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I'm a female CEO of a Fashion tech co that's worked with Macy's + Disney & helped launched over 500 brands without holding inventory all while #stilettostrapping- AMA!

AMANDA CURTIS
Feb 6, 2018

Fashion + tech = my world. I grew up in the fashion industry and graduated from Boston University & Parsons School of Design. As a fashion designer I went from New York Fashion week designing for Richie Rich, DVF, and A-list celebrities to bringing a solo designed collection all the way at London Fashion Week in my first season. From the trenches I realized that the fashion business model desperately needed a redesign so I decided to learn from tech startups about what they were doing right. Seven years ago I entered into the tech startup world in the retail marketing space & learned first hand the efficiency and potential of the space. Nineteenth Amendment is the result of the collision of my two worlds; a platform & business model that gives designers a smart way break into the fashion industry with the least amount of time, effort, and money (what I call #StilettoStrapping), while growing domestic manufacturing and bringing amazing, undiscovered fashion from the runway to closets of fashion lovers through a new type of retailing we refer to as 'fashion-as-experience'. My mission, starting in fashion, is to make the way products come to market, are made, and are sold, better for everyone: from designers and shoppers, to manufacturers and retailers. I'm Forbes’ 30 Under 30 2016 for Retail & E-commerce, Apparel Magazine's 30 Under 30 2016, NRF's Person Shaping Retail's Future 2018, I am a mentor at TechStars, a mentor with AOL's Built by Girls and I'm just getting started. Ask me anything!

https://www.nineteenthamendment.com/

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Over the years, was the support of your family and friends good while you were on your way of becoming a CEO?

Feb 12, 8:33PM EST0

What advice can you offer to today's entrepreneurs in order for them to have faith and succed in their jobs?

Feb 12, 4:41AM EST0

What is the most overwhelming thing about having so many responsibilities at such a young age?

Feb 11, 4:19PM EST0

I actually think that my age helps me keep things in perspective. I have less personal obligations and an optimistic outlook that hasn't been jadded by experience. 

Feb 13, 1:08PM EST0

Could you share your experience of all your achievements so far? How did you feel about getting recognized by Forbes, NRF and Apparel magazine?

Feb 10, 6:48AM EST0

It was amazing to have Nineteenth Amendment recognized by both the business wold and the retail world at the highest levels - it's amazing validation. Personally these accolades are very nice but at 30 years old they also come with a self-made pressure to keep innovating and performing at a very high level. It's a good pressure and it's something I thrive under, but it's pressure nonetheless.

Feb 10, 11:48AM EST0

How did your journey from fashion to tech to retail marketing space has shaped you as an entrepreneur?

Feb 9, 7:41AM EST0

My journey has given me a 360 view of the fashion industry and it's potential. Starting a company from the ground up gives you first hand experience to every part of the business of fashion (#manymanyhats).

Feb 10, 11:34AM EST0

how many independent fashion designers/labels are you currently working on the Nineteenth Amendment? How's the experience so far?

Feb 9, 5:58AM EST0

We have over 500 designers from 30+ countries using the Nineteenth Amendment platform.  The experience has been amazing - our designers motivate us and inspire us to do more every day. They're the reason Nineteenth Amendment exists. 

Feb 10, 11:18AM EST0

Who are some of the most popular celebrities you’ve worked with? Is it generally more difficult to work with A-list celebrities compared to common citizens?

Feb 9, 3:40AM EST0

I've worked with Ellen DeGeneres, Amal Clooney, Brooke Shields. It's a bit tough to coordinate getting product to A-list celebrities because you work with their team and normally not them directly. The celebrities themselves are awesome and believe in our mission and designers!

Feb 10, 11:15AM EST0

Yes! Designed globally made locally is our vision.

Feb 8, 4:09PM EST1
Show all 3 replies

What is your ultimate goal or dream as a designer? Where do you want to take your brand eventually?

Feb 7, 10:40PM EST0

I think the ultimate goal and sense of accomplishment for a designer happens when you see a stranger walking down the street in your design. I'd love to make that dream happen for every designer on Nineteenth Amendment.

