British fashion designer and entrepreneur, Charli Cohen, spoke with host Michael Redd about blending the digital and physical worlds, the value of staying small and agile through the pandemic, and how trusting her instincts has had a huge impact on fashion.
This whole COVID situation has been quite a leveler for the industry and been a way for smaller, more agile brands to stand out and innovate during this time.” – Charli Cohen
Charli planned her first fashion collection at the age of 13 – on a sailing trip to New Zealand with her parents – and launched it at 15. She went on to get a fashion degree from Kingston University and has since been named a Forbes 30-Under-30.
Her eponymous label is a London-based fashion and lifestyle brand. With a commitment to sustainability, Charli Cohen makes limited quantities of their styles in independent locations around the globe. The brand has also done recent collaborations with Reebok.
Their innovative approach to weaving tech into wearables caught the eye of Mike Su and the Snap Yellow accelerator program. Cohen moved from London to LA to take part in the program which Snapchat launched in 2018 to invest and grow companies at the intersection of creativity and tech.
“Founded in 2018 in London by Charli Cohen, the namesake company is a fashion brand that focuses on technical fashion with cutting-edge fabrics, specialized construction, and modern style.”
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In this episode Michael and Charli talked about:
- Why she went into fashion so early in her life
- How her career was started with a humble Kickstarter campaign
- The importance of self-care and the myth of “grind”
- Her mission of creating fashion with eco-sustainability
- How she has disrupted the industry through innovation
- And why panic never helps during a crisis
Charli Cohen: ...Through my experience with my first brand and then going through university and just getting more and more of a sense of all the things that were wrong with the fashion industry, I then became sort of very passionate about addressing those issues and kind of doing what I could from my corner of the industry to show a different way that things could be done.
Michael Redd: Hey everybody, this is Michael Redd and welcome to the Betting On Yourself Podcast, where I interview successful entrepreneurs, athletes, and other top performers who rose to the top took success into their own hands and bet on themselves. I'm excited to have the talented Charli Cohen on my podcast today. At the age of 15, she started her own fashion line has grown into a hugely successful activewear brand under her name has become a global phenomenon. Named one of Forbes 30 under 30, she recently launched a collaboration with Reebok to produce our own shoe line blending her unique style high-performance meets high fashion.
Michael Redd: A personal trainer, marketer and passionate entrepreneur. Charlie's learned the value of starting small and building slowly and how trusting our own instincts has helped her build a brand that's focused on eco-sustainability or the environment and is making big impacts on the fashion industry. We talk about her journey to success that started from a Kickstarter campaign and how being small and staying under the radar can benefit your business, even in the midst of a pandemic.
Michael Redd: Again it's a pleasure to have you on the podcast, Charli, and to me having met you through Yellow Snaps Incubator, I was really, really drawn to the story and drawn to you and kind of wanted to hear more about your story and I think your life is an example of what it is to bet on yourself. So I want to ask you that question. What does it mean to you to bet on yourself?
Charli Cohen: Wow, that's a very strong opener.
Michael Redd: I try.
Charli Cohen: Honestly I think as a byproduct of my upbringing where both my parents and pretty much all of my immediate family are business owners, I actually didn't realize the quite a long time that there was any other option than doing that. So it was always a very natural path to me and I never really had to contend with this idea of it feeling like a big risk to bet on myself, it was just what you did. So it was more rather than thinking about can I take this leap of self-employment and starting my own business and all the kind of associated insecurity with that. It was more like, well, obviously I'm doing that so what shall I do with it? Fashion was what I was really passionate about. So I made that my focus.
Michael Redd: Was there a moment where you took a major, major bet in yourself when you were a kid or a teenager? After all, you launched your first fashion brand at 15.
Charli Cohen: Yeah.
Michael Redd: That's really impressive, and talk about that mindset and those emotions back then.
Charli Cohen: So I guess that was really my first foray, I knew the thing I was excited about, which was designing clothes, I knew that that was a tiny fraction of what I needed to do if I was going to have a successful brand. At that time we just moved to New Zealand, I was finding school CPEC that it's very different to the UK education system and just had all of this extra time on my hands that I wanted to use productively. So it just seemed like a perfect opportunity to give it a go and find out what it meant to be filing tax returns and doing a wholesale and all this very like numbers admin driven stuff that was on the other side of the creative.
