This CEO's Nontraditional Path to Entrepreneurship Will Inspire You
In honour of our co-founders Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s new book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made ($26), we’re running an interview series featuring 17 questions (to parallel the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of inspirational female leaders who are at the top of their fields. We last spoke with inspiring muse Kathryn Minshew. This week, a style maven is sharing how she turned a simple need into a brilliant business—meet Fitcode’s CEO and co-founder, Rian Buckley.
As you surely know well, the search for the perfect pair of jeans never ends. One might argue that the perfect fit is harder to find than a spouse. But as other millennials are busy swiping right, one determined 27-year-old is set to revolutionise the experience of shopping for denim online. Rian Buckley, CEO and co-founder of Fitcode, knows a thing or two about jeans.
After completing a degree in political science, she modelled internationally for major brands from Nordstrom to Tommy Bahama and experienced firsthand the frustration of an improper fit time and time again. The amount of pinning, altering, and photoshopping it took to make a pair of jeans look good on a model was staggering—and the returns on denim sales for major retailers was even higher.
A simple desire to solve her peers’ similar sartorial woes led to an idea. She founded Fitcode, a fashion data company that suggests your perfect jeans by focusing on fit, not size. It was a revelation. In two short years, the company raised $2.3 million in funding—and its fit quiz is rapidly becoming a go-to for finding the perfect pair of jeans. We sat down with Buckley to discuss all things career. Meet the fearless entrepreneur who is leading the denim revolution.
“It changes daily! At first I had my hands in all areas of the business, but as Fitcode has grown, I’ve learned to trust that what I’ve built can fly without me. I still remember walking by the first meeting that I wasn’t needed in. It was exhilarating to see my team taking initiative and sharing my passion for Fitcode. These days, I focus on building our partnerships and setting Fitcode’s overall vision and strategy. Because we’re all about serving consumers, I’m constantly asking myself Would I use this? If not, why? and adjusting the product accordingly.”
“My nontraditional path to becoming the CEO of a technology company. I graduated from the University of Washington with a political science degree, spent time in the Marshall Islands studying climate change’s effect on the coral reefs, and then travelled the world modelling. It was these experiences, not business school, that gave me the freedom to see the world in new ways—problems to be solved, not products to create.”
“I don’t remember what I wore to my first interview, but I do remember what I wore on my first day of work! I got a job in high school as a restaurant hostess and wore nylons for the first time, which my mum had always described as terribly uncomfortable. A few hours into the shift, I was in serious pain and wholeheartedly agreed with my mom: Nylons were terrible! Little did I know, my appendix was actually rupturing. But I haven’t worn a pair of nylons since.”
“My mother. I lost my mum to breast cancer in December and would love the chance to show her how far we’ve come and how much we have accomplished. My mum was as inspiring of a businesswoman as she was a mother. She was also a passionate feminist and believed that nothing was more powerful than when women came together and lifted each other up, so she would have been thrilled to see this community of women leaders.”
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