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Blending Fashion and Tech with Zarie

Zarie’s dream is to use innovative fabrics to create a suite of athleisure wear to accommodate the diverse range of activities that makes life colorful, offering comfort, functionality and playfulness.

The idea of utilizing fabric technology with slimming and cosmetic effects came up when Stephanie was designing an eco swimwear line prior to Zaire. Thinking about the executive woman tied to an office chair who falls victim to poor lower body circulation and cellulite, Stephanie decided to change her business direction to athleisure. The cosmetic ingredients inside their signature DREAM leggings help women lose lower body weight, excess water retention, improve circulation and minimize the appearance of cellulite.

In a previous life…

Being a lingerie/swimwear designer before, Stephanie is well-connected to manufacturers. However, to bring the product to market Zarie is using Next Chapter, a Hong Kong crowdfunding platform for women led businesses. Stephanie says working with traditional media channels as well as social media in Hong Kong also helps to raise brand awareness.

Also see #DreamBig - Fintech feature: Next Chapter

Coping with the unknown

Stephanie say the only thing that is consistent in her everyday routine is staying agile and keeping a positive mindset.

“I wake up at 5 am, do two hours of boot camp, and have a kale juice for breakfast.” Stephanie jokes. “I aspire to do that but it never translates into reality. As a one-man team, I have to juggle everything from designing my own EDM to generating bar codes for my products. There’s never a day that goes as planned. Ad hoc tasks or fires come up quite often.”

In the future, Stephanie has a vision of how her company environment will be. “The most rewarding success to me is an office full of employees who are fairly treated, who truly believe in the brand’s ethos and are all working towards the same goal.” She explains.

The trillion-dollar health and wellness industry market

“I don't even know how many zeros that is.”

Despite feeling intimidated to be in the same category as Nike and Lululemon, Stephanie says she is inspired by the trend of well-being, and people’s pursuit of living healthier and more robust lives. She continues, “I am a sucker for “wearing is believing”—if I am wearing something that makes me FEEL fit, I am more motivated to make healthier choices.”

Stephanie hopes to grow ZARIE grow sustainably through careful introduction of new products: beautiful gym-to-work pieces that have a technological or eco-friendly edge.

Reflecting on the roadblocks she has faced, Stephanie says making the right decision at critical moments is probably the biggest challenge. “We are living in a fickle era where people’s attention spans are short, so as entrepreneurs we always need to think on our feet. This means adapting quickly, testing prototypes on people, and making revisions to keep the momentum going”

Why Hong Kong?

“Hong Kong has the best infrastructure to start a business: from registering a company; to setting up logistics to the tax-free environment, so it actually saves a lot of headaches on the operations end.” She says. However, Stephanie also thinks the fact that Hong Kong itself is a small and saturated space, it is one of the most difficult customer groups to market to.

#StartupPassion

“My passion is about creating things,” says Stephanie.

“As a person who is very much obsessed about execution, I tend to implement ideas that stick in my head—from creating clothes to designing coloring books. Being able to offer something tangible and useful to my audience is my life’s mission. If there’s no solid foundation built by hard work, a business cannot sustain no matter how lucky you are.

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