Charli Cohen: But then also from a creative perspective, learning about branding and copywriting and so on. I just wanted to be able to learn the whole package then I didn't think that I would have the opportunity to do that with an intention in the same way. So yeah, it just made sense and through having this I guess this level of boredom that I had in New Zealand and quite remote area of New Zealand I was just very driven to do something more.
Michael Redd: Wow. Well, I read that you started Charlie Cohen eight years later.
Charli Cohen: That's right.
Michael Redd: So that's another big bet. Let me ask you a question before we get into to Charlie Cohen, why fashion for you?
Charli Cohen: So when I started it was because I just really loved designing clothes, and then through my experience with my first brand and then going through university and just getting more and more of a sense of all the things that were wrong with the fashion industry, I then became sort of very passionate about addressing those issues and kind of doing what I could from my corner of the industry to show a different way that things could be done.
Charli Cohen: So first of all my drive was just, I love designing clothes and then it gradually became this much more of a sort of avenging angel against the rather like gross fashion industry.
Michael Redd: You made a comment that says, designing to you as equivalent to writing a song. Explain that.
Charli Cohen: Yeah. So it's very literal because often I will write music as the kind of that would be my research for the collection rather than kind of collecting visuals. But I guess the similarity with writing a song is that I will figure out the structure. So in the case of a song, it's going to be like roughly what the melody and chorus is with a fashion collection. It's kind of figuring out a rough range plan and then I'll draw the first draft of the lyrics, I'll do the first draft of the designs and then just start tweaking and tweaking until it all comes together as a whole. In both of those cases, I do most of that process in my head right through to the final product before it actually goes down on paper.
Michael Redd: Say that again, you actually sketch it out in your head before it comes down on paper?
Charli Cohen: Yeah. So I'll pretty much go through the whole development process in my head. I'll allocate like a couple of weeks where I'll just be walking around whatever city that I'm in and just designing in my head and then I will literally come back and do the technical specs and send them off to the factory.
Michael Redd: Wow. What a gift? That's amazing.
Charli Cohen: I can't say it went down very well at university where they expect to see you working. I designed the collection then I'd have to just go back and kind of make up all of the sketchbooks and things I was supposed to also provide.
Michael Redd: Wow. That's amazing. It's interesting I was doing some study about your background, that you were involved in a number of protests growing up.
Charli Cohen: Yes.
Michael Redd: I want to hear how that kind of impacted your perspective on life, on your business, on your brand. Because obviously we live in a time where there's social unrest right now, there's issues all around the world. Talk about your experience protesting and how that impacted your perceptive on life.
Charli Cohen: Yeah, for sure. So I was fortunate to be brought up by an extremely politically aware mother. She would, and still does, she would always have those conversations with me from when I was very young and wanting me to understand geopolitics basically. She's always researching, her mother, my grandmother was a little say like that. Just always trying to like gather as much information as possible. So that was very much the mindset that I had drilled into me, and then I guess when I was 12 was when the war in Iraq started and we had the UK was vast majority not in favor of going in and [inaudible 00:09:27] in any way.
Charli Cohen: Where I was based at that time was in one of the main Navy bases in the country. So there were amongst my friends, there were lots of parents in the military. It was very much a military area, and all of those people also very much against the invasion. Because it was I guess the emotions were so high in that area, there was a lot that was happening around me, around where I went to school. I would say furious about what was going on, that I needed that outlet of protest and being able to gather with other people who were as angry as me. My mom obviously was very happy to let me go off into those protests because for her it's very much like, "That's my girl."
Charli Cohen: Happy for me to go and do that. I got involved in all sorts of things but that was I think one of the more memorable ones was where there were a group of us trying to climb over into the navy barracks. Obviously didn't get very far but that was certainly a very memorable experience as I guess, a 12 or 13-year-old. At that time I was also, I guess, translating these feelings through what I was wearing. So I would be making my own like slogan T-shirts and customizing my denim and trying to make a political statement in any way that I could. I was very passionate about it and very outspoken about it.
