At the height of NYFW, Janine Just Inc. presents TechStyle NYC, a day-to-night leisure of experiences at the nexus of fashion & technology, drawing influential media, bloggers, & celebrities into one fashion-forward event. Set above the bustle of fashion week, the lounge offers a welcome reprieve to VIPs to discover, the new, next and now among the emerging brands curated into the showcase. The event had a wonderful turnout and attendees enjoyed the chance to celebrate NYC’s fashion week in techsy style!
But just who are the brands that attended the event? What’s their take on the event industry? And what did they think of TechStyleNYC? We took the opportunity to interview a few of the attendees and over the next few days will be featuring their interviews, read on for a peek inside the experience:
We talked to Kat Kinkead, Community Manager from Shapeways
First of all, please tell our readers about you – what is the company all about?
I am Kat Kinkead, Community Manager at Shapeways, a community of 3D Printing Makers, Inventors and Designers. I’ve previously worked with fashion brands such as Michael Kors, Coach, and Kenneth Cole, introducing their design teams to 3D innovation. I was also one of the first Shapeways team members on the ground building out the “Factory of the Future” – aka the worlds largest consumer 3D printing factory in 2012.
Shapeways is dedicated to giving individuals the ability to customize just about any physical product in their lives with the advent of 3D printing manufacturing. Instead of being stuck with what is mass produced, Shapeways is giving the individual permission to customize and personalize what matters most to them. We are dedicated to bringing this ability to both tech savvy and the tech newbies. By enabling our community to decide what they want to make and in what materials they want to print their projects in, we are opening up a completely new way of manufacturing that will render mass manufacturing obsolete is certain categories.
This also enables anyone to start a business that was once impossible due to the start up costs of mass manufacturing. Today, anyone with an idea can model it, print it and open a shop on Shapeways where consumers can come to our website’s marketplace, order the product and we will manufacture and ship the product for our new budding entrepreneur. The number of designers, inventors and makers around the globe that can now reach consumers anywhere and everywhere with their new business by only investing in the idea is pretty extraordinary and as a community manager for fashion and jewelry it is an amazing experience helping new makers bring their jewelry ideas to the physical world. They are just astonished at what they can create.
What were the 3 keys to getting the company off the ground – where did you invest your time?
Here is what I have learned from our CEO at Shapeways and what I see daily as I help community members launch their own businesses in the Shapeways Marketplace:
Intrinsic Passion – Businesses in their infancy will run into near-death experiences seemingly all the time. The most effective tool for pushing through those hurdles, without question, is passion. It can be passion for your product, passion for building, passion for branding, etc. While it would be ideal to think that all founders are equally as passionate about the product they are building, they are not. Your enthusiasm will help bring you through the tough spots and also be contagious for others who want to join you both to consume your product or service as well as join your team as an employee.
Vision – What is the higher order reason you are starting your business? Shapeways isn’t about 3D Printers. It is about enabling our community of makers. Projects are just that without vision and don’t be afraid if your vision continues to crystalized as you grow and find your most engaged consumers. AirBNB required renters to server breakfast when it first started and then the founder realized it wasn’t breakfast that was driving growth. It was the breadth of options in a breadth of locations. So his vision crystalized as he listened to his community and internalized what they loved the most. The same applies for our for our community members.
Community – Build your business around people and meaningful relationships with them. I’m not just saying this because I’m a community manager, but because we sincerely believe this is fundamentally critical to the success of any business idea. When more than one person shares an idea, the ideas grow exponentially and the impact your Passion and Vision will be able to make is exponentially greater. Greater because the ideas that come from the community are always significantly bigger and better than we can come up with by ourselves and greater because there are more people – there is a community.
Just having participated in TechStyle NYC at SXSW, what role do live events play in your branding and marketing initiatives?
At the core of Shapeways lies the community. Live events provide us an opportunity to connect with those community members in more depth that you can on social or through forums. We also get to share physical examples of new materials and build in educational workshops which we find our community loves.
Plus it is one thing to have a relationship with someone over the internet, but meeting face to face can create a significant impact you don’t get over digital channels. We find these encounters make for longer lasting and more robust relationship. Same goes for our products. Hearing and reading about 3D printing is one thing, but holding it in your hand, and feeling the quality of the material, is the true magic. Live events often allow us to focus on one category of makers and designers. Talking to community members who are specifically interested in fashion and accessories helps me speak to specific design and material options relevant to them and not, say, model train collectors who use completely different materials.
What was a successful social media campaign you hosted that showed great engagement and traction?
Actually, one of the most fun campaigns I’ve been a part of is relatively new for us here at Shapeways. It is #shap3dbyme on Instagram.
We are seeing community members sharing their Shapeways projects on Instagram and tagging them #shap3dbyme @shapeways. This has been tremendously fun because not everyone that makes projects at Shapeways and shares them through opening a shop on the site. So many of our community members make great things we never see, until now. This campaign is starting to show so many more great ideas coming to life through 3D Printing! I’m excited to see how it to evolves.
Finally, what is your favorite app?
Currently, my favorite app is StarWalk. Essentially you point your phone at the sky and it’s able to detect your location and identify which stars you’re looking at. I only discovered this app while I was at SxSW and discovered that the bright star I saw in the sky was jupiter.
It’s like having a personal Carl Sagan in your pocket. If it could whisper me some inspirational cosmos quotes, it’d be even more perfect.