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Interview with Alba Garcia and Anna Cañadell, founders of BCOME

2021 ends and it's time to recap the last few months. Alba García and Anna Cañadell reflect on the journey that has taken the project to where it is today.

Interview with Alba Garcia and Anna Cañadell, founders of BCOME

The desire to create something from scratch, the ability to involve those around them and the interest in transforming the fashion industry were the engines that led these two women to trust their intuition and launch a project that arises from having very clear ideas. BCOME is the result of a journey with many curves, in which each turn has helped its founders to boost and reinforce their objective. 

2021 ends with the excitement of those who have managed to close a 350.000€ investment round, be chosen as one of the 50 most innovative startups of the year, be the second winners in the “Sustainable Business Models” category of the IX edition of the Generacción Awards by Deloitte and of course, have achieved the B Corp certification.

Alba and Anna lead by example, no matter what the beginning is, there is always room for change, evolution and of course, learning.

Let’s start from the beginning, how did you meet?

Anna: We met during the first year of university, in the architecture school. Although we only studied together for one year, we started a lasting friendship that led us to share a flat even after Alba started International Business. While we were living together our friendship transformed into a relationship of full trust, it was a period in which we got to know each other very well. Although neither of us ended up working in architecture, that school was the beginning of everything.

In what aspects do you think you complement each other from a personal point of view?

Alba: I would define Anna as a very passionate woman with great generosity, two qualities that I consider essential to start a business. Her analytical skills and practicality make things happen, she is a very decisive person. But without a doubt, what I like most about sharing a project with Anna is that we go hand in hand and that’s essential for me.

Anna: We are super aligned, we have a very clear direction. Something that complements us very well is that we both believe in a job well done. We both come from entrepreneurial families and we share the vision that no one gives anything away. We believe that success lies in the effort, in carrying out a long-distance race. In this sense, Alba is a very organized person as well as a perfectionist, with incredibly clear ideas. It gives me a lot of confidence to know that if she decides to do something, she will achieve it.

What did you have in common that made you start a project together?

Alba: The thrill, already present from that first stage in which we shared a flat, that conviction of wanting to create something. A dream that is inherited from what we have both experienced at home and in Anna’s case, also from her first professional experience linked to a start-up in which she was able to see first-hand that things can be developed from scratch. Entrepreneurship is not easy, there are many moments in which you have doubts and betting on courage and looking forward is something we have in common. For us there is no option, entrepreneurship is the way.

Anna: The ability we have always had to involve the people who have surrounded us is also important. In our previous jobs we were already able to involve our closest circle. Awakening that interest in others through something that wasn’t directly ours made us think about the magnitude that we could have together, in the commitment that we could both have to carry out our own project.

Alba, before starting BCOME, you had worked for many years in the fashion industry, how did you perceive the environment in which you were immersed?

Alba: I’ve always believed that it’s an exciting industry, without forgetting that it’s a sector that is worth reviewing. My first most important professional experience was at Inditex and it became a master’s degree in every way. I traveled a lot to the field, which led me to know all the lights and shadows of the industry. I remember being in a very tall building in Tianjin, a manufacturing city in northern China, looking down and seeing nothing because of the great cloud of pollution that covered everything. That was a key moment, I felt overwhelmed when I realized that I was part of that scenario, that awakened in me the desire to reverse that harmful impact and contribute in a positive way to the world of fashion. At that time, sustainability was not understood as a priority, it was an unknown concept that only a few of us talked about.

Anna, you came from another professional world, what motivates you to change your sector?

Anna: In my experience, the change was motivated by believing in the opportunity to generate something of my own and to do it together with a person with whom I shared a vision. After one of her trips, Alba explained to me the reality of what was happening on the field. We identified the opportunity to help Asian suppliers develop a more sustainable product and bring it closer to Europe. We got down to it.At that time, there were very few people who understood the need to create a more honest fashion and Alba spoke from a knowledge and values ​​so unique that she passed her passion on to me. Without thinking too much, we left our jobs and went to India in search of suppliers that would allow us to find a solution for the textile industry.

What was your main goal when you started BCOME? 

