March 8th marks the annual International Women’s Day. This is a day to celebrate women’s achievements as well as remind ourselves to always seek opportunities to eliminate gender bias and improve equality for all. This year’s theme is entitled “Choose to Challenge.” Just as the courageous women who chose to challenge the status-quo for gender parity before us, we must continue to choose to challenge for the women of tomorrow.
For us here at ectu, this year’s “Choose to Challenge” theme truly resonates. We’d like to take a moment to share with you some of the challenges we’ve overcome, both on a personal and professional level, in the hope that it helps you make that choice to challenge those that say “you can’t” so you may forge ahead and achieve your dreams.
Overcoming Adversity to Enter the Market
Silly us. After deciding to start our business we made the bit announcement to family, friends, and colleagues we thought we’d get an enthusiastic thumbs up. Geesh, were we surprised when from the get-go the folks whom we thought would be our biggest supporters said time and again –
“Too much competition, you won’t make it!”
“Stick to your day job, how would you ever compete with established brands?”
“Just work for a fashion house or be the middleman instead of starting your own brand.”
Sure, our friends and colleagues meant well. They didn’t want us to fail and be disappointed. What we were ready to commit to was risky. We didn’t have the capital or funding enjoyed by larger companies.
But we had brains and an unshakable belief in ourselves. We knew there was an opportunity in the affordable luxury travel bag market. Even though our allies didn’t recognize it, that didn’t mean the opportunity wasn’t there.
Unfortunately, it’s very common for women who work in male-dominated industries to be seen as something of a novelty. This creates a lack of social and professional support, even if all you’re looking for is a bit of encouragement from friends and colleagues.
We were both lucky and prepared. Not only did we have a solid business background, we also had one another and was able to parlay one another’s strengths into building a new brand. We weren’t interested in being the middlemen. Our mission was to create authentic products from start to finish. That way, we could control our supply chain at every step of the process. Were we ballsy? Yep, but calculating as well.
Testing the Industry Standard
Have you noticed that there are so many products out there in the luxury travel bag space that look surprisingly similar to one another? Many brands follow this simple recipe – take an existing product that has legs, tweak it to make it their own, and market it as if it’s an original concept.
Here’s how we challenged this industry standard.
In the design process stage, we labor for months – as long as it takes - to create something original and beautiful. We proudly discuss the thought process and the story behind every detail as often as possible.
Businesswomen Travel Too!
In addition to challenging the industry design process, we decided to take on what has until recently been a male-targeted market audience. Traditionally, males dominated the workforce. However, times have changed and now more women than ever are career oriented. Of course, this means that more women are traveling for work. Before ectu, leather travel bags were only made for businessmen. We knew women were also in the 9-5 set and deserve stunning leather travel bags with a feminine look and feel. Afterall, women are not simply smaller men, right?
Timeless Beauty and Function Vs. Seasonality
And finally, we chose to challenge the trend in the fashion world with its seasonal collections. There is absolutely zero reason to swap out a perfectly functional and beautiful bag because it’s not the latest fashion.
For us, simple sophistication is timeless. That’s why we don’t believe in creating seasonal collections just for the sake of it. In fact, many of those seasonal products end up being massively discounted post- season and ultimately end up in the landfill. Instead, we focus our energies in creating classic, high-quality pieces that last a lifetime. Our goal is for ectu pieces to be legacy pieces, passed down from mother to daughter.
We’re beyond proud that despite the countless challenges women face, us women have developed the confidence and solidarity to persevere. Today, we invite you to join us in celebrating female achievement and calling for an inclusive and equitable world for all genders.
Share with us how you choose to challenge and inspire others along the way!