By Marija Butkovic (@MarijaButkovic)
Lotte Vink lives in Amsterdam and holds two bachelor degrees - in Social Psychology and Business Economics. Before founding LABFRESH Lotte was a stylist and team lead at The Cloakroom in Amsterdam and Berlin. During hundreds of style sessions with men she developed a deep understanding of the preferences men have towards clothing and shopping. She learned that a lot of men care about high quality basics, that do not go out of fashion by the end of the season. Soon after the dream was born to create the next generation of shirts. Lotte's dream is to have a full collection of tech-infused basics that will make the life easier for men all over the globe.
What is your idea / project and how did you come up with it?
The mission with LABFRESH is to "combine" technology and fashion to improve the way you wear and take care of your clothes without compromising on the look and feel. We are launching with one core product first, which are men’s dress shirts. The cotton fibers from the shirt are treated with a patented INDUO® technology on a molecular level before they are spun into fabric. The treatment blocks all fluids from entering the fabric, without compromising on the premium feeling and the breathability.
In some way LABFRESH is our way of fighting fast fashion and cheap products that you only wear a few times, before you get bored with them.
We want to empower consumers to change irresponsible consumption patterns by developing a shirt that lasts longer and always look fresh.
A lot is happening in innovation in most area’s of our lives, so also in fashion. You can see that sports brands are really embracing new technologies and are leading the way but the fashion industry is slow to adapt. We really want to bring innovation and “smart” textiles to our every day clothing. We started to test out different samples for months. When we found a fabric we really believed in I made a big decision to quit my job to go all in on bringing this technology to market.
When did all start and do you have other members in your team?
We received our first sample in July 2016. I’m starting LABFRESH together with Kasper Brandi Petersen. He launched The Cloakroom three years ago, the most successful personal shopping service in the Benelux and Nordics.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
We received our first sample in July. Before that we were brainstorming about the idea for only a month, so you can say we started acting quite fast.
What was the biggest obstacle?
The biggest obstacle for me is being patient. That comes back in different area’s. For example when you are working with other people and are dependent on them delivering. That can sometimes cause me frustrations, it can not go fast enough for me.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder in the country you live in?
The challenges from working in this niche is that we are doing something that is not proved on a big scale yet, so there is risk in that.
From being a female founder I only experience positive influences. The female entrepreneur community is very welcoming and supportive.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
We launched our Kickstarter campaign a couple of days ago and we already reached €38.000. We hit our minimum pledge within one day, that was a really good feeling!
What are your projects you are currently working on within your company?
We are in the middle of our Kickstarter campaign and that is all consuming at the moment.
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?
Maybe I’m a bit biased but I have a lot of belief that what we are doing now will be the new standard. It looks and feels like normal clothing but will last you longer and is easier to maintain.
Why is #WomenInTech movement important to you?
A good network should never be underestimated. I think #WomenInTech is a great initiative to bring like minded people together.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs out there?
When you feel scared or insecure it only means you are growing so embrace that feeling and be excited about it instead of letting it scare you off when trying something new.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in wearable tech and fashion tech?
At LABFRESH we work closely together with Pauline Guesné, cofounder of INDUO®. Her determination and passion for what she is doing is very remarkable.
Noa Raviv is a designer who made a beautiful jewellerycollection with 3D printing.
One of my favourite female founders is Lori Greiner. I love her on Shark Tank and it’s very impressive what she has achieved. I'm not sure if she ever did anything in fashion tech but with the 120 patents she holds, it would be likely she did.
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.