Charli Cohen: I think luckily that was a time where actually people were much more open to healthy debate as well. So I found myself getting into lots of conversations with people my age, adults as well who were in favor of the war and being able to actually have healthy debate with them and learn each other's perspectives. That was a really kind of valuable experience as well. I think that's something that we've lost a bit over time. Everything's very, very divided now. But yeah, I guess it's always been parts of who I am. From a design perspective as well, I design based on what I'm feeling passionate about or angry about. So most of the time that's politics or what's happening socially.
Michael Redd: Yeah. I tend to learn so much from people I disagree with.
Charli Cohen: Yeah, exactly.
Michael Redd: That's a key component that I wish permeated throughout the world to just listen and be curious and be open and you certainly have used that towards the brand.
Charli Cohen: Yeah. Very much so.
Michael Redd: Talk more about that as far as the impact of what you experienced, how it influenced your brand.
Charli Cohen: I guess taking the fashion industry that is so much exploitation, there's so many issues with diversity and representation. The exploitation happens all the way through the business as well. So obviously right from the bottom of the supply chain with the appalling factory conditions and people barely getting paid and the issues around fast fashion and then right through board positions in the industry. A lot of similarities between what has come out over the last few years in the film industry that it's very similar in the fashion industry.
Charli Cohen: A lot of a lot of exploitation because it's such a competitive industry and people are willing to put up with a lot of shit to not lose their job, or to be able to move up in the company that they're in, it's appalling that people will be taken advantage of because they have passion and drive to succeed in this industry. Then there's obviously the sustainability issue. So the mass waste, all of the water pollution, just unconscious consumption that's encouraged where you have designers that are pressured to be, what used to be two collections a year they're now having to churn out 16 collections a year to kind of stay in line with the high stream.
Charli Cohen: The quicker that stuff's churned out, the quicker the consumer wants stuff churned out and it's just such an unsustainable ever-escalating cycle of more stuff that nobody needs. Actually that's one thing which we might talk about later, that's the whole pandemic has actually started to make a positive impact on because certainly that type of production hasn't been possible and people have started realizing that maybe they should take this moment to slow down longterm.
Michael Redd: Yeah, I've heard you mentioned about changing the industry from the inside out, more so than complaining from outside in. The powerful statement and it just goes along with what you're trying to do with the disruption of the fashion industry.
Charli Cohen: For sure. So I want to make sure that everyone is getting paid fairly, everybody's working reasonable hours. Right through the factories who I spent a lot of time putting together our supply chain and I still spend a lot of time in the factories, most of which are smaller family-run factories through to my team. So whenever I've had interns making sure that they had a really, really positive experience. In fact of the three interns that I've ever had two are employees now, and that's the kind of I don't want to be just taking advantage of cheap labor or free labor. I want to be helping people grow, especially now it just seems like common sense, but apparently it isn't.
Charli Cohen: Then from an eco-sustainability perspective, again, I think it's just common sense. I started the brand in 2013. We were all completely aware in 2013 about what was happening with the environment. So I was of course thinking about what were sustainable fabrics we could use? What was sustainable dying processes for those fabrics? What mills could we work with who had renewable energy in place? What could I do in terms of our shipping and supply chains to help reduce the amount of things were flying back and forth and reduced carbon footprint? It will seem like really obvious things that I needed to factor into the structure of the company.
Michael Redd: Yeah. Read where 70% of the fabrics used recycled ocean plastics, which is amazing.
Charli Cohen: Yeah, that's right. We work with some incredible mills in Italy, and Italy over the years has actually received a lot of government funding to just for R&D in sustainable fabrics and sustainable textile production processes. So it's been great to be able to plug into that. That's the thing, there's so many options out there. There were a lot of options out there when I started and 10 tenfold that now. So there's really no excuse for companies to not be taking this approach.
Michael Redd: Well, there are people out there that know you and know the brand and they see where you are now in life. But talk about the Genesis of this from a bootstrapping standpoint, I think you funded this initial endeavor from your savings.
Charli Cohen: Yes. Whilst I was at university I qualified as a personal trainer and nutritionist, and I did online plans for people through uni. So through doing that, I started blogging, started getting more involved in social media and building a following and I started getting inquiries from people about how I was growing a social media following and how I was doing digital marketing because again, it was still like very early days for that. So I guess 2009, 2010.