Feb 7, 11:52PM EST0

Has designing improved your life in any way? If so, what important changes has it done so far?

Feb 6, 11:20PM EST0

see below :)

Feb 10, 11:31AM EST0

How would you say technology and fashion could help individuals all around the world?

Feb 6, 11:00PM EST0

I think there's a lot on the manufacturing side that can be bettered to make global manufacturing safer. There's also interesting applications of tech in fashion that can help people with disabilities.

Feb 10, 11:32AM EST0

Has designing improved your life in any way? If so, what important changes has it done so far?

Feb 6, 10:44PM EST0

For me design is life. Design is how you live your life, from cooking food, to the way you create your living environment, to the way you dress yourself. 

Feb 10, 11:31AM EST0

Are you striving to keep helping more brands around the world?

Feb 6, 10:13PM EST0

yes, see below :)

Feb 6, 11:11PM EST0

Are you striving to keep helping more brands around the world?

Feb 6, 9:37PM EST0

Absolutely! 

Feb 6, 9:39PM EST0

What would you say is the path you’d like to keep on within the fashion world?

Feb 6, 9:08PM EST0

I'd like to keep making fashion more authentic, inclusive, transparent, and personal.

Feb 6, 9:16PM EST0

When did you realize you could combine fashion and technology? Was it always your main focus?

Feb 6, 5:48PM EST0

I grew up in Boston and my dad was in tech so it was a world I was exposed to very early in life. When I went into the fashion industry after graduating from Parsons I was appauled by the lack of tech in the industry. Like, really appauled... Hand drawings, light tables, and sticky notes were still a very important and innefficient part of the design industry and on top of that the wholesale business model was breaking! I knew the power of tech and I saw an opportunity to modernize and monetize the fashion industry through tech. I left fashion to join a tech startup in 2011 and learned first hand what a tech startup could do with the same amount of money a fashion brand would use for one runway show. It was then that I saw the possibilty of merging my two worlds to design a better fashion industry through technology.  

Feb 6, 7:43PM EST0

What does the name stand for, how did you come up with it?

Feb 6, 2:55PM EST0

One of the first questions that we get is, “Why Nineteenth Amendment”? Instead of using traditional e-commerce names with “shop,”  “runway,” or “fashion” in the title, we wanted our name to have deeper meaning – because we’re not a traditional e-commerce site. Our goal at Nineteenth Amendment is to give everyone a voice in fashion to participate in the democratization of a largely top-down industry. An “amendment” is a change to an existing structure that once worked but no longer does and the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution granted universal suffrage, giving everyone a voice in democracy. Together we are amending the way that the fashion industry operates:  how designers launch lines, how consumers purchase clothes, and  how we manufacture. We call our fashion conscious shoppers “Amenders” because you are the ones rewriting the future of fashion with each purchase. That’s the story behind Nineteenth Amendment!

Feb 6, 7:46PM EST0

Do you have any interesting hobbies that would like to share?

Feb 6, 2:51PM EST0

TBH I don't have a lot of time for hobbies these days (#startuplife) but when I do have some time I still love to design. I made a piece for Nineteenth Amendment about a year ago when my cofounder Gemma challenged me to design something for my new year's resolution. I also designed my own wedding dress. Right now my mission is helping other designers launch their brands and become successful but someday I'd love to work on my own collection! When that day comes I'll know that I've "made it".

Feb 6, 7:51PM EST0

Did you discover the fashion world by yourself or was it brought to you by someone?

Feb 6, 12:34PM EST0

Fashion is in my DNA. My aunt was vice president of a bridal company called Priscilla of Boston so my earliest memories are of being in her US factory, trying on wedding dresses in her boutique, and interacting with the designers. I was so emersed in fashion from a young age that my first word was, "pretty"! By third grade I had my own collection of W magazines and by 4th grade I had a collection of my own fashion sketches (I still have them!).  I watched my aunt take that company international and eventually exit it. While I am young agewise my experience in the fashion industry makes a fashion veteran. It's an industry I have deep connection with and love for and I feel a personal pull to make it better.

