Syama Meagher [pronounced: Sha-ma] is a retail strategist and a social entrepreneur. An expert on the business side of the fashion industry from previous gigs at Barney’s, Gucci, Ann Taylor, and Macy’s, Syama now runs a merchandising consultancy Scaling Retail. She also teaches Fashion Merchandising at FIDM. Syama loves working with social enterprises and wants to make it possible for the little guys to learn from the big dogs. She makes a series of videos offering tools, insights, and resources in a really accessible way to fashion startups. Check out some of her videos here and below the jump! Recently, Syama was selected to lead a roundtable discussion for Women CEOs at an American Express Open Forum CEO BootCamp. I caught up with Syama to ask her about the awesome work she’s churning out.
You wear a bunch of [presumably super cute and fashionable] different hats – professor, consultant, CEO mentor – can you elaborate on what you do in your various roles?
The best way to describe what I do is boss people around, and I mean that in both the way that made you smile right now when I said that, and seriously. All of these roles distill down to taking my years of experience in fashion, retail and business and helping people make the best decisions for their business. Some clients call me their secret weapon, my students at FIDM call me a pain in the butt. After all, it takes a particular kind of mind to take a $50M business and turn it into $100M, and I am proud to say I have that mind, at least brands like Gucci, Barneys and the brands I have worked with think so!
What impact do you hope to make through your work?
The Big guys / Big Brands know how to make money. I want to help those creatives and small business peeps learn from the big guys and create sustainable businesses in holistic ways (big guys don’t do this one very well). Simply put I promote non exploitive business models, and see that as the future.
What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone who has an idea for a startup (fashion or not)?
Your product may evolve over time, you may think you know your customer, but in reality what you think you know will change and evolve. Keep an open mind, and remember when you create a business you are taking on the responsibility to be an expert in your customer.
Read more on “Hub LA Member Syama Meagher Brings Big Brand Strategies to SocEnt Fashion Startups” »
Community is the feeling of camaraderie with others because of shared values or interests, and plus is the myriad skills and diverse perspectives collectively harnessed for good. Community+ is Hub LA.
Community is the foundation for everything we are working toward. It’s the basis for meaningful collaborations and meaningful impact. I asked some members to share their “pluses” and made a video using them. It was so fun to see how members interpreted the offerings of the Hub LA community so differently. When we put it all together, though, it became clear how Hub LA isn’t just one thing, how the community fosters a curiosity about stories, a desire to collaborate, a new way to think about businesses and the resources available to you.
There are still so many “pluses” that we have yet to hear.
Share with us! Send email@example.com your Community+ _______ photo or, better yet, come into Hub LA and take one! We love videos too!
The Community+ campaign runs for 100 days – April 2 – July 2. During this time, we’re offering special promo rates for new members. Check them out, along with our brand new membership level, Hub Professional. It’s a better time than ever to join the community – just in time to welcome the summer with an end-of-campaign rooftop party for Hub LA members.
Photo lovers, beach visitors, social enterprise supporters: be sure to visit Hub LA and Red Pipe’s photography exhibition “Silent Waves” between April 5 and April 19!
Douglas I. Busch is a renowned photographer whose work has appeared at the Getty Museum, LACMA, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, among others. In this new exhibition, he explores light, color, and form through the digital medium – a marked transition for the artist who had previously been working with large format cameras. His stunning photographs in “Silent Waves” capture the ethereal sensation of watching waves roll in – that misty movement, the constantly changing light. Revealing the power of photography to distill moments of ever changing beauty, Busch’s work shows us how profoundly elemental yet completely complex the world around us – and representing that world through art – can be. Read more on ““Silent Waves” Photo Exhibit Makes a Splash at Hub LA & Red Pipe Gallery” »
Get revved up for Month of the Food Trucks!
We love our weekly community lunch time at Hub LA. Every Wednesday at 12:30ish, we take a few minutes away from our computers, put our work on pause, and meet members of the Hub LA community – new and old. It’s casual, but often spurs new collaborations and friendships.
For the month of April, we’ve decided to spice things up a bit during community lunch hours. We’ve arranged for food trucks to swing by the Hub LA parking lot (at 830 Traction Ave) between 12:30 and 3pm. Enjoy the springtime sun and the great Hub LA company, as well as a delicious lunch.
So pencil these dates in and save your packed lunches for Thursday!
Wednesday, April 2: Vizzi Truck
Wednesday, April 9: Sky’s Taco Truck
Wednesday, April 16: India Jones
Wednesday, April 23: Reuben Truck
Wednesday, April 30: Earlez Grille
When you visit Hub LA, you’re likely to spot Neeraj Kapoor scribbling unintelligible math equations on our whiteboard walls. Neeraj and his business partner Stephen Chen founded Learn to Be, an online tutoring service that offers 24-hour, completely free services. I caught up with Neeraj to learn a little more about the work he’s doing and who else from the community he’s been working with on his various projects.
What is Learn to Be? How did you come up with the idea for it?
Learn To Be a 501c.3 non-profit organization dedicated to providing 100% free, 1-on-1 online tutoring to students everywhere. My co-founder, Stephen Chen, and I came up with the idea about 4 years ago.