Charli Cohen: So I also ended up working as a digital marketing consultant for small businesses. So I had these two side hustles on the go through my degree and was able to build a bit of a pool of savings to get started with. I also got an award from an investor so that the makers of [Ricra 00:19:52] and they helped to fund our launch in June 2013. After that, I did a Kickstarter campaign at the end of that year.
Charli Cohen: So very much, still bootstrapping to be honest. We run a very lean ship in the interest of being a sustainable profitable business. But yes, I started off with savings and never had the desire to go for the front-loaded VC funding. I really wanted to be able to slowly and sustainably build something that would actually have the legs to last for a really long time and I've seen you from friends and acquaintances, I've seen a lot of those initially heavily funded businesses kind of collapse because they want those structures in place that you only learn how to put in place from bootstrapping.
Michael Redd: Wow. Tell me about the challenges of then and the challenges of now?
Charli Cohen: The challenges then I think would just not enough hours in the day, because when you are starting a business, you don't have any data as to what works. You can research, but if you're trying to do something new, then there's very limited data. So you feel you have to, and you kind of do have to try everything. By the end of my first year which was first year of business off the back of a pretty full-on degree during which time I was also running two other businesses and then running businesses alongside my education prior to that.
Charli Cohen: In 2014, I had complete adrenal burnout and just couldn't get out of bed anymore, and it was that severe for about a year. I had to learn during that time how to not only run my business but also grow my business whilst I could literally only work about two hours a day. So that was my initial big challenge. So I've had like my first year of feeling like I can only make the business operate if I work 16, 18 hour days, seven days a week. Now suddenly I can barely get a day's work done in a whole week.
Charli Cohen: It's weird, but I think it's probably the best thing that's happened to me because I had to learn very fast and very hard how to prioritize and how to delegate and yeah, it helped me become a much better CEO and business person, like being forced to figure that out. I don't know many entrepreneurs who haven't suffered burnout at some point because the starting up of the business kind of almost necessitates it. I think you've got to be very lucky to escape it.
Charli Cohen: Also we all think we're invincible and we're going to be the exception to the rule and so we're the ones that get hit by it. So there were people trying to warn me for a long time before I was completely wiped out by it. But it was just like, "No, like, you don't understand, I have to do this. I don't have a choice." And then suddenly I did have a choice to actually do it. Yeah, it had to just add like completely change my lifestyle and productivity and efficiency and how I kind of assessed that, I guess.
Charli Cohen: Now I would say the biggest challenges now, good question. Financing and cash flow is a challenge all the way through, that doesn't go away, the numbers just get bigger as time goes on that things. But things I guess like specific to this stage in the business. I think when you have that very sticky period which we've probably been in for the last year or so where there's not quite enough money in the business to grow the team as much as you'd want, and you have to get through this like weird middle stage where like you're a bit like understaffed for everything that's going on. But you're not quite at that next level to be bringing more people on.
Charli Cohen: Everybody in the business kind of becomes a bit of a Jack of all trades whilst we try to get the new things that come up every year, whilst we try to get all those done. I guess I don't think you ever have the growth spur of the business aligned with the growth of the team, you're always kind of staggering the two. So I think those are the challenges just trying to get up each next step when you have this kind of crunch period in between each step, if that makes sense.
Michael Redd: Totally. So I think you said a couple of things that are going to help so many people, whether they're an entrepreneur or not. Self-care is critical because I've spent the last eight years helping entrepreneurs debunking the theory of grind, and there's a necessary time for that, for sure. But what you said about self-care and delegation is such a powerful thing.
Charli Cohen: It's the most important thing and you just have to accept that in the first few months nobody's going to do the job as well as you are and you just have to come to terms with that and delegate anyway, because it's not sustainable for you to hold on to everything and you just got to kind of like grit your teeth through that awkward transition periods and then you will realize that it's the best thing that you've ever done.
Michael Redd: Totally agree with you. Talk about this partnership and collab with Reebok.
