Each week, Female CoFounder features a female founder in the community. Follow along each week and learn from different founders and their journeys.
We've got another great Founder Spotlight for you. Our female founder, go to this website Vasiliki Belegrinis, has a lot to share with the community!
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Q: Tell us about yourself 😃
A: I’m Vasiliki Belegrinis and I am the CEO & Founder of REHEART. I’m a two-time social entrepreneur with a great passion for fashion, sustainability and female entrepreneurship.
As a BBA graduate from the Schulich School of Business, I specialized in Marketing & Entrepreneurship and worked in previous roles at L’Oreal Canada and for PwC.
During my studies, I also co-founded Empower, a proprietary tech solution that brought remote communities the power of the internet, offline. In this social enterprise, I got my first real taste of entrepreneurship and was hooked. We were able to empower refugee camps in Uganda and Greece but throughout this process and being a current student, I became very broke.
Learning everything I could from my first start-up, I started building REHEART as a side hustle as I started my first job out of school. This was a Marketing & Ecommerce role for the number one luxury brand, Lancome, at L’Oreal Canada in Montreal. This had me moving my life from Toronto to Montreal and in a city that exudes fashion, arts, and culture. In this role, I gained incredible experience to work directly with influencers and PR projects, as well as digital partners that included other Canadian startups Modiface and Automat.ai.
Throughout my roles, I’ve been recognized by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau for my work and awarded as the first female recipient of the Peterson Family Gold Medal for Entrepreneurship.
Q: What is REHEART?
A: REHEART is an online wardrobe-sharing platform that allows millennial women to lend, sell and rent each other’s closets so that we can all save and make money -- one closet at a time!
Q: What made you start REHEART?
A: REHEART was born out of the harsh reality of living on a broke student budget, yet having an ever-growing desire to express myself through fashion. For years, I’ve been purchasing items I couldn’t really afford - resulting in maxed-out credit cards, waves of guilt and the occasional frantic rush to resell my clothes only to realize I’ll NEVER get a favourable return on investment (I've tried all the options to no avail).
Realizing I'm not alone in this daily encounter I understood the commonality of spending hundreds or even thousands on fashion pieces only never to be worn again. Our closets were collecting dust while our bank accounts were feeling the burden. In fact, research has proven that the average North American woman only regularly wears about 20% of her closet; the other 80% translates to wasted money space and natural resources. I knew that our growing consumption habits were unsustainable for our wallets and the environment -- making the fashion industry is the 2nd largest global polluter, just after oil.
Distraught by this reality, I tore down my closet transformed it into an office to build REHEART with a purposeful mission: to REDUCE our environmental impact REUSE hardly-worn items and REHEART fashion pieces from a community of women sharing their style
Since bootstrapping this out of my bedroom closet, our online wardrobe-sharing now gives women access to the nation's largest online closet worth over $500K. This closet highlights everything from sustainable designers all the way to Canadian emerging and luxury designers. Beyond fashion, we most pride ourselves in our ability to liberate women through clothes -- whether that may be financially environmentally or pure confidence-building. Each lender averages a new source of income of $150/month while reducing our carbon footprint by 72% each time an item is rented.
Q: What did you look for in your first hire?
A: The first thing I looked for in our first hire was personality. The REHEART team is full of powerful women who take charge of their life and care about advancing other women and the world sustainably. We can always train people to learn our way of doing business, but if they don’t have the right attitude and spirit that believes in REHEART being a game-changer as to how we get dressed every day, then we won’t be building the community that REHEART advocates for.
Q: What advice do you have for other women who have a start-up idea or side project idea?
A: Since building two very different startups, I have two pieces of advice. The biggest lesson I learned from my first startup was to properly save an income for a minimum of 8 months, and to learn the beauty of bootstrapping. Thus, let your startup be your side hustle at first. It’s the best time to test and iterate your company based on your coworkers’ feedback and to have the opportunity to ask the right people in your current company that can help you make it something more. The other piece of advice I have from my current startup is to hire without a resume. We’ve had the most qualified leads be gone within a month span of work. This learning has further enforced that personality and spirit are the most important qualities of building the right team that will not only support your business, but advocate for it without any doubts.
Q: How can the Female CoFounder community help you?
A: We are looking for a #girlboss and CTO! We’ve built REHEART to be Canada’s largest online fashion marketplace through a deep understanding of logistics, supply chain and marketing. As we continue to lead the sustainable fashion movement, we are looking for an incredible team member who believes in fashion sustainability and will like to join a growing startup that will lead our tech advancements from app development, subscription and beyond. This CTO will help us morph into a REHEART 2.0 and act as our co-founder. If you’re interested, message us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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