- Growth & Funding
Fashion x Growth: Discussing the funding options for the fashion industry in “How to get Funding for Fashion?”
In connection with Slush, Finnish Textile & Fashion organized a side event where fashion and apparel companies and investors discussed funding within the fashion industry. The event gave both equity investors and Finnish fashion brands the chance to participate in the discussion.
Finnish Textile & Fashion is constantly lobbying to create a comprehensive program for the growth of textile and fashion industry. In addition to public support and funding, also private funding is needed to realize this goal. Fashion x Growth: The event titled “How to get Funding for Fashion?” was planned to bring together investors and companies and to increase the equity investors’ understanding of the fashion industry. The event was hosted by Anna Sillanpää, founder of Robes Rental and host of the podcast “Muotipodi.”
The first speaker at the event was Marja-Liisa Niinikoski, Managing Director of Finnish Textile & Fashion, who presented a review of the industry’s future and growth potential. This was followed by speeches by domestic and international investors, as Erik Karlsson, Investment Manager at H&M CO:LAB, Alicia Teo, Associate at Lyra Ventures, and Juha Peltola, Managing Partner at Vaaka Partners took to the stage. The speakers shared valuable information about what kinds of criteria there are for investments and what kinds of trends and phenomena the investors follow. Each investor also discussed the investment portfolio of their own company.
The event ended with a panel discussion featuring investors as well as the CEOs of two brands of different size, Sampsa Laine from Manna & Co and Petteri Kiuru from Wølmark Finland. The topic for the panel discussion was the current state of funding for fashion, the challenges and opportunities related to risky investments in the fashion industry. During the discussion, Laine and Kiuru addressed the issue that, currently, financing for growth is focused on technologies, while the fashion industry is more about customer understanding and top-quality products.
Timing and the right kind of expertise key to attracting interest
Several tips for applying for financing were shared during the panel discussion. “Getting the first investment is the hardest part, because the company doesn’t yet have any key figures to show. Interest attracts interest,” said Kiuru, encouraging his fellow entrepreneurs. Peltola from Vaaka Partners advised companies to be realistic and to familiarize themselves with the differences between the various funds: for example, a buyout fund is not a valid option for a company that is just starting its operations.
For a small fashion company, it is important to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of its own team. A brilliant designer should not engage themselves in financial matters but rather try to find partners who can complement their own expertise. The importance of team was emphasized in the discussion. “Venture capital investors evaluate the whole team, because they are hoping for fast growth for the company,” said Teo from Lyra Ventures. Angel investors, on the other hand, can provide the company with vital expertise in addition to financing. Even in this case, it is important to find the right person. To summarize the vibrant discussion, which continued even after the official program had ended, Laine stated, “It pays to focus on people. And to cooperate.”
Photos by Katariina Salmi