Charli Cohen: So this came about, gosh, I'm trying to think now. I think 2017 we signed the deal and 2019 we launched the first shoe. So it was a very a very long process with Reebok going through a lot of changes in that time. So it just kept getting pushed and pushed, and I had this thing I was so excited about and I'd like been able to tell investors about constantly. It's just like, I don't know when it's launching, but I promise we do have a contract with them. Finally we got to have the most amazing launch really in 2019 for International Women's Day, and literally just got the opportunity to create Reebok's whole global campaign for International Women's Day, which was which was amazing.
Charli Cohen: It was really fun to design the shoe, but also incredible to be able to see put together such a meaningful campaign and a lot of responsibility as well because it's something that you really have to get right. Even though it was a very long journey to get there, it was very much worth the wait and we've launched three different styles with Rebook so far. As my first opportunity to be designing footwear and I'm a bit of a sneakerhead, so it was very much a dream come true to be able to work on that. Finally, actually be able to have kind of full head to toe looks.
Michael Redd: Yes.
Charli Cohen: So, yeah, it's been a really, really fun experience and it's been a really good learning curve as well, just working with a huge corporation versus the way that we work as a small business. First of all made me feel very happy to be small and agile, especially right now. It's given us a lot of tools for partnerships that we're working on now and future partnerships that we will have with just the different ways in which the whole kind of chain of command and communications work. So through doing that, we're able to make that process much more efficient with other partners that we're working with now, which is great.
Michael Redd: You have to smile when you see that you have your own shoe with Reebok.
Charli Cohen: Oh yeah.
Michael Redd: Such a big deal.
Charli Cohen: It took a really long time to sink in and actually the first shoe launched when I was on the Yellow Accelerator program and quite a few of the cohort bought the shoe. But it was an extremely surreal experience, but it was really nice to actually have that launch whilst I was there and have other people to share it with who kind of understood how enormous it was for a startup to have that kind of partnership. It helps me to absorb how cool it was. I think that's a difficult thing. As an entrepreneur, you're aiming for the goal and as soon as you have it, you just kind of like put it to one side and get on with the next thing. So to be able to actually absorb it was really nice.
Michael Redd: Do you wear the shoe a lot?
Charli Cohen: I wear the shoe pretty much every day.
Michael Redd: I certainly would. Wow. You mentioned Snapchat and that's how we met and had an incredible time with all of you when I had the privilege to speak at FireChat. It was an amazing time. Tell me about the impact that Snapchat has had on the brand, the business.
Charli Cohen: So I went into it thinking that the biggest impact it would have would be the extended network it offered. That has been amazing, but what was really incredible was actually the cohort itself, the other businesses on the cohort. There are several of the companies that we've already collaborated with on stuff, that's one that we are going to be working with ongoing long term. It's such a well-curated group of people, and I know that Mike and Alex, their intention was to have this kind of cross-pollination between the companies as well and that inform that's how everyone was selected. But it was really great as well, I'd never really had the opportunity to be in a community of such like-minded people.
Charli Cohen: So for that first month before lockdown where we were all able to be in the office, I've always worked from home. So I was kind of concerned about going into this like more 9:00 to 5:00 office type environment and what the workflow would be like, it was just so much fun and so inspiring to be with people who, everybody's either going through the same thing as you, or they've been through the same thing as you and can advise, or you've been through the thing that they're going through now and can advise.
Charli Cohen: It's just so helpful and also reassuring to be with other people who've got through this particular struggle that you're currently dealing with. Then when lockdown happens, I actually moved in with a couple of the other founders and that was a blast as well to be trying to operate our businesses through COVID together and have that support.
Michael Redd: They've done a great job, Charli creating a community in a family atmosphere over there at Snap and particularly in the incubator. You mentioned COVID and talk about how this new reality has impacted you and also the business. Obviously you've been accustomed working from home, so this was not new for you. But how has this COVID-19 situation kind of affected you?
Charli Cohen: So yeah, we're working from home and working remotely definitely was very, very comfortable with already, which was fortunate. But honestly, it's been quite inspiring, I do best under pressure and I have really, I think embraced the challenge and was actually really excited about coming up with new ideas that would work within this time. So the first thing I did, so lockdown was in March?
