23 July 2019

Aisha Saraf Kothari, founder of AISPI

 

Een tijd geleden interviewden we Aisha Saraf Kothari, oprichter van AISPI. AISPI is een site waarmee je in Europese steden interessante en unieke kledingswinkels kan vinden. Op die manier steun je lokale zaken en heb je een uniek aandenken van de steden die je bezoekt. Om meer bij te leren kan je www.aispi.co bezoeken.

 

Hi, I am Aisha and the founder of AISPI. Born and brought up in India, studied and worked in the US and now married in Belgium. The last 30 years have given me a diverse and amazing perspective into the differences and similarities of global cultures.

 

The one thing that remained constant through the moves was the learning that our actions have the ability to create an impact – whether small or big!

 

 

What is your inspiration behind AISPI?

 

The inspiration behind AISPI is simple, “Bridge the gap”

 

I saw a gap between the beautiful world of fashion and the everyday consumer. There is so much art and creativity out there, but the everyday consumer only scrapes the tip of the iceberg.

 

When was the last time you visited Florence, Paris, Milan or London and shopped outside of the ‘main shopping streets’, in the heart of Europe’s fashion scene? How much time did it take you to find those stores and how many of them were really worth the trek?

 

We help consumers shop from the heart of Europe’s fashion by curating a validated selection of boutique stores and upcoming designers.

 

What can one do on your website?

 

● Order curated finds from the most coveted niche designers of Europe by following our instagram (click here www.instagram.com/aispi.co/)

 

● Find boutiques near you (using our location finder) as you sip on that coffee and take in the wonderful history of Europe

 

● Create your own boutique list using filters such as price, city and recommended by. Very much like the michelin guide for local restaurants

 

● Get inspired and gain knowledge about the materials that you wear, meet the creative minds behind labels and attend fashion shows and events yourself

 

How does Aispi choose what brands, boutiques, and/or designers to bring in and work with?

 

There are three pillars that guide our curation

 

● Fashion forward: Fashion forward can mean many things, on trend, sustainable, timeless, classic. At AISPI fashion forward can mean all of the above as we are looking for finds that are hidden gems.

 

● Value for money: Given my business background, I always believe there is a fair price for everything. You are either paying for the brand, the style or the material. Therefore at AISPI we always justify the price range, you need to have a feel good factor about what you buy and not a guilt factor!

 

● Local and/or emerging: The end result at AISPI is that you find things that are hard to find. The fashion on AISPI is geared towards local brands, which can be big or small in their own way. While we steer away from mainstream brands, we do encourage multi brand stores. This is because we see the selection of each multi brand store reflects the curation of the city. Similarly we work with young emerging designers that are willing to personalize and customize clothes for our clients.

 

 

Why is this different than all the platforms out there?

 

On the consumer side, AISPI is different because

 

● Through our boutique finder we make fashion an experience. In a world that is driven by experiences and memories, fashion has remained traditional and surrounded with the taboo of consumerism. Now what you wear tells a story about you, your travels and your adventures.

 

● The designers we curate are available only for a limited period of time, it keeps up the exclusivity

 

For designers, we realized that the journey between the creative vision of the designer and reaching the target audience is rather long and difficult. Before you know it, you’re out of cash, still struggling to get stocked and with no numbers to prove to a potential investor. While the build, measure, learn mentality has penetrated almost every other industry, the fashion industry remains traditional and bureaucratic.

 

Through short sprints from consulting, content creation, product launch, marketing, distribution and funding, we help select upcoming designers with every business aspect. Like the ying to yang, at AISPI our strategic hub allows you to implement the lean startup methodology to fashion. 

 

Read more on www.aispi.co/designer-portal/

 

Where do you see AISPI in the future?

 

The way I see it, AISPI is a mindset to be unique. In the future I see AISPI as a fashion experience similar to today’s Harrods, Printemps, Barneys in key cities of the world where in one physical place you can experience all the local fashion experiences of the country. An amalgamation of boutiques and local designers.

 

Digitally, I see AISPI as THE place to discover validated and curated upcoming designers globally, not just in Europe.

 

Additionally, for designers, a launchpad that allows you to reach your target audience in a short sprint without the bureaucracy.

 

What is your advice to entrepreneurs?

 

Its a marathon, not a sprint!

 

As an entrepreneur, you’re always hungry for more. Recently I was preparing for one of the first investor conversations and I told my husband, “things are becoming real now”. He looked at me and said, “do you remember you said the same thing when your website went live?”

 

The other tip is, have a thick skin - don’t underestimate the amount of emotional strength that is needed. Harsh criticism can be painful, and feeling defensive is natural. However, always look at the silver lining - this is free consultancy! Always have a pen and paper out when you are talking to people about your idea, note down their feedback, don’t react. Go back home, and calmly take out the productive pieces that will help you pivot and grow.