Feb 6, 7:58PM EST1

How is your company going to help undiscovered fashion businesses?

Feb 6, 11:30AM EST0

Nineteenth Amendment gives undiscovered fashion brands a place to be discovered and the tools that they need to operate a sustainable and scalable direct to consumer business. There aren't a lot of places for people to shop independent brands (and with less boutiques and marketplace the options are fewer and fewer!) so we created the NineteenthAmendment.com designer direct marketplace to give people a way to discover and shop fashion that is more personal, beautiful and responsible than anything off the rack. 

Feb 6, 8:00PM EST0

Does your family support you and you career?

Feb 6, 11:05AM EST0

My family is awesome and they've always championed me though they may not have always been comfortable with my choice to pursue entrepreneurship, which it totally ok! Not everyone is risk adverse and I think that's important to realize and accept. I'm very fortunate that they've always supported me and my dreams.

Feb 6, 8:21PM EST0

How far would you like to take your #StilettoStrapping?

Feb 6, 10:49AM EST0

Stiletto strapping is the fashion version of bootstrapping - which is doing the most with the least amount of time, money, and resources. I think #stilettostrapping is a viable buisness model that allows designers at all levels to test and validate product/designs without the risk or resources traditionally required in the old fashion business model. Nineteenth Amendment just partnered with the CFDA so I'm excited to see larger fashion brands adopt stiletto strapping!

Feb 6, 8:04PM EST0

What would you consider to be the big major difference the industry of fashion and design has done since you began working there?

Feb 6, 10:35AM EST0

It's a really exciting time to be in the fashion industy! The fashion industry was resistant to adopting technology but now they have to...and quickly! Due to this need to innovate I've seen a lot more collaboration (something almost unheard of in the industry!) and sharing happening with large brands and retailers. I think there's more room for creativity that transcends beyond the runway. I also think that the playing field has been leveled for new brands. It used to be that funding and connections were what mostly determined a new brand's success. At Nineteenth Amendment we have created a way through tech to let talent and drive be the determing factors of success - and for shoppers to be the ones who make that ultimate decision!

Feb 6, 8:10PM EST0

Fashion continues to reinvent itself but, do you feel it will stop at any certain point in the near future?

Feb 6, 9:39AM EST0

No. I'm glad that the fashion industry is now listening to the consumer and now that that has happened there's no way that evolution can stop. It's refreshing that consumers now have power and I believe it will lead to a better industry. Consumers will drive more transparency, authenticity and personalization in the fashion industry which frankly is long overdue! 

Feb 6, 8:24PM EST0

Have you ever had any other job apart from the fashion world?

Feb 6, 9:06AM EST0

Along with being a designer and working in retail I have: worked in the legal department at an art musuem, worked in video production, been a shoe model, worked as a first hire at a tech saas startup, and I spent one summer in college planting flowers and doing landscape design! I also volunteer and mentor high school girls who want to learn about the tech industry. 

Feb 6, 8:29PM EST0

Has the eCommerce universe helped you and your business? Do you believe industries will continue to move their operations online and completely join the digital era?

Feb 6, 7:50AM EST0

Ecommerce gave Nineteenth Amendment and our designers a way to reach customers without the cost of a brick and mortar store. I believe that all businesses must have an online experience that that's it's very helpful to have a physical presence as well! 

Feb 6, 8:31PM EST0

Do you think everyone can enjoy fashion worldwide?

Feb 6, 1:10AM EST0

I believe that fashion is the most personal and loudest form of self expression. I believe that everyone deserves to be able to express their individual voice and enjoy self expression through fashion. 

Feb 6, 8:14PM EST0

Do you have a web developer in house or did you hire an external company for the site? Do you have an app for it?

Feb 6, 12:27AM EST0

We've developed everything in-house including our on-demand manufacturing platform (shout out to our amazing developers!). We do not currently have an app but we are mobile optimized. 

Feb 6, 8:11PM EST0

Is there any specific brand or designer you’d like to work with?

Feb 5, 5:36PM EST0

I prefer that brands and designers come to us because it means that they're ready to try something different (and better :)!