Charli Cohen: The first thing I did in March was start this Instagram live stream festival where a few times a week we would split screen with an independent artist and give them a platform to do like a short gig and give their community and our community a nice way to spend an hour of their lockdown that was really, really rewarding. Being able to work with other artists and showcase all of these really talented people that was cool [inaudible 00:34:10] stream.
Charli Cohen: It's on hold for now, but I think it's been so far and I think it's definitely something, but I might dip back into even after the pandemic is over that we've been at work a lot with the music industry anyway. So that was a kind of very natural thing for us to do. There were some artists, we'd send them samples so they could be wearing Charli Cohen for their performances. So that helped to generate cool content for both of us. We did a series of sort of photo shoots through Zoom and socially distanced photo shoots. We had to do the whole secondary book campaign from lockdown. There are these two amazing creatives I work within London, sisters [inaudible 00:34:57].
Charli Cohen: They shot the whole campaign like at home, on themselves with green screen and then just created this incredible campaign for Reebok. You can check out on our Instagram just from their one-bedroom flat. So it really kind of forced you to get creative and that's something that I quite enjoy, and it also really helped to foster a lot more community spirit within the creative industry as well, which has been really, really lovely. I think that's something that is going to continue just because we've been in this for so long that all of these more positive habits that we've developed as a community, I think that they've properly become habits now.
Charli Cohen: It's not just you have a disaster, everybody comes together and then the shock wears off and everything kind of goes back to normal. Whereas here we've had so much time since the shocks worn off that this is our new normal now which I think there's a lot of positives to be said for it. The other way that it's been good for business is that it's really been a huge leveler for the fashion industry because the big corporate businesses have really struggled to cope with this. They don't have a business model that can sustain this sorts of disruption.
Charli Cohen: So suddenly smaller, independent brands like us have much more space and much more of a platform to disrupt, I guess, and to really kind of show up as being leaders in the industry which again has been really exciting. So on the whole, although obviously running any kind of business especially where we're like selling a physical product and people have not been going out and therefore have not been thinking quite so much about buying themselves new clothes. For us hat's been something of a struggle. I think all of the positives for how we've been able to build the brand during that time have really outweighed that side.
Michael Redd: Wow. I think you're absolutely right. This was an incredible time for innovation and creativity because we have nothing but time to do so. You said something that was very, very important that I think can help a lot of people on how you do this. You said, "I do better under pressure." That's a powerful statement. How do people struggle with that, that ability, that skillset, how do they cultivate that within themselves?
Charli Cohen: I think it is just a case of practice and every time that you come through a high stress or crisis situation, you trust your ability to do that a little bit more. None of us kind of start off being perfect at being able to do that but it is just, I guess, in the same way that you would address a phobia with exposure therapy. It's that kind of thing you just consistently allow yourself to be in those situations and ride them out. I definitely used the panic a lot more when I started out and I've just learned over time, that stuff actually tends to work out, have a lot more faith in that.
Charli Cohen: I think the best advice I can give is to really like train yourself to be able to listen to and identify your gut instincts because that's really what's going to get you through these crisis situations. You will have a sense, especially if you're running a business, like you're so in it and you're so in the industry that you're operating in, you will have a sense of the way to navigate it if you can tap into that.
Michael Redd: It's beautiful. I agree. I also think just to piggyback what you're saying, I think vision is critical. How critical has that been for you for your life and obviously for your brand having foresight and having vision.
Charli Cohen: It's been essential for me to always have this bigger picture that I'm working towards because that's what the driver is and it's really easy to get stuck in the day to day firefighting. It was actually, it was very helpful for me going out to the US and actually ended up staying three months longer because of the pandemic and actually being away from my usual work environment, I was able to spend a lot more time just focusing on vision and big picture than on the normal day to day.
Charli Cohen: I think the pandemic actually given a lot of people the opportunity to do that because of the amount of time that we all suddenly have. It's impossible to put together a strategy if you don't have a sense of where you want to be. I think it's important to be really ambitious because even then if you miss that goal you're still probably doing pretty well.
Michael Redd: I agree with you, how have you been able to avoid comparison? Especially in the fashion industry, social media. Is it more of you being grounded in who you are as far as your identity?
