Hi Anne. FEM-START is happy to be speaking with you today. Tell us, What inspired you to start your own business? What drove you to start Feelou?
My background is in impact investing, more specifically circular investing. When I was building a circular fund, I spoke to a lot of circular entrepreneurs and I met Noor in the process. I joined Feelou in 2022 as a co-founder, I recognized the problem that Noor was trying to solve, namely a bra that fits well for 9+ months when you are pregnant. I struggled to find the right bra myself when I was pregnant and it seemed to be destiny, so Noor and I built Feelou from the ground up. Additionally, the sustainability component was important to me. As a society, we consume excessively and I believe it is important to buy less, especially what we do not need. It is incredibly overlooked to make changes in our consumption patterns with our clothing, in terms of both emissions and labor. We tried to solve this issue by building this circular bra.
What are some of the most essential steps and actions you took to get your business off the ground?
As soon as I came on board, I thought it was fundamental to start selling as soon as possible. This way you can validate your product very early onwards and grow or adjust. We got to know our customer base very well when we opened our webshop and started to get our first paid-orders! Don’t be afraid to try new things, it will never go as planned and setbacks will happen. Embrace the journey!
How did you build your customer base and grow your business?
I would say that starting early on and starting small was a good way to build our business. In addition, I think it’s important to avoid stalling big decisions and keep moving forward. In the first month I was on board, we became incorporated, filed for patent and started and started selling.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you made along the way, and what did you learn from them?
A mistake we made with Feelou was choosing the wrong supplier. We invested a lot of time and money to building our partnership with this particular supplier, but it was not the quality we were looking for. It was a large loss and we were out of stock, which meant we could not sell. What we learned from it, was that our product looks simple, but technically it’s a piece of art. Now, we found the perfect atelier in Portugal. The seamstresses need at least an 1 hour per bra, that is equal to haute couture garments. We value the quality and sustainable component, which is what we want to give to our customers.
What is your biggest achievement since co-founding the company, and how did you get there?
Our proudest achievement is the validation that our product is adding value for women. And it is not just concerning pregnant women, we have many customers with menopause as well who find value in our product., In terms of commercial success, we have sold out twice since launching in October 2022. I am also so proud we won The Hague Innovation Award this year, it really is humbling!
What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs, particularly those who do not believe they can do it?
First, if you don’t believe you can do it, don’t start. Nobody else will build your business. It takes drive and grit, and everything happening comes from your actions, so you need to persevere. Second, you won’t succeed if your doubts take over, so start validating early. You need to believe what you’re doing and by validating your value add, you will grow in confidence! Third, avoid losing yourself in operational urgent stuff. Always keep your eyes on the next big thing, and it can’t be big enough :).
What’s next for Feelou? Anything we can look forward to?
In 2024, we will enter our expansion phase by strengthening our position in Belgium and then make our first moves to Germany. Until now we were scaling so it was important to expand in other countries. We also have operational plans to come out with a new colour as well, so stay tuned! We also are planning to organise and hosts events to build our community and include our audience in ambassador’s programmes, showcasing our products! We are very excited about the new year.
If you would like to know more about Anne’s company Feelou, click here!