eCommerce Entrepreneur Promotes Positive Body Image
Nothing comes easy and the same is true with success. In fact, success is often a product of failure. There is even a Japanese proverb saying "fall seven times, stand up eight." Sam Sisakhti, founder and CEO of UsTrendy.com, had been rejected by 152 potential investors before finally building one of the largest Internet retailers with 500,000 fashions uploaded, connecting 20,000 independent designers with a million followers and becoming one of the top five fastest growing e-tailers. However, his persistence and business success are not even the most inspiring part of his story. Let me tell you the best part.
His start-up blossomed in 2010 after Sisakhti convinced American venture capitalist Tim Draper, who is known for his investments mostly in Skype, Tesla, and Hotmail, to invest in his online fashion business. Then, the young successful entrepreneur had realized that “many teen girls are up against unobtainable social standards placed upon them which are not just unhealthy, but often times unaffordable.” In recognition of this issue, he thought it was time for UsTrendy.com to give back. To that point, he launched The Believe in Yourself Project to provide thousands of dresses to underprivileged girls and young women around the country to wear to their school dances and other occasions as they could not otherwise afford them.
CMS-Connected reached out Sam Sisakhti to inquire about the endeavor, and here’s what he had to say: “The Believe In Yourself Project is dedicated to the gainful advancement and empowerment of young women with a gift of confidence. It is the belief of our organization that every young woman should feel confident regardless of her physicality or financial circumstance. The aim is to promote a positive body image and healthy self-esteem among young women at an early age, empowering these young girls to feel good about themselves and to take on active social roles within their school communities.”
In order to sell on the UsTrendy website, designers have to send samples for a quality check. In the past, the company used to just give them out to bloggers or celebrities. Then they realized, “Why don’t we put these to good use?” When we asked him of ways to contribute to this project, he said that they are looking for retailers to donate new dresses, people to donate money towards building out their operations, and lastly people to donate their time and volunteer during the dress donation events and/or speak as mentors to the girls.
Given the state of the world today where many believe that “girls have to be perfect,” many teenagers are exposed every day to cyber bullying and body shaming on social media. With this project, Sisakhti takes a strong stand against an artificial and unrealistic notion of what beauty is. Considering advertising in the online retail market has been built on the message consistently telling women that they are expected to appear a certain way, what Sisakhti does as an online fashion retailer is laudable. As for today’s adults, we have to make sure that young people believe in themselves at an early age. Doing so is not possible when they feel isolated among their friends for not being able to keep up due to their finances or body insecurities.
"Recent events in our nation have inspired me to run an event in the nation's capital," Sisakhti said. On January 31, girls were invited to a function where they were able to pick out a free dress for a Father/Daughter dance:
He aims at having dress donations and operations set up across major cities within the US. In conjunction with donating dresses, the Believe in Yourself Project seeks to create a mentor program that will provide mentoring services and other supports as well as also bringing in female speakers to talk to the girls. The aim is to promote a positive body image and healthy self-esteem at an early age, empowering these young girls to feel good about themselves and to take on active social roles within their school communities. Speaking of future, they will be having a donation event in Boston, MA in March along with one in Nashua, NH as well.
In an interview, Sisakhti gave some thought-provoking advice to people in the community about achieving one's goals: “My first piece of advice would be to follow your heart and take chances. If you pursue something you are passionate about and truly love, then the likelihood of being successful at it is much greater. Secondly, be comfortable being uncomfortable. No matter what you pursue there are going to be challenges along the way, so develop a thick skin and the ability to endure hardships. Thirdly, keep a level head. There are highs and lows in anything, so don't get too high on yourself or too down on yourself. Lastly, at the end of the day, it's all about innovation and being a unique individual. So be proud of what makes you different and leverage and use it to your advantage.”
What the company does with this project is not only great for the community but also beneficial for the business as well. In one of my recent articles entitled “How High-Revenue Ecommerce Stores Compete with Amazon,” I discussed the tactics of competing with Amazon without losing revenue, and one of those tactics was creating a good cause. If you sell your product or service with a worthy cause, you will not only help consumers make a difference in the world but also develop a socially conscious brand identity along with a strong sympathy from your audience. In that piece, I gave the footwear brand Toms’ as an example of how to build a powerful business with a deeper purpose.
Sisakhti’s brave and inspiring initiative in his industry reminded me of Medium’s CEO Ev Williams’ business decision to shrink the company to utilize its resources to build a yet-to-be-announced new business model, to will reward writers and creators based on the value they’re creating for people as he aims at changing the “broken system” which is ad-driven media on the internet. Even though they are coming from the different industries, the similarity, to me, is that they both have the vision and courage to leverage their power in order to fix the issues occurring due to the dynamics of their industries, instead of getting caught up in very impressive income figures. I’m excited to see more and more entrepreneurs who make positive differences as they are shaping the tech industry in the upcoming days.
While you are here, don’t forget to check out one of our most popular series entitled CMSC Reviews Six Top Enterprise eCommerce Platforms where we assessed the key features, pros and cons, and pricing of Demandware, BigCommerce, Shopify, commercetools,Hybris, and Magento.