Feb 6, 8:32PM EST0

What is your biggest achievement regarding this business?

Feb 5, 1:38PM EST0

It's hard to select just one! Honestly, launching a new collection from an independent designer every week is the biggest achievement because it means we're succeeding in our mission!

Feb 6, 8:37PM EST0

How do you plan to make products that are sold and made better for everyone? What kind of products are those?

Feb 5, 11:09AM EST0

Designers on Nineteenth Amendment do not have to hold inventory. Instead all products are made on demand ethically and sustainably in the USA with partner vetter manufacturers. Shoppers get full transparency into the manufacturing process and at the end of 4-6 weeks they have a piece of fashion history in their closet that was made just for them.  This process allows for designers to bring unique product to market, for shoppers to get really personal and purposeful products direct from designers at designer-direct better prices, and for manufacturers in the USA to get a better way to grow and maintain their businesses. 

Feb 6, 9:15PM EST0

What has been the best social network (or other form of advertising) to get clients for the Nineteenth Amendment?

Feb 5, 7:49AM EST0

Any platform that allows us to be personal, visual, and authentic is really good for us.  My cofounder Gemma and I personally do at least one Facebook live video a week because we want to connect authentically with fans and we bring in our designers for interviews for this same purpose. Instagram is awesome for showcasing the amazing  work of our designers and for discovering awesome new brands! 

Feb 5, 7:02PM EST0

Could you mention your most impressive work experiences?

Feb 5, 6:39AM EST0

Working with over 500 fashion designers from 30 countries and helping them realize their dreams definitely tops the list. Also, my cofounder Gemma and I were just named to the National Retail Federation's list of 25 people shaping retail's future in 2018! It's such an honor to be recognized and have our designers recognized by an entire industry. It's also a responsibilty to shape a better future for fashion and lead by example. Other fun highlights:Seeing our designers' work in a window at Macy's Herald Square Elevator pitching Tony Hseih in an actual elevator in Las VegasSending our designer's work to Amal Clooney, Brooke Shields, and Nina Garcia.Raising capital (only 2% of women founders raise venture $...a terrible stat but hopefully my cofounder and I are out to change that!)Getting the first order at Nineteenth Amendment - and then making it with one of our partner US manufacturers! Partnering and working with awesome people at Macy's, Lord & Taylor, Microsoft, Dell, Disney, 1800 Flowers and the CFDA! Seeing our partner US manufacturers grow their businesses and create jobs in the USA after working with Nineteenth Amendment. Hearing from shoppers about their fashion experience at Nineteenth Amendment.Setting up our first solo Nineteenth Amendment pop up on Newbury St in Boston - the same street I spent a lot of my childhood!Dollar oysters with the Nineteenth Amendment team on the 19th day of every month (happy Nineteenth day!)^just a few highlights

Feb 6, 9:02PM EST0

How do you monetize the site, who do you charge?

Feb 5, 4:39AM EST0

We take a small cut of every sale made starting at 10% (one of the lowest for a fashion marketplace) and we charge designers a monthly fee of $19.99 to have access to our manufacturing platform and exclusive designer opportunities. 

Feb 5, 7:00PM EST0

How would you describe New York Fashion Week in a short sentence?

Feb 5, 4:06AM EST0

NYFW is creative celebration, chaos and change.

Feb 6, 9:11PM EST0
How do you pick the brands you work with? What are the criteria?
Feb 4, 9:19PM EST0

Thanks for the questions Brittany! Any brand can get a membership to  Nineteenth Amendment which allows them to use our manufacturing platform and connect with vetted US manufacturers. If a brand wants to apply to sell on our marketplace and get their own studio they submit a collection for review. We determine who can sell based on quality (of photos, story, and overall professionalism) but we do not judge based on personal aesthetic. Nineteenth Amendment is a place for brands to test their designs and for people to discover fashion that speak directly to them. Our name is Nineteenth Amendment because we believe everyone should have a voice in deciding the future of fashion instead of being dictated to.

Feb 5, 6:56PM EST0
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