LCF alumna, Anastasia Tsybina, has launched a digital shopping platform for designer activewear, BUDJ. We interviewed her to hear more about the inspiration behind her new venture and her time here at LCF.
Hi Anastasia! Congratulations for the launch of your new online retailer – BUDJ. How is everything going so far?
Thank you for your kind words! Well, I have to say that launching a business is definitely a wild ride. It hasn’t been the easiest journey, we did encounter some technical issues on the way, and in the areas where we least expected them to pop up, but we finally made it! There is nothing more exciting than seeing your ideas come to life.
Can you tell us a bit more about BUDJ and the ideas behind it?
BUDJ is an inclusive curated online shopping platform for designer activewear. The idea came from a personal dissatisfaction with the other multi-brand activewear shops on the market, so I decided to create an online shopping experience that will offer a well-designed platform, a beautiful selection of brands, a fun experience and also reflect the same values of inclusive, sustainability and sisterhood. The main goal for us is to make our customers feel welcome and make their online shopping a time well spent.
Where did you find the inspiration for this?
I’ve been really inspired by the amazing women disrupting the business world nowadays and their amazing projects, such as Emily Weiss of Glossier, Tyler Haney of Outdoor Voices and many others. They really continue to pave the way for young women in creative businesses and looking up to them has been a great inspiration to not be afraid to step up and create things.
I love the look of the website and how diverse the models are. Was this a conscious decision?
This was a very conscious decision. I love being active, yet I never was and never will be able to fit into the classic type of ‘Instagram influencer who works out’. For me personally, the journey to accept my body has not been the easiest and if there were more body types represented in the media and online shopping platforms I’m sure it would be much less painful.
Making our platform diverse has always been a priority, and as we grow we want to push this even further and make it as inclusive as possible because we really want our customers to be able to relate to what they see when they shop.
Why did you decide to focus on Sportswear?
This came quite naturally to me because being active is a big part of my life and also the sportswear industry keeps growing yet it’s still not a very overcrowded market, so there is still some room to create something that hasn’t been done before.
What are you hoping to achieve within the next 5 years?
We obviously want to start scaling our business from now on and I hope in 5 years we can stock over a 100 brands, but most importantly we want to reinvent the way contemporary online retailers (us included for now) function into a more sustainable direction. We have a few ideas on how we can encourage brands to avoid using plastic for the packaging of each item when it gets to us and other services for our customers to shop more responsibly.
I love the idea of the ‘Gymbag Generator’ – what made you decide to introduce something like that?
There are so many cool things you can do with the internet and coding I think it’s about time we start offering our customers some fun features! The generator was actually quite a challenge to code, but anything is doable when you are determined to make it work and have the right people to rise to the challenge. I felt a little bit bored doing the same mechanic things while shopping online at other stores, so we want to keep introducing even more fun things for our customers to experience, so stay tuned!
Let’s talk a little bit about your time at LCF. Did you always know you wanted to work in fashion?
Yes. I’ve always been into fashion. I did my BA in Graphic Design at CSM and in the 3d year my practice was graphic design for fashion and I knew that this was the perfect niche to both use my skills and work in the field that I loved. Which led me to an MA Fashion Media Production course at LCF and it was the perfect space to keep developing my skills I needed to be where I am right now. The MA course itself was full of ups and downs for me, but I learned so much and met the most amazing people that I’m very lucky to call my friends.
What made you choose LCF and why did you decide to do MA Fashion Media Production?
I have to be honest and say that as we were the first generation on the course, it was really rough around the edges, but it did allow me to try new things out and really dive into more processes like photo and video shoot production that really helped me with my future jobs and BUDJ as well.
The main idea of MA Fashion Media Production is to raise a multi skilled professional for the industry, and honestly I feel like an orchestra woman right now.
Not only me and my business partner Lisa handle all the business side of things, we also build the platform and create content to fill it in with our own hands, and it’s A LOT of things to do, but having a diverse set of skills allowed us to create a well designed web space and from scratch with limited funding.
According to your experiences along your career, what piece of advice would you give to a recent graduate looking to start their own online business?
Don’t be scared to screw things up, it’s a part of the process, nobody gets it right from the first try. And also never start any venture just for the sake of starting a venture. Being an entrepreneur is a very glamorous concept, but bear in mind that you will have to wake up and go to sleep with this project for a good number of years, so unless you believe in it 100% even when everything goes downhill, you won’t go very far.