Interview by Marija Butkovic (@MarijaButkovic)
Tanya James, BBA, MBA, began her career in the Fashion Industry working as a dress Buyer for Van Buren Neiman one of New York’s leading resident buying offices. As a contributing Fashion Editor for Women World Magazine Tanya enjoyed working with top fashion houses, photographers and models producing trend setting Fashion News layouts a position that required extensive world travel. As an innovative thinker Tanya began her first business brainchild the home shopping network called Image Makers. The business concept behind Image Makers allowed women the opportunity to purchase designer fashions over cable television. Her next innovation was Image-Makers of Hollywood, the business that permitted her the ability to combine her retail and styling talents at the same time. Tanya began to wardrobe a host of celebrities as well as to style for Photo sessions, Videos, TV, Films and live fashion show productions. After graduating from the Center for Media Arts and taking New Media Business and Multimedia Presentation Design classes at NYU Tanya began to producing a variety of Television programs. During that process Tanya also attended graduate school studying Media arts and information Systems management/E-commerce achieving her MBA in 2012. She currently runs Global Fashion Technology Federation and The Internet of Fashion organisation as its founder and CEO.
What is the idea behind your product / project and how did you come up with it?
The idea behind my company GFTF.org was to create a non profit membership organization that would focus on educating the mainstream fashion industries on the the existing and emerging technologies available to enhance the future business models. The idea behind the Internet of fashion actually started with my desire to create fashionable wearables for people with Alzheimers, dementia and autism. Out of that passion we began meetups and our annual Internet of fashion expo showcasing fashion tech designers creations.
When did all start and do you have other members in your team?
We began the business in January 2015 and we do have an Executive team and several advisory board members.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
We are still expanding, researching and discovering new technologies daily. So I can say we are still in the learning and growing process, a place I feel will continue as long as we progress technology.
What was the biggest obstacle?
I feel funding and also connecting with others that share and understand the space of fashion tech.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
We continue to work on all our initiatives. Especially developing fashionable looks for the disabled.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder and entrepreneur?
I have found that others are always trying to impose stumbling blocks to prevent the other company from achieving success in the space. When I say that I am referring to other fashion tech creators that would spread untruths or try to destroy someone else credibility. But I guess it’s all in trying to stop the competition.
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
I would say tech in general is important to me. I am an pioneer, innovator, visionary, always looking to create the next great thing that can help and advance our society. So gender really doesn’t matter in my personal option.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
My biggest achievement is inspiring others to reach for the technological gold ring. I enjoy speaking about how we all can create the next amazing innovation.
What will be the key trends in the wearable tech and fashion tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
The leading trends point to customization and personalization. Knowing exactly what your individual customers like and delivering an individual product that speak exclusively to that single individual.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs out there?
I would say ignore the haters, embrace your passions and do something that can make a difference.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in Wearable Tech and Fashion Tech industries?
Neri Oxman is a true genius. I wish she would speak more to our young teens so early on they realize they can be genius also. Dr. Katy Borner from the university of Indiana. A brilliant professor that teaches how following the data points can create the exact roadmap that can provide the knowledge to customize and personalize for your customers. Beyonce a young female entrepreneur that has recently started and activewear collection that is entering the fashion tech activewear space. Always looking into the future. Ms. B gives and shares herb fame to inspire and make a difference in the lives of young woman.
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, co-founder of Women of Wearables and Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.