Sukoon Active makes it possible for women of all faiths to live active, healthy lives.
An avid runner and a Muslim woman, Arshiya Kherani always felt as though she lacked access to the activewear she needed in order to be comfortable while working out. When she realized she wasn't alone in this, she set out to do something about it.
Briefing / Learn how Sukoon built an activewear line that would disrupt the industry.
Define the Problem
Arshiya noticed a lack of modest and contemporary activewear in the market, and realized that most of the activewear industry was producing similar items for one particular value system and body type.
To provide options for diverse women who are interested in leading active lives, Arshiya and her team designed a line of activewear hijabs and apparel that provide women who are looking for modest and inclusive workout gear with more readily available options.
Arshiya started by developing a prototype with the help of her mother and a sewing machine, and launched a Kickstarter campaign to secure the funding necessary to launch a pilot line into the market. Today, Sukoon offers four activewear options for women, with more in the works.
Because their existing line has been so successful, they plan to continue to expand the line to include an increasing number of options in terms of style, fit, and function, so women everywhere can be comfortable in their activewear.
Tool / Use the Empathy Map to identify customer needs, just like Sukoon did.
We'll email you Sukoon's completed Empathy Map as well as a PDF lesson and template so you can try it on your own projects.
Advice / Arshiya's thoughts for those who want to make an impact
I would say that my most important resource in starting Sukoon has been my community. The first step I took in starting Sukoon was setting up a meeting with two friends who had successfully launched their own startup. Excitedly, I laid out my market research, highlighted the opportunity, the pain points, and then my dream solution. They listened patiently and then asked, “So now what?” It was both soul-crushing and eye-opening, and in a split second, it became painfully obvious that no one was going to tell me what to do next.
So I did what I’ve always known how to do: I talked to people. I spent months combing through LinkedIn and Facebook, making lists of everyone I knew or should know who worked in fashion, a start-up, or a consumer product business. Every coffee shop in NYC became my classroom and over the past 2+ years, I’ve grown my network, community and coffee habit by at least 2-fold. These conversations helped me shape a loose road map for my business, and what so often started as a 30 minute chat with a stranger has brought me friends, mentors, customers, team members, and advisors. These relationships are invaluable, and when it comes to making decisions for Sukoon, this community is what keeps me accountable for every step we take as a business.
My go-to newsletters for the startup world are the weekly digests published by Y Combinator,First Round Capital, and Project Entrepreneur. They each offer knowledge on different topics ranging from investment trends to start-up dos and don’ts. If you are networking with the “right” people, over time, the names and organizations in these newsletters will start to be extensions of your own network. The Shopify Stories series is another quick and helpful tool on leveraging e-commerce platforms that I enjoy. And when I’m feeling a little down, out and doubtful of startup life, I listen to the Kerning Cultures podcast. It highlights stories across startups in the Middle East where individuals and communities have far less resources than I have access to here in NYC, and are still resilient in building scalable businesses. Not only are the stories beautiful and inspirational, but they force me to put my head down and work even harder because if they can do it, so can I.
In ten years, do you want your business to have failed because something didn’t work, or because you didn’t put your all into it?
In building your business, you will come often come across 1) people who are skeptical of your idea and your ability to execute it, and 2) people who are so much smarter than you that it will make you sick with insecurity. Don’t feel like an impostor! If you never come across a skeptic, dream bigger. And if you’re the smartest person in the room, find a new room.
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