Alba: After almost two years working with suppliers in Asia, we decided to follow our intuition and began to develop what BCOME is today as a platform. We understood that the market didn’t need a greater product offering, but the knowledge and answers that would make the sustainable transformation of the industry easier. So we turned all the knowledge we had acquired in the field into a digital product that sought to offer solutions to achieve this change.

Anna: The methodology and standardization of the product have come from prior knowledge and learning. It was very difficult to make people understand why out of two very similar shirts, there was one that was more sustainable. We needed to make the complexity of the word sustainability easy. We set the goal of getting that information to both the brand and the consumer.

How was your experience when starting the company?

Alba: Unfortunately, there is not much help for entrepreneurs in this country. We’ve been fortunate to have trusted people who have guided us throughout the process, if they hadn’t been there, we’d have had a really difficult time. From our investors, through family and friends, to the clients who trusted BCOME from the beginning, such as Thinking MU, they have been people who have walked with us in a very human sense, always from the respect and understanding of what we’re doing. Although in general there is no context that encourages you to start a business, in our experience, we’ve been very lucky with those who have surrounded us.

Until not long ago, sustainability was not such a popular term. What has been your approach to brands? Has it been hard for them to pay attention to the speech of sustainability?

Alba: The focus has always been the same, providing information so that brands can tackle the challenge of sustainability. From here on, imagination takes the lead. There are brands that seek purer sustainability and others that use this knowledge to improve their communication and show themselves in a more transparent way. It depends a lot on the maturity of the brand in terms of sustainability.

Anna: Every brand is welcome, the main thing is that they have access to this information to decide later what to do with it. When it comes to attracting brands, it’s true that we usually look for those that already have some kind of sensitivity, a vision of change. We want brands to perceive BCOME as a support in this transformation process.

What is the value proposition that you offer to your clients? How are you different from a regular consultancy?

Alba: Our vision of sustainability is integrative, we try to provide answers from an environmental, social, and economic perspective and all this in a context of transparency. This transversality gives our product a differentiating value. In addition, we have two great strengths, on the one hand there is the human support and on the other, the existence of a validated methodology. BCOME is a platform behind which there are people with great experience and knowledge who provide support throughout the process. This human side is complemented by our technology, a very rigorous method and a complex algorithm that provides solutions based on reality and not on intuition.

During this time you have helped many brands take a more conscious path, what challenges have you had to face?

Alba: The challenge is constant, brands often come to us without knowing very well what product they are buying, but as soon as they check what BCOME can offer them, they constantly challenge us to make the data more rigorous, to have greater transparency, they demand new products…There is an ongoing challenge to go one step further.

What is the most valuable thing that you have learned throughout your journey with BCOME?

Anna: We’ve learned a lot, but if there is something that particularly satisfies us, it’s to have confirmed that the methodology works. We feel very confident defending the data that we are offering. Despite the constant challenges, there is also a pride of product consolidation, we are sure of what we show. Providing this guarantee of data is important so that brands also believe in BCOME. It gives us great confidence to see that the methodology itself has this strength.

From that initial objective on which BCOME was founded, how have your goals as a company evolved?

Alba: We reinforce our objective day by day, BCOME evolves as much as the industry does and our brands progress. Ten years ago sustainability was a difficult concept to describe, the more the industry transforms itself, the more BCOME will change. Constant evolution is something that motivates us personally, to update ourselves and not stay in that first product, to feel that we have come a long way since our beginning.

Anna: This evolution is something that we also see in our clients. Most of the brands we work with are recurring, their knowledge is also evolving and issues that were previously unknown, now they handle them perfectly.

How did you feel from a personal perspective during this two-year journey with BCOME?

Anna: I am very grateful, these last twelve months have been a huge learning process and although the risk is still there, we feel very sure of the team that we have created, of the investors that we have and of the growth that we are doing. I firmly believe in a job well done, the results may not be seen immediately, but I certainly feel trained for the curves that may come.

Alba: I share the feeling of constant learning and challenge. In general, the balance is very positive. When I talk about BCOME I do it with pride. Thanks to the team, the project has its own personality, it’s like a living being. We faithfully believe in what we are selling.

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