INTERVIEW: SPEAKING WITH INESSA RADOSTIN ON HOW TO BE PRODUCTIVE -TORONTO STARTUP FASHION WEEK 2018
Inessa Radostin is a woman who has her shit together—seriously. As the founder of Mod Mode Designs, a line of luxe stationery, pens and planners, she’s in the business of being organized. On top of that, she is a creative director at ChizComm, a blogger for her site, Coconut Ringlets and an avid viewer of all things Netflix. Oh and she’s also starting a school with her business partner, where you can learn how to be just as productive. So it’s no wonder that Toronto’s Startup Fashion Week had her speak about productively planning and launching a successful business during their Wednesday night panel. Startup Fashion Week is entering its fifth year as a platform for new brands to showcase their work. The week included its buzzy launch party, inspiring talks from industry professionals, a night of discussion on gender diversity in fashion and capped off with a runway show. Wednesday night’s Business of Fashion panel included discussions about how to effectively market your new brand, how to properly fund it and how to stand out in the small Canadian fashion community. We sat down with Radostin to discuss how she launched her own successful business and to pick her brain on how to become a more productive person.
How did you get started with Mod Mode?
It was a weird transition there. So originally Mod Mode started off as a jewellery thing. It was just for myself so yeah, it was on Etsy. I just got bored and I was working for the Shopping channel at the time and I just was not doing anything creative so I was like I need something like an outlet to do for myself so I did that for a little bit, and that turned into me wanting to figure out my scheduling. So I started planning and the more I did it, I realized oh my god, I love doing this stuff. So people started asking where I got stuff and I was like oh, I made it. I sold like shaker dashboards, which is like the cheesiest looking thing—there was glitter all over the house. So yeah people started asking about them so I thought, ok I’ll list a couple on the Etsy shop. And they just started flying! So I was at home, going to work and coming back to make these dashboards like a child. So that transitioned to a sticker shop and I just kept adding things and sourcing stuff. Then I started going off of Etsy and I was like I’m going to make my own agendas and my boyfriend came on to help out as well—so we’re both doing other stuff as well. So we got our own site started and that was the beginning of that and it worked hand in hand with my blog and Youtube. Really when it comes to online, everything is pushed through those channels, so in the beginning I was just talking shit about planners for hours on end. From there we started collaborating with people and after that someone caught onto it and now he’s my business partner and now we’re starting an online school. It’s starting next week. He has a marketing background and I have a design background, so the school will be through Udemy, then the rest will be brand design for companies and we’ll help other nonprofits and companies to do their own schools. We were like we know about stuff, we should share it.
Did you expect the company to grow like this?
No, not at all! I was just having fun making earrings and jewellery and then I was like, eh, I’m over this. It was fun but agendas and planning and sourcing materials—that was what I was doing my whole life, sourcing materials to be part of bigger things. I had no idea that this would be a whole thing.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
To have direction and not to do too much. I have a lot of new puppy mentality sometimes where it’s just like—it worked out when the jewellery started and the the planners and agendas became the new puppy. But a lot of times, like even recently I was like hey I love these big blankets I‘ve been seeing and thought I should try to make those and we can do something different with the business. So Scott, my boyfriend, and my business partner had to come in and be like ‘ok, you don’t need this right now, ok? You’re dying enough as it is and will this even fit your current venues?’ and I thought about it and obviously no, so it was just me doing too much and I had to narrow it down.
What’s the biggest challenge in starting your own business?
Honestly, it’s funding. I think a lot of times people don’t like to talk about finance a lot. Having some sort of funding and really bootstrapping your business. So I’ve learned that a little bit. Even now with starting the academy, my business partner was like, let’s do this and let’s buy this and I’m like let me learn from my lessons with Mod Mode where I bought all those supplies like jewellery and the shaker dashboards—there’s still glitter packs in the house. We don’t even make those anymore, there still sitting there. Because I was so excited that I just wanted to buy everything without having tested the market and calculating what you actually need. Really using the business to fund the business.
As a female entrepreneur, I’m sure you know how hard it is to launch your own business—women led businesses only secured 2.2% of venture capital last year. Why do you think it’s important for women to continue to push forward and launch their own businesses?
To be someone’s wife and mother is not everyone’s dream, in fact it’s less women’s dream. Men stay home now to look after the kids—you don’t even have to have kids. So if you don’t have that and that’s not what your driving force is, to just not start your business, work for someone else, have a steady paycheck and a glimpse of a beautiful life–to be honest, not going to happen. You’re never going to get that and if you do, if there’s an ounce of anything you might want to do, you’ll be bored as hell. So what’s the point? Why not be in control of your own life. Why would you work for somebody else, I would think. And now it’s great, because entrepreneurship is on a huge rise and it’s all small businesses, so why wouldn’t you hop on to that. What’s stopping you? Is it that you have a partner that you need to work it out with and talk to? And if they’re not on board with that, then fuck ‘em! Just do it for yourself, try. I think it’s important for everybody, but yes women especially. There’s no more 50’s housewife—you’re expected to work, so why not work for yourself?
As someone who’s in the business of being put together, what tips do you have for scatterbrains like me to get organized?
Start writing everything down. Stop relying on your phone. It’s easy to be like oh my Google calendar will tell me, but you’d be surprised. Your brain is not trained to process that information, as much as it is when it repeats something. It’s a repetitive thing, a psychological thing, so if you write something down, you’re more likely to remember things. So definitely write stuff down. Start organizing regularly and make time weekly to go through all the notes and crap in your house and actually categorize. Give priorities to things, so you’re not just like I have to do this, I have to do it now—you might not need to do it now, it could wait. Make the most out of your time. And prioritize your me time. It’s really easy—especially if you’re an entrepreneur—to work into the wee hours, but unless you have a big launch coming up, that is never necessary. If you’re ahead of time, if you proactively plan out your days, your weeks, your hours, you will be done by 6 and you won’t have to work weekends.
What are binging on Netlfix right now?
I’m catching up on Blacklist—it’s really good. But there’s 23 freaking episodes per season and there’s five seasons, but it’s really good. I’m also trying to watch all the Marvel stuff, I watched Troll Hunters recently—like I’ll literally watch kid stuff, anything. There’s so much.
Written by Robyn Bell