and honesty.
Cultural clashes change everything. The nowadays-globalised world requires individuals with a clear mind, open to others opinions and different multicultural environments. Assuming that a cultural difference is an error makes it impossible to progress, therefore it is important to be extremely tolerant and respectful of others ways of doing things, but also it is necessary to be able to express any dissatisfaction we are experiencing, to avoid ethnocentric problems.
Enjoy the process is the best Motivation. Starting a business is not only about hard work, it requires being enthusiastic about what you are doing, loving your idea and being able to transmit that passion in every aspect and every opportunity you can. If you are not excited about your work, none will, and it will be pointless to spend time on it. There will be times of stress, but also times of satisfaction
These lessons I learned by being part of a group of five, where each of us assumed a role based on our studies, this was an extremely great opportunity to apply what I was learning in my other lectures, and corroborate that theory is important but if we don’t learn how to apply it, then it is pointless to learn it. I also found myself interested in learning more about areas which my degree studies didn’t covered, making me do a deeper research and study of complementary theories and practices.
Another important area of development for me, was working with four ladies and developing a product directed to a female target audience, these two circumstances made me reflect on the importance of being empathic, place oneself in other shoes, understand the essential need and then put my creative thinking in action to come with innovative propositions.
This was something really challenging for me, as I was in the beginning totally not familiarized with the needs, tendencies and desires, but it was research and listening what made possible for me to understand and work with and for them. I believe this is the most important lesson and skill I have gained, and giving the fact that our product was successfully developed, I am now sure that this is an effective way of doing things, I feel now more comfortable to go and work with any project that I can get involved in.
Finally, I also discovered that I am really weak at presenting, and even if I managed to successfully communicate my work to the different groups of judges, I still haven’t enjoyed much to force my self to do this. However I learnt that with the help of other members of the group it is possible to deliver an excellent presentation. After this experience I am fully convinced that my kind of ideal work is in the planning and design areas, In the future I will prefer to be involved in the strategic and logistic process rather than being the face of a project.