Hello Devyn, can you start by sharing a bit about your background and your journey so far?
I’m originally from Toronto, but I made the move to New York City for my undergraduate studies. I enrolled in NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study where I crafted my own major to delve deep into the intricacies of businesses and relationships in our digital era, with a particular focus on innovation and fashion. Alongside my major, I completed a Business Studies minor through the College of Arts and Sciences and Leonard N. Stern School of Business. My time at Gallatin was also marked by my role as the Creative Director of Embodied Magazine, our Arts & Culture publication, where I played a pivotal role in transitioning the magazine from print to digital.
How did these experiences shape your career path, leading you to entrepreneurship?
My varied roles, from content creation at Elle.com to e-commerce at Moda Operandi, and branding at Métier Creative, gave me a comprehensive view of the fashion industry. However, my passion for technology and its potential to reshape our world pushed me to look beyond the traditional boundaries of fashion. I became interested in how technologies impact the way we consume, transact, interact, and form social identity.
I became interested in how technologies impact the way we consume, transact, interact, and form social identity.
After some time in New York, I made the transition back to Toronto to pursue my JD/MBA at the University of Toronto, aiming to augment my business acumen with a legal perspective to ultimately pursue an entrepreneurial path.
What was the driving force behind starting your own business?
I’ve always been fascinated by entrepreneurship as a means to blend creative and strategic thinking. Entrepreneurship offers a unique platform to forge my own path and make a tangible impact on the world. My parents—one, a lawyer who briefly practiced law and both of whom embarked on an entrepreneurial journey themselves—have been a tremendous influence. Together, they have demonstrated the power of bringing a distinct voice to an industry to do meaningful work.
What do you believe makes you a strong founder?
I am a left-brain and right-brain thinker—I approach problems with both a creative and strategic mindset. I would say I am ambitious, yet grounded. Idealistic but realistic. I have big visions and ideas, but do not get stuck in the clouds. I turn my vision into action on the ground.
Can you delve into the specific problem you are addressing at the intersection of fashion and technology?
The fashion industry has been sluggish in embracing technology and the transformative power of data analytics. My co-founder and I are determined to change this, leveraging technology and data to bring innovation, credibility, and a deeper level of insight to the industry. We are on a mission to challenge the perception of fashion as merely a surface-level field and highlight its potential for technological disruption and data-driven strategies. We are also passionate about making luxury fashion more accessible for the next generation of consumers—specifically, millennials and Gen Z customers who love to shop but have different values, needs, and spending power.
What led you to join Antler, and what was the most valuable thing for you so far?
A former classmate introduced me to Antler, and it appeared to be the ideal platform to explore and refine my entrepreneurial ideas, backed by a supportive and experienced network. The journey has been transformative, offering unparalleled access to a wealth of knowledge, insights, and a community of like-minded individuals navigating the startup landscape.
I have really valued the opportunity to receive constructive feedback. It made me realize that one might have a grand vision of a product or a service, but what good is that product or service if nobody needs or values it? I underestimated the extent to which this mindset must be exercised as early as day one. You need to make sure you are building something people want, not what you think they want.
You need to make sure you are building something people want, not what you think they want.
What challenges have you encountered, and how have you navigated them?
When I first introduced myself to the Antler cohort and mentioned my goal to create a solution in the fashion space, initially, it did not seem like there was a lot of interest from my peers. However, deeper one-on-one conversations helped broaden people’s perspectives. The fashion industry is one with untapped potential to incorporate technology to unleash value, add data, and enable business-savvy disruption.
Another challenge has been constantly iterating based on customer feedback. This has been a steep learning curve. It requires sustaining momentum even in the face of challenges and necessitates a balance between being receptive to external input and staying true to our foundational vision. Resilience, adaptability, and a steadfast belief in our mission have been my guiding principles.
What would you advise people who are joining the next Antler cohort?
Embrace the program—there is a lot to learn from working with others, especially in the first few weeks. The cohort consists of people with different backgrounds, mindsets, and skill sets. If you are generous with what you can offer, without the expectations of others giving something in return, it will pay back, with dividends.
Another piece of advice I’d offer is a reminder to listen. Listening is super important, not only while talking to customers, but also while networking, receiving feedback or meeting a potential co-founder.
Finally, have chutzpah: be bold, confident, and put yourself out there.