Living between two cities meant that Vanessa Gomes’s wardrobe was in chaos, but her solution set the platform for a thriving business
Like many young entrepreneurs, Cambridge Judge Business School Master of Finance alumna Vanessa Gomes’s idea was sparked by her experiences at the School. But her flash of inspiration came to her not in a presentation or a discussion, but in her college room.
“I was living in a very small dormitory while I was studying at Cambridge Judge and travelling a lot between Brazil, where I’m from, and Cambridge,” she explains. “I was wasting so much time packing and unpacking. I just didn’t know what clothes I had and even ended up buying the same things twice. My wardrobe space was tiny and so my clothes would end up inside my bag or in a huge pile on my bed. I’m an economist – I don’t like to waste time! So I thought: why not design a platform that enables women like me to manage their clothes?”
The result? Alice’s Wardrobe, a free-to-use fashion platform that enables you to digitise and visually organise your wardrobe. Fashionistas can organise their clothes and accessories, create their own looks and decide what to pack with minimum fuss. Brazil has one of the world’s highest proportion of social media users, so sharing looks and tips with friends is an essential component in the mix. Personal stylists can also use it for their clients. The platform launched in December 2013, in both Portuguese and English. Feedback so far, says Vanessa, has been excellent.
Vanessa’s background is in investment management (macro and equity research); in Brazil, she also worked at international chemical giant BASF, participating in a leadership programme that enabled her to work across all sectors of the organisation, including finance, strategy, marketing to supply chain. After BASF purchased two companies in Germany, she participated in their integration projects.
It was such great experience, as it enabled me to actually get to know how a company operates, how it integrates, and how different sectors communicate with each other,” she says. “But I always wanted to return to studying and focus more on finance, which is why I went to Cambridge Judge Business School in 2011 to do my master’s degree in finance. My husband studied at Cambridge and, when I visited, I absolutely loved it. The programme was fantastic and helped me think in so many different ways.
Setting up Alice’s Wardrobe, however, has been a completely new experience. The lot of an employee within a multinational is very different to the working life of an entrepreneur. Vanessa’s partner deals with the technology side, while she has taken on “almost everything else! Marketing, HR, public relations, finance, sales negotiation – I have developed so many different skillsets and learned so much along the way. It’s incredibly exciting and there is so much potential.”
Her advice to would-be entrepreneurs looking for that big idea? Widen your horizons. “I didn’t consider becoming an entrepreneur while I was living in Brazil,” she points out. “I think that living abroad opens your mind. If you have any kind of entrepreneurial gene inside you, meeting people from other cultures and experiencing culture shock will bring it out.”
Vanessa is interested in hearing from…
…people who might want to work or invest in a start-up, who work hard, are passionate about everything they do and think they would make good partners.