Persu Collection is a line of gym bags designed and established by Stephanie Su, a fellow UCLA graduate. These bags are the perfect medium between fashion and function. Stephanie aims to create a, “new athletic bag that pair[s] high functionality with style.” Truly an amazing feat, she only recently launched her campaign via Kickstarter a few weeks ago, and not only met her sales goal, but actually doubled it with more than 2 weeks left to spare! Doing so well for herself, I thought I’d ask Steph a few questions:
Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What year and major did you graduate UCLA from?
A. I graduated UCLA in 2010 with a Political Science major and a Film, TV, Digital Media minor. I’m originally from Sacramento, CA and transferred to UCLA from community college in 2008. I currently live in Los Angeles and work as a marketing coordinator for a TV network.
Q. Did you go through college knowing that you wanted to establish your own business? If not, when did it become apparent and why?
A. I didn’t know that I wanted to establish my own business in college. I’ve always liked the idea but at UCLA, I was actually pre-law until I learned that pursuing law wasn’t for me.
There were many things that led me to want to establish my own business. A couple years after I graduated college, I considered going to business school to get a luxury marketing MBA since I’ve always had an interest in business and fashion. I read a lot about the business fashion industry (businessoffashion.com is one of my favorite sites) and at the same time, I happen to come up with the idea for creating stylish, functional gym bags because I was frustrated that all the athletic bags were either functional and sporty like cargo pants, or fashionable and impractical. I dug a little deeper and decided that I would learn more about business by trying to start my own vs. going to business school. The huge expense of business school was also a deterrent for me.
|The Tom Bag
Q. Taking on a business is a huge endeavor. How did you even begin to know where to start?
A. I started the process step by step and addressed issues as they came up. First I was focused on the designs of the two bags and getting them to be perfect. After I received my first prototype for each bag, I showed the bags to tons of people to get their feedback and find out what they wanted in their ideal gym bag. I spent almost a year making adjustments and finalizing the bags before my final samples were complete. Once those were done and I received the production quote from the manufacturer, I decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to help raise the funding for the first round of production. It took 8 months from the time I received the final prototype before I launched the campaign on Kickstarter.
During the entire process, I followed fitness and startup fashion carefully through news and Google alerts. I also read a lot of entrepreneurial books and Googled anything I needed to know and learn. I basically provided myself cheap/free version of business school! Lol.
Q. What were some of the difficulties you encountered along the way?
A. There were a variety of difficulties encountered along the way. Launching a Kickstarter campaign was not as easy as I initially thought it would be. It took months to work on the video because of my inflexible schedule since I work full-time, and my videographer was also slammed with other larger projects and travel. Getting all of my assets together to launch the products was also difficult. I didn’t know how to make a website or use any of the Adobe programs to design my graphics yet I couldn’t afford to hire a graphic designer and web designer. So through trial and error, I designed my website on my own first in Weebly then in SquareSpace. To make my graphics, I bought the entire Adobe Creative Suite and took one-day workshops at General Assembly on the programs and topics I needed to learn.
|The Jessica Bag
Q. From your experience, what advice would you give to students, especially girls, who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs?
A. My advice for students, especially girls who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs is to not be afraid of going after your dream and pursuing your idea. There are a lot of free and affordable resources out there to help you start your business. Every business is different but so far, I’ve been able to find what I need through a variety of different, accessible ways. Another important thing to remember is to not be afraid to fail. I still have to remind myself that but you just have to look at failure as a lesson learned and pivot your plan to a new direction.
A big thanks to Stephanie for doing an interview with us, and Brooke for getting in contact with us at FAST. Cheers to Persu Collection!