It’s always a great pleasure to follow the initiatives of our Masters Alumni and see how much their study at ALTIS was beneficial for their current business and career path. We happened to see this video, taken from a broadcast of Telamazonas, an Ecuadorian TV Channel that interviewed our alumna Gabriela Sarmiento. We rejoiced at seeing how her business, Usa Reusa, the second-hand fashion shop that she founded, is successfully proceeding.
Gabriela joined the master in the 2014-15 edition, as she was 25, with an academic background in International trade, a previous work experience in the same sector but with the dream, one day, “to become my own boss”.
During the master she gained more and more interest both in the entrepreneurial and in the socially sustainable aspects of business. As her action project, she developed a business plan aimed at involving unemployed women in a cooperative cleaning-service initiative, to provide them with an income and more independence. This first project did not go, but the idea of establishing an entrepreneurial venture remained and became Usa Reusa.
“Being part of the generation of people who practice and encourage consumption of responsible fashion that damages the planet as little as possible is our motivation. We firmly believe that recycled and social fashion can be one of the solutions to generate positive changes at environmental, social and cultural level.”
This is the value proposition of the venture.
We have reached Gabriela and discovered more about her venture.
When did you start your business and how do you run it?
I started my business in May 2016, as a project, and in December of the same year as a formal business with the store that we opened. It’s a family business, I run it with my mother, and I also have external advisors, for marketing and graphic design.
What difficulties are your facing and [tricky question to ask to a startupper], can you live on your business?
It’s hard to be an entrepreneur and it's a lonely path, you always have many obstacles to overcome and lots of times you will feel that you want to quit, so I think the most difficult aspect is to be persistent.. Nevertheless if things keep going as good as they are going now, yes, I can live on this business.
In the video interview you mention your “maestria” at ALTIS and your Italian experience as inspirational for your venture. To what extent has the master helped you?
Yes, the year spent in Italy was useful: we were most of the time talking about business models, business cases with a social impact and entrepreneurship. It strengthened my conviction that I wanted to create something on my own and become my own boss. It was something that I was thinking about most of the time.
In regards to what was more useful for me, I can't pick one single aspect: somehow everything that I have learned helped me. Of course, what I have used the most is the business model canvas that we have studied in the Entrepreneurship course.
You mention and highlight the social and sustainability aspects of your venture.
Well, we are promoting the idea that it is good to use second hand clothes: we are not just extending the useful life of a garment, which has an environmental impact, but we are also helping women to have an extra income to take to their homes and we are donating part of our inventory to some rural communities in our country.
Usa Reusa: a small but perfect synthesis of a financially sustainable entrepreneurial and managerial initiative, conceived highlighting the social and environmental aspects and values.
And to Gabriela…. adelante!!!