The room was brimming with eager and bold talent at the closing runway show of Toronto’s first Startup Fashion Week (SFW) in October of 2014. SFW was hosting talent and innovation wearable technologies from across Canada and the States, including stand-out products like Heddoko, the wearable fitness coach, and Beacon and Lively, the elegant bracelet that doubled as a notification wearable that connects to smartphones. Beyond fashion, the three-day event focused on entrepreneurship and innovation, highlighting women’s careers in the fast-paced world of fashion and its merging with technology. The event seemed to ask the question: What is the future of fashion?
Flurt had the opportunity to meet with leaders in the field of tech and fashion, including SFW founder Jodi Goodfellow, eLuxe (Canada’s original online retailer) Development Manager Erin Lubelsky and Veronica Becker who co-founded the most fashionable wearable technology company we have seen to date, Beacon & Lively.
Beacon & Lively is a design company committed to ‘putting technology in its place,’ that is, out of sight and non-invasive. With our growing reliance on connective technologies, it’s near impossible to sit through a social gathering or engagement without hearing ones phone go off, a tweet come in or an email received. Beacon & Lively have designed the go-to fashionable answer for this invasive problem: The Beacon & Lively bracelet. The stylish bracelet allows wearers to download an app that controls the bracelet. Users then assigned colors and vibrations (settings) to their most important alerts. When a call comes in from your partner while your in a meeting, the Beacon & Lively bracelet shines a dim blue. With a single tap, the call is sent to your voicemail and you continue your meeting uninterrupted. Fashion? Technology? Yes.
Flurt: What is the inspiration behind Beacon and Lively?
Veronica Becker: Like most good ideas, our story started in a bar. I was wearing a dress and carrying a tiny clutch bag on a night out. As most women know, no pockets means your phone is out on the table or in your bag. Consequently, I kept opening my purse to check on my phone. It’s disruptive and rude, so my friends and I started brainstorming about what would be a more polite way to stay connected. The solution had to be something simple that women would actually want to wear, something that would integrate with our personal style and not scream ‘tech’. We formed a team that included a jewelry designer and a mechanical engineer. After many iterations we had jewelry cast bracelets to show off and wear around town. Before we added any technology, we wanted validation that women would want to wear our accessory, even if it wasn’t connected to their phone.
F: What are your professional goals for B&L?
VB: I want to show that wearable tech can come in a stylish, comfortable form that easily fits into a woman’s everyday life. We are also looking at other applications for our technology that will help people minimize disruption by “putting technology in its place.”
F: What are your personal goals for B&L?
VB: Establish a business in our hometown of Philadelphia. To leverage the growing tech/creative/fashion environment here.
F: What has your career journey been like thus far?
VB: My experience to date has been with big companies, many levels of management with global reach. Beacon & Lively is a passion project – made up of a dedicated team working nights and weekends. No matter the company size, I have a strong foundation of client service, account management and have learned how to present to clients, generate proposals, and negotiate deals. Now my new journey is about learning the consumer, fashion and wearable tech markets.
F: What have you found to be empowering about your journey/the launch of B&L?
VB: The ability to transfer your skills – communication, customer service, sales translate in any business setting. It is inspiring to meet other entrepreneurs in the start-up community who provide support, resources, advice – it is a great morale booster.
F: What have been some struggles you have faced as a woman working in technology?
VB: For me it’s less about gender and more about keeping up with the pace of technology. Learning new skills in regards to social media, website, customer management takes time and needs to be done 24/7. Balancing work and family is a huge challenge. It’s why I feel so passionate about Beacon & Lively!
F: What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs around the globe?
VB: Take advantage of the wide variety of networking events, meet ups, conferences and mentors. When interacting in those settings, be the ambassador for your company – you never know when you will meet a future partner or friend.
F: Where do you see fashion moving in the next few years with the inception and gaining popularity of wearable tech?
VB: Incorporating technology into fashion – high tech fabrics, more thoughtful design around devices, fashion that discretely accommodates headphones, power sources and lights.
F: Do you think wearable tech is a fad or something that will stick around? Why or why not?
VB: I believe it is here to stay and it will become more seamlessly integrated in terms of profiles around work, health, lifestyle, commerce and fitness. At the end of the day, we have all become so dependent on our devices, I hope to see more offerings like ours which help to simplify your relationship with technology without sacrificing functionality or fashion.
Find out more about Startup Fashion Week in our Winter 2014 issue in December.