Student Spotlight: Lauren Finn wins the London Venture Crawl Pitch-off
BA Fashion Contour student, Lauren Finn, last week represented LCF and won the London Venture Crawl Pitch-off for her sustainable lingerie product Dear Planet Intimates! Running annually, the London Venture Crawl is one of the biggest entrepreneurial student events, and open to participants from across all UK Universities.
This year saw a dramatic change in the format of the event due to current restrictions, so the whole event was hosted online providing students with a range of live and pre-recorded activities. LCF is a key collaborator in the London Venture Crawl and supplied content from the DeFINE Project, LCF Graduate Futures Team and hosted a live webinar with emotional branding consultancy Project M. Graduate Futures also introduced the first in a series of 'Inside the Industry' events; a collection of panel discussions featuring a range of industry trailblazers, practitioners and opinion makers. The discussion focused on enterprise, featuring a wide selection of entrepreneurs from across the fashion sector, and was chaired by Professor Roni Brown, Head of London College of Fashion and Pro Vice Chancellor University of the Arts London.
Frances Odell, part of the LCF Graduate Futures team noted that “by going digital in 2021 with the Venture Crawl we saw a 600% increase in bookings from last year as it allowed more students and graduates to engage.”
The event culminated in a livestreamed, interuniversity pitching competition. This is the second year an LCF student has won this prestigious pitch-off, we caught up with Lauren to see how she was feeling after her success.
How did you find the Venture Crawl?
This was my second time attending the Venture Crawl, I went along to the physical bus tour last year and loved the experience. My favourite thing about being an entrepreneur is networking and the Venture Crawl is the perfect place to do that. Meeting and interacting with like minded people as well as getting a chance to connect with knowledgeable individuals within the field of entrepreneurship is invaluable. Having the opportunity to virtually communicate with other universities is very unique to the Venture Crawl and having the chance to network with them is a great way to not just learn but expose my brand.
It was slightly different this year with the Venture Crawl being virtual but I personally found this enabled the day to be more tailored to my specific needs. There was multiple talks on at the same time and therefore I could choose what I found most relevant to myself and where my brand is right now.
The sessions were also recorded so if I felt that if I had missed a key point or wanted to attend more than one talk that was scheduled at the same time then I could easily go back and re-watch. The opportunity to choose the session most relevant to me kept the whole day engaging and inspiring.
How did it feel when you had to pitch first out of all the Universities?
It definitely threw me off! In fact I messed up my pitch slightly because I wasn’t prepared for my name to be called first. If I am being honest it made me more nervous because I knew I had to make a bigger impact in order for the audience and judges to remember my brand. There was 11 pitches to come after mind so if I didn’t make a massive impact I may have been forgotten. I also did not know the tone of the other pitches, when pitching I like to add a bit of humour or personality… in pitching workshops I have attended I have often been told people buy into you as well as the brand but I wasn’t sure if the other pitches would have more of a serious tone. The benefit however was that once my pitch was over I could relax and not worry that my name was going to be called next.
How did it feel to win?
Everyone's pitches were amazing, I was so certain I knew who the winner was going to be and it defiantly was not me!!! The validation of winning, knowing that other people believe in your idea is such an amazing feeling. I have put so much time, effort, money, passion and emotion into building Dear Planet so to win reassured me that it is all worth it. COVID has isolated me and while I can chat with my friends, my mentor or graduate futures I am often working by myself. Therefore I am not given the constant validation that I am on the right path, so achievements like this motivate me to keep going.
This was my second time pitching in-front of an audience, this was the biggest audience out of the two and while it was virtual I was very aware how many people where watching. To win really boosted my confidence in pitching!
So, tell us more about your business Dear Planet!
Dear Planet is a zero waste lingerie brand. Lingerie that decomposes in the ground, a plant pot or compost bin… you can even put it in your green bin. Regular lingerie takes at least 200 years, if ever, to begin to break down but Dear Planet lingerie takes as little as one year. UK landfills are set to be full in the UK by 2022 so this is very relevant problem, and so to take any waste away from landfills is a huge pressure relief. Once landfills are full where will our waste go?
Dear Planet also pioneers for ethical and transparent business structures. It relies on a business with consumer structure, showing them where the products are made, where the products originate from, the consumers choose the colours, the mood, the designs. Consumers are demanding more from brands and Dear Planet has given them the power the deserve.
What encouraged you to focus on the sustainable side of the industry?
The decision to make Dear Planet sustainable was driven by my passion for zero waste living within my personal life. I couldn’t see my own personal values align with any current lingerie brand on the market and so instead of adjusting my values to fit within an existing brand, I decided to make one that fitted me perfectly.
Further to this I feel sustainability is becoming more and more of a ‘trend’ lead within brands and I wanted to break this stereotype. Fashion needs to become sustainable because it enables profitability and not so much because of a passion. I am hopeful that my passion, strong values and determination will enable the growth of Dear Planet once it launches in September 2021.