The dash dash dot dash dash dash (go dash dot for short) story began when founder, Hannah Fastov, grew tired of carrying multiple bags with her just to keep up with her exciting on the go lifestyle. Despite her valiant efforts to find the perfect bag that held her dirty laundry, deodorant, shoes, snacks, laptop and wallet, she was at a loss. Thus, after a rough morning of getting a strap of one of the three bags hanging from her shoulder stuck in the turnstile on the 33rd St. 6 train, launching her salad for lunch onto the floor providing an early lunch for the fury subway dwellers, she knew it was time to take action. Subsequently, Hannah started imagining and designing a functional, practical, and stylish bag that could accommodate her crazy days; dashing from the gym, to work, and to dinner with friends, without exposing her underwear to the public.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Entrepreneurship has always been a passion of mine; it was just a matter of finding the right opportunity. In 2014, after living and working in Manhattan for 2 years, I was tired of carrying a purse, a gym bag, and a briefcase with me at all times. I had tried many different types of bags to hold all of my stuff, but none kept me organized and looking stylish. After countless gym locker room conversations and a study of over 100 active women, I found that I was not alone and realized this idea had real potential.
Tell us about your business.
Go dash dot is a dynamic brand in active wear accessories founded to provide women with functional, yet fashionable bags for on-the-go-living. Our first product, the Infinity bag, was designed from a survey of active; on-the-go women to ensure the bags truly fit the needs of our consumers. The bag includes a separate compartment for your shoes or yoga mat, a snap-in snap-out pouch that can double as a cross body bag or fanny pack with the additional adjustable strap included with every bag, a machine washable laundry pouch, padded laptop section, water bottle holder, and lots of interior and exterior pockets, so you will always be ready to GO! Plus, if you don’t have shoes or a yoga mat, there is an interior zipper that releases the shoe compartment creating a deeper tote. We have expanded our line to include a backpack and weekender bag, which will be coming out in June and we are currently working on a few new styles for the fall and winter.
Additionally, we strongly believe in self-empowerment for women so we have partnered with women cooperatives all over the world whose mission is to support independence and empowerment by providing skills and work opportunities to women in developing countries. We currently work with the South Tribe in Kyrgyzstan and Sherab in Bhutan to incorporate their traditional crafts in our bag accessories, which can be added to personalize