Eshita Kabra-Davies was working in finance when a honeymoon visit to her hometown opened her eyes to the waste of the fashion industry. It turned out to be a life-changing moment that drove her to change careers and launch By Rotation, the fashion rental app where users can rent out their wardrobe. (Think the Airbnb of designer dresses).
Here, she tells us her story and gives some expert planning tips to help turn your passion project into a reality.
Why did you start By Rotation?
“As a self-confessed (ex)shopaholic, I was overcome with guilt when I saw textile waste in my own hometown during my honeymoon to Rajasthan, India. Upon digging into the polluting ways of the fashion industry, I realised just how unsustainable our consumption habits are. There’s already enough out there for all of us to wear – we apparently don’t wear one-third of our existing wardrobe – so I built a solution that empowers us to share and steer away from fast fashion.
Today we are a community of over 25,000 users, from students, professors, homemakers, and lawyers to Stacey Dooley, across the UK in less than 10 months!”
How did you plan for your career change?
“I initially founded By Rotation as a side hustle alongside my full-time job. I used any free time I had to myself after work and at weekends to develop my idea and product. With my experiences as a web-designer since the age of 12, I launched a test platform over a weekend and gained press and user traction across the UK very early on.
With my vision coming to life, I decided to invest in developing a mobile app – the first of its kind. I took great care in planning the roadmap for our app development and user acquisition goals so that I made sure to only resign from my job on the day our app launched! While I was hesitant to leave given the high opportunity cost, the plans I had formulated were helpful in reassuring me.”
How did you find working during lockdown? Has it changed your view on how you work and live going forward?
“We just moved into a new house during lockdown, so it’s been very interesting figuring out each member of the household’s space. I have thoroughly enjoyed working at home thanks to more flexible hours and comfortable settings.
I’ve also been much more productive thanks to video calls and more frequent team meetings. I don’t find not meeting face to face to be impersonal; I actually find it to be more effective when working with people you already know.”
How important is sustainability to By Rotation?
“Sustainability and community are our core values. We’re a purely peer-to-peer platform and we’re also completely digital – ensuring that our focus is on community, using what is already in circulation and being very mindful of the waste and energy we consume.
Whenever we have a new idea or proposal from a potential business partner, we always ask ourselves if our values are aligned. It’s increasingly important for a startup to consider its impact on all stakeholders and provide transparency; it is the sign that our company wants to contribute towards a more fair and sustainable future guided beyond financial profits.”
What are your top planning tips for anyone who wants to turn their passion project into a reality?
“First, scope out the landscape to see if there are any similar ideas in existence and note (in your Papier journal!) how different you want to be and why.
Then, test out your idea in the most cost-effective manner (friends, family, colleagues, Instagram) and analyse the feedback to understand if the idea is viable.
Develop a roadmap to note down your short, medium and long term goals and ask yourself the 5 questions (who, what, where, how, why) for each time period.”
How do you take time to pause and keep a life balance?
“As the founder of a rapidly-growing tech startup, there isn’t a concept of “personal time” or “drawing the line”, your work does dictate your entire lifestyle. However, the small things in life have really brought enormous joy when trying to gain perspective. Puppy cuddles from my son Saffron, Barre classes on the weekend and escaping to the countryside are my go-tos!”
What are you planning next for By Rotation?
“I don’t want to give too much away as you’ll have to download the free app to know more, but here are a few hints: more well-known personalities and brands listing their designer items on the app, our first round of external fundraising and geographic expansion so we go glocal (global yet local)!”
Eshita's Papier Picks
By Rotation are offering Papier customers a discount on their first rental. Simply use code PAPIER5 for £5 off a minimum rental spend of £30. (Expires 31 October 2020, can be used for advance rental bookings.)