Learn To Be revolves around two main programming areas:
i. Providing a 100% free, on-demand service for students who readily have access to the internet. This is for students who are grappling with a homework problem and can’t seem to solve it or need a refresher for an upcoming exam. We have 600 volunteer tutors scattered nationwide that respond to these on-demand requests based on their availability throughout the week.
ii. Partnering with schools that are in underserved communities. We target students who don’t access to the internet at home and provide ether with our online tutoring up to 3 times a week. We work with school administrators to isolate key deficiencies in these students so we can help them catch up and thrive in school.
To date, we’ve hosted over 23,000 tutoring sessions for over 13,000 hours of academic service given by our tutors. And all this with a 100% volunteer staff! Read more on “Startup with a Side of Curing Cancer” »
Got a startup? Maybe just an idea that’s been brewing in your head for some time? Hub LA is adding a new resource to our roster of business development tools: Startup Workshops hosted by Startups Unplugged Advisory founder and Hub LA member Paul Orlando.
Paul Orlando is something of a startup guru. He’s the founder of Startups Unplugged Advisory, which helps startups grow, and he also co-founded AcceleratorHK, a mobile startup accelerator. He has unique experience consulting with startups, as he most recently helped Hong Kong develop its startup ecosystem. Paul, along with Chris Mendez and Diego Prats, hosts the extremely popular Tech Startups and Development Office Hour program every Saturday.
We know LA’s got a bustling startup scene with a ton of innovative, new ideas. This workshop offers something a little special that we don’t think you’ll be able to find at any ol’ Gathering of the Startups. At these two workshops, focusing on Minimum Viable Products and your Business Model Canvas, you’ll learn how to best incorporate social impact into your business. It’s 2014! Your consumers, especially millennials, want to support businesses that are working in socially innovative and impactful ways. The truth is, you’re probably a “high impact entrepreneur” and you don’t even know it yet.
The first workshop is Saturday, March 29. Bring your laptop and get ready for a hands-on tutorial on all things Minimal Viable Product. At this MVP workshop, Paul will cover different types of MVPs, how to collect data and design MVP experiments, which metrics you should use, and he’ll give you examples of successful MVPs. More info on that workshop here.
The second workshop is on Saturday, April 26. This one covers the Business Model Canvas, a tool that helps you think through your business and how it’s serving your customers. Learn more about the tool and how other businesses have (or have not!) thought through their business models. Learn more about this April workshop here.
The other nice thing? These are super affordable workshops. 4 hours each, $30 for Hub LA members, and $59 for non-members. Bring your laptops and get your business going!
Register for the workshops here.
Are you interested in the sharing economy? Have a crowdfunding project you’re looking to launch and wondering what platforms to use or how to prepare? We’re excited to share that we are beginning a collaborative program this month to provide the casual and conversational skill sharing you’re looking for. Open Forum: Crowdfunding will cover the ins and outs of crowdfunding platforms, best practices, and trends.
This isn’t your typical boring panel; this is a conversation hosted by member experts and Hub LA staff to cover what you’re looking to learn and share. You’ll chat with representatives from various crowdsource and financing platforms in the Hub LA network: Crowdrise, Seed&Spark, CreatorUp, and Crowdfunder.
Read more on “Open Forum: Share & Learn About Crowdfunding” »
This Thursday, March 6, we’re working with our friends at Conscious Magazine to gather LA’s social entrepreneurs, innovators, and all those passionate about communities that make a difference. Conscious, based in New York, is visiting Los Angeles to prepare for its upcoming California issue, set to come out in the Spring.
This month we’ve been looking at how Hub LA members are innovating in the food sector. When we heard about Chris Maloney’s startup real foods farmacy, we were instantly excited. Real foods farmacy develops small healthy grocery stores in fitness centers. We sent Chris some questions to learn more about his interest in healthy lifestyles and doing socially conscious work.
Describe your company, real foods farmacy, and how you got the idea to start it up.
The idea for real foods farmacy came from my family’s (my wife, 3 kids & yours truly) not so easy transition to a healthy & sustainable lifestyle. The transition was really hard work, and at some point in the journey we realized that you can’t buy health in one location and thought it would be great if you could.
Given where we are as a society – global obesity epidemic, at least 60% of us in the U.S. are overweight, etc. – we thought there was value in making living, or transitioning to, a healthy lifestyle simple. So we set out to create a place that folks could go and buy health.
After looking at a few models, we decided to develop real foods farmacy, a small footprint natural & organic grocery store for fitness centers. The thought being that if real food and smart exercise are the major components of health, why don’t we just put them together and make living – or transitioning to – a healthy lifestyle simple.
Our beta store has been open over a year, has done exceptionally well and as a result, we are taking the concept to the next level and expanding. Read more on “Hub LA Member Real Foods Farmacy Makes One-Stop-Shops for Health” »
Last night, we hosted our third member meeting at Hub LA for members to hear about upcoming programs and initiatives, new partnerships as well as to offer a safe space for how we can improve the community.
We heard from a few of our member committees working on projects that our community has previously expressed interest in developing. Perhaps most importantly, our Rooftop Committee informed us that roof development is chugging along – they’re deep-diving into the LA building codes and working with the city and with contractors to ensure we can get permits in the coming weeks. In April, they will host an Open Forum for the community to envision how we will use our roof. According to Elizabeth, we will be able to use our roof by the end of our community building campaign (see below), in June. From your lips, to the roof-God’s ears, Elizabeth!