#24 FLORA DAVIDSON - navigating fashion sourcing with supplycompass

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Human interaction can appear unrelated to processes and technology systems yet, they are in fact inextricably linked. I have been told previously in relation to fashion supply chains and transparency tools that ‘people are messy and you can’t make them conform’. However, I believe with the right tools, support and motivation people can enjoy working efficiently. If technology can make our lives and businesses more effective and profitable then, what’s not to love.

Issues arise when technology has been created without a deep understanding of the complexities of why and how people carry out their work in a certain manner. For example, is tradition or culture driving a process, or is there no access or desire to use alternative machinery, electricity or the internet. No matter how good your real-time data-driven technology platform is, if there’s no internet it’s not going to work.

Fortunately, Flora Davidson Co-founder of SupplyCompass, a transparent fashion sourcing platform, made sure she did her research before launching her business. Living in India for two years and spending time with people at all job levels in over 200 garment factories has givenFlora a unique insight into the way factories work. She understands the cause of any production issues and how to help solve those issues, not only for the factory but for the SME fashion brands they work with too.

SupplyCompass act as a ‘matchmaker’ between factory and brand. Capability and longterm vision are taken into consideration before a match is created. This ensures the right factory is paired with the right brand to develop a great product and strong relationship. Both factory and brand work in a standardised and transparent way that cuts down miss-understandings and speeds up production.

We have come to associate the term ‘fast’ in relation to fashion as negative. However, speed is not necessarily a bad thing. Speed can mean more efficient, better use of resources and fabrics resulting in less waste. And it can also mean that businesses make more profit. SupplyCompass aims to make sourcing faster, leaner and more responsible. Their product development (roadmap) is driven by problem-solving, rather than purely to innovate. They have built a product people genuinely want and will use. If we applied this approach to all fashion design - rather than creating collections then marketing and selling them to customers who up until now have not been involved in the design process - we’d see fewer returns and arguably a more sustainable fashion industry.

Both quantitative and qualitative research has been key to the success of SupplyCompass. Flora’s research approach was honed whilst working at Flamingo, a global strategic insight consultancy, who ‘believe that culture is essential to understanding your business, your opportunities and your future, not only because it’s fascinating, but because it’s genuinely useful’. During her time at Flamingo, Flora worked for clients including Adidas, across Brazil, America and France.

Being able to navigate the intricacies of people’s behaviour and turn those intricacies into a unified system, technology platform and business is forming a firm foundation for SupplyCompass’ future. Perhaps this is why Flora and Co-founder & CEO Augustus (Gus) Bartholomew have recently secured £1.5m in Venture Capital (VC) funding from Episode 1 Ventures, who have previously invested in Zoopla, Triptease and Shazam.

Join us for this podcast where Flora and I talk about:

  • Why strong relationships are at the heart of the SupplyCompass’ business and product development

  • How Flora has built a business that supports transparency in fashion

  • The future of Supply Compass and how they plan to use £1.5mil funding

  • What will fashion sustainability look in 5 years time

  • How Flora balances the pressures of being an entrepreneur, seeing friends and her wellbeing

112 episodes