Charli Cohen: Honestly, it's something that I've really struggled with. I think most of us do but it has definitely helped just properly understanding that what I'm trying to do is change the industry. So how can I use the same set of criteria that the part of the industry I don't like is using? I can't measure myself by that set of tick boxes and it sounds weird, but it's taken me really quite a long time to realize that actually I need to make my own tick boxes and that the stuff that's part of this traditional industry that I don't like is so irrelevant.
Charli Cohen: So yeah, comparing myself to it isn't getting me anywhere, if anything, it's kind of taking me back to exactly what I want to change. So I think just really the introspection to realize that that was one of the things that I was doing, and that was depressing me and realizing how completely productive it was very helpful. It's still something that I need to kind of check in with myself quite regularly.
Charli Cohen: Because it is so easy to be scrolling through Instagram, or I find it especially difficult during like the biannual fashion weeks and things when suddenly there's just like so many profiles of other businesses and I'll stop and like, "Oh, maybe I should be in this publication, or I should be in this whatever, and I should be being warned by this VIP." But yeah, I think as you said, just getting as a more comfortable with my own identity is something that's different to that industry that keeps me on a level.
Michael Redd: Yeah. Well, you've accomplished so much thus far. What's next, Charli?
Charli Cohen: Thank you. What's next?
Michael Redd: Yeah. What's next?
Charli Cohen: So the thing that I'm really excited about and was one of the reasons why it was amazing to be able to participate in the snap accelerator is more integration between physical and digital, which I see as where the fashion industry is going. But most of the industry are a bit slow to catch up on that. So we are working much more actively with the gaming industry and with AR and VR. So we did our first VR fashion show partnered with Verizon back in June, July.
Michael Redd: Wow.
Charli Cohen: We've just launched the best of a longer term collaboration with Assassin's Creed, where we integrated an AR experience into the physical garments. So basically you can point your camera at the garment and it will create this experience that's inspired by the game. So we want to be doing a lot more of that and also integrating more of that and see all of our garments. So the great thing about AR is that anybody with a smartphone is able to experience that and as a designer, not only do I get to design a garment, I get to design this digital experience that goes around it that helps to describe what the inspiration behind it is. So creatively I can very much geek out on that. So that's, what's next this real integration of digital and physical.
Michael Redd: I'm a huge fan of AR and VR technology. I can only imagine where your mind goes with that ability to simulate and create.
Charli Cohen: It's amazing. Being able to do the first VR show and you're not having to think about gravity. All these things, normal considerations when you're developing a physical product just go out the window. You can literally do anything. I guess it's almost like a bit overwhelming, but it's really exciting.
Michael Redd: Absolutely it is. No, I'm very familiar with that world and it's really, really cool. It's endless what you can do in that world.
Charli Cohen: Yeah, it really is.
Michael Redd: So we talked about what's next, I want to ask you a question about what would you share with your 16 year old self, if you had to go back in time? What would you tell your 16 year old self?
Charli Cohen: I think that's where I'd be like, really get to grips with trusting your gut instincts, because the times that I have gone with my gut, even though it seems like a crazy risk and people have been like, "What the hell are you doing?" That's always panned out, and whenever I have gone against it again, because something seems like a good idea on paper, even if it feels a little bit off that's when things have been disastrous. So just trusting my own inherent ability to know what the right thing to do is.
Michael Redd: Charli, it's been an honor. It's been a privilege to have you on the podcast. I got to get some of that gear and I got to get me a pair of shoes and I love the whole swag.
Charli Cohen: Oh, thanks so much, Michael.
Michael Redd: Yeah, I do. Thank you for being on the podcast again, it was a delight to have you.
Charli Cohen: It's been an absolute pleasure to talk to you. Thanks so much for having me as guest.
Michael Redd: Yes, absolutely. I love Charli's ambition. Her story is a great reminder that you don't need to panic, but to trust your own abilities to make the right decisions and remain focused on your goals to see the bigger picture no matter what anybody else says. Thanks for listening to today's episode to read the show's notes, learn more about my work or connect with me, visit michaelredd.com. New episodes released every week on Monday. So make sure to subscribe if you want to stay up today. Until next time I'm Michael Redd, and remember you are the secret to your success.
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