EHL Success Stories: Startup Edition - LABISK.OT
By Silvia-Cristina Vasquez, Bachelor student and Communications Intern at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL)
EHL Success Stories: Start-Up Edition is a new series to show support to our EHL Family and, more specifically, our hard-working AEHL entrepreneurs. This project aims to showcase EHL's entrepreneur mindsets, support new and upcoming ideas and businesses. While overcoming a challenging time for all companies, these start-ups prove that resilience and hard work can overcome any problem.
Can you present yourself in a couple of words?
My name is Allegra Paterno Castello, I am Swiss and Italian but grew up in Geneva, Switzerland. I graduated from EHL in 2015 and spent a few years abroad. As of March 2020, I am living in Geneva.
Can you tell us about LABISK.OT?
LABISK.OT is a responsible activewear brand for Women from Geneva. The aim is to align the need of our planet with those of urban, sophisticated and active women: Wellbeing, Sport, Comfort and Purity. Through feminine and mix & match pieces 100% designed and produced in Europe from recycled / recyclable and eco-responsible fibers, LABISK.OT wishes to offer well-being in the lives of urban women while preserving nature.
My first collection is named The Botanical Collection to represent the Swiss nature. My plain colors represent water, trees and flowers that directly bring me to the mountains. I added two patterns, one of which is made with real flowers from the canton of Vaud countryside that have been dried and assembled, and the second pattern is a dreamy Tie-Dye.
Can you tell us the story of how it all started?
After my studies at EHL I decided to undertake a specialized Masters at SDA Bocconi in Milan and, upon graduation, I joined the Italian subsidiary of a luxury brand as account manager. Ready for a challenge, I learned Italian at work and discovered the heart of European fashion through multiple customer visits. I then continued in Paris for a year. My experiences in European cities have strengthened my need to take time for myself and be aware of the environmental situation.
Sport-enthusiast since my twenties, the desire to combine my well-being with the well-being of the environment came true upon my return to Switzerland in February 2020. Not finding a brand of activewear that met my needs: performance, comfort, ecology and femininity. LABISK.OT took its first breath in Spring 2020. A brand for city dwellers on the move who want to preserve the environment.
How did EHL play a role in developing your ideas?
I started working on the project during the first confinement, Spring 2020. The collection came to life in April 2021 after a full year of hard work, dedication and a lot of learnings.
EHL allowed me to have a strong business mindset. The tools acquired during these years helped a lot to create a Business Plan that was consistent and apply a strategic mind on each task that goes with creating a company and a brand.
How did LABISK.OT experienced the pandemic?
During the peak of the pandemic I was mainly working on the collection development, and I was not directly impacted in terms of business, however the manufacture based in Portugal was running with limited capacity and the full process took a bit more time than expected. It was also more challenging to meet with my technical designer who lives in France.
What advice would've you given your 2019 self?
Be ready, COVID-19 is around the corner :). Honestly I wasn't expecting to come back to Switzerland that fast, I had a great experience in Paris, but COVID-19 made me come home, and it was probably for the best. I would've told me to follow my dreams and convictions and move out of my comfort zone.
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