Chapter 13: The Startup World

"I think I'll start a company" was never anything I said. 

It just happened one day. 

One day, I was thinking of ideas for updates I could make to my own closet, which led to thinking about how others who lacked the resources or skills to do it might still like to have this done to theirs. One day, I was assembling a team, pitching my idea, meeting with an attorney, and making my idea into a reality. 

 I started working out of Loading Dock Raleigh in January of 2018. You can usually find me wearing sneakers and running from one meeting to the next. 

I started working out of Loading Dock Raleigh in January of 2018. You can usually find me wearing sneakers and running from one meeting to the next. 

The more I talked about it, the more I realized what was so lacking in the fashion industry: a personal connection. I realized that we had stopped telling stories with fashion. What took months or maybe years to design, prototype, assemble from various garment factories, ship and put into your retail store and then into your hands, had a story that wasn't being told. 

I started Reborn to continue the story and the memories that we make with our clothing. From garment construction to your first date to your wedding day to your baby's first word, we live in our clothes. We create stories, and those stories shouldn't just end the day the t-shirt doesn't fit right or is worn and stained. 

Starting a company has been the most difficult, rewarding "project" in my life. I like projects. I like a goal and a target date. The day after we held our launch party at Liquid State, I woke up to a world without end dates: the startup world. 

 A typical day for me includes managing the team, raising a seed round with pitches, looking over finances, creating the social media schedule, planning events, and grabbing coffee with new people in my circle. 

A typical day for me includes managing the team, raising a seed round with pitches, looking over finances, creating the social media schedule, planning events, and grabbing coffee with new people in my circle. 

This is my company. There is no end date, no final run, no more target project goal to achieve. There will always be room for improvement, greater goals to reach, and ways to be more sustainable as a fashion brand. I've laid a foundation that does not mean anything next month if I do not continuously strive to be better and motivate my team to do the same. 

I make the decision every day to keep going. And you know what? Sometimes that's a hard decision to make. I spent my sophomore year of college in the role of a founder and CEO. I was thrown into a sea of males at pitch competitions working on teams, and I walked on stage by myself. I ask a lot of questions and I'm transparent about what I know and more commonly, what I don't know, so I've developed a "zero embarrassment" policy to get the answers I need. 

 Photo that appeared in The North State Journal 2017 

Photo that appeared in The North State Journal 2017 

While others have spent months or years developing their business before going to market, I did not have the resources to keep doing that. I knew we had to start generating revenue, quickly, to keep the momentum going. So, we launched after working on product development for just a few months. 

My favorite startup quote to date is, "If you're not embarrassed by your first product, you've launched too late." I didn't wait for perfection. I knew we needed to test the idea and see how the market reacted. 

 I've carried my Bernina sewing machine around since I was ten. It's part of the Reborn family now. 

I've carried my Bernina sewing machine around since I was ten. It's part of the Reborn family now. 

What you see is the final product (for now, until we make it look better next month). What you see is the clean side of a startup, but what you do not see is far more interesting. You don't see the times I had an exam the next day, but simultaneously an event where we were teaching basic sewing skills to young girls in Raleigh with a focus on female empowerment and entrepreneurship. Guess which activity I put more energy into for preparation? 

It's not easy to start your own business or assemble a team that is willing to put in the work and hours to make it happen. It's been an exciting experience, but since this is now a world without end dates, I am more excited for our future than ever before. 

Reborn is committed to diverting textile waste from landfills in innovative ways. As we have grown and validated the business model, we are pursuing corporate opportunities in addition to consumer garment up-cycling. I firmly believe that consumers and corporations alike have a story to tell, and it's far from over. 

 I'm passionate about getting out in the community because I have a firm belief that for-profit companies should give back and strive to have a positive influence on their environment. 

I'm passionate about getting out in the community because I have a firm belief that for-profit companies should give back and strive to have a positive influence on their environment. 

I do not advise that everyone start their own company. Anyone on my team will tell you that I expect a lot from them, but I expect more from myself. 

Essentially, If you're not willing to wash the windows of your restaurant, don't start a company. Why? The windows are the first thing that people see. 

Thank you for following along with our story, and thanks for reading mine today. Keep expecting big things from Reborn, because we're not going anywhere. 

Until the next chapter, 

Emily Neville 

Founder & CEO