Want Miroslava Duma to invest in your company? Here’s how…
Miroslava Duma is a fashion powerhouse. And not just because she has covetable chic style. Having launched fashion and luxury lifestyle portal Buro 24/7 six years ago, the platform has grown to become one of the world's leading digital media networks with localised teams across 11 countries (including right here in Singapore, of course); she has equitable interest in Reward Style (which monetizes social media accounts and websites through link sharing); founded mother-and-baby e-commerce site The Tot last year (Duma has two children under the age of 10 and is proud to announce that she's now expecting a third); and, as revealed last week, is now starting up her own investment fund, Fashion Tech Lab (FTL) — a hybrid of venture capital fund, experimental lab for new technology, and catalyst for emerging brands (dedicated to making fashion more sustainable through innovation). And all this, not to mention a passionate philanthropist and still setting street style trends at fashion week, at just 31 years of age.
In a Buro 24/7 Singapore exclusive, we speak to Duma about how FTL will fit into her existing stable of digital projects, the importance of sustainability in fashion, and what she is looking for when investing in a company.
How will the FTL complement your existing businesses such as Buro 24/7 and Reward Style?
I love the synergies between all the businesses that I am involved with. There is always an overarching story, a big idea behind all of them, which takes them beyond their initial goal. Buro 24/7, for example, is a digital media company, with access to an enormous pool of creative talent, who might one day lend their minds to help shape the aesthetic of some of the other projects we work on. Or Reward Style could become a partner for the FTL Experimental Lab.
Sustainability in fashion is at the heart of FTL. What do you have to say to people that assume sustainability and being commercially successful are mutually exclusive?
Sustainability is a core consideration in the millennial mindset, so my generation already values responsible businesses. Our children — that is, Generation Z — are even more socially conscious and charitable. As such, the fashion industry is going to have to become more sustainable to actually remain commercially successful. That's a fact.
What do you look for in a company or brand before you invest in them through FTL?
Ideas, technology, capability, vision, team, culture, execution, timing, timing, timing! Some of the technologies out there have been around for over 15 years and have either been kept secret — reserved for government — or haven't been able to secure opportunities to scale them into bona fide businesses. It's a combination of various considerations, but timing is absolutely key.
Is there a company that FTL is investing in, or a company that is on your radar, that you think is exciting?
We are constantly inspired and surprised by the incredible minds within the industry and the innovations that they come out with. I love the story of how Orange Fiber came about — the perfect convergence of the power of science, active problem solving, and the artisanal, to create beautiful clothes from orange refuse.
If we fast forward 10 years, what do you hope to have achieved with FTL? What is the vision?
The vision is to build the most globally relevant, innovative and disruptive fashion tech company in the world. FTL is just at the beginning of its journey, and I am so excited about what is yet to come.
Check back every Monday for another @MusingMutley column from Norman Tan, Editor-in-Chief of Buro 24/7 Singapore. Read more columns from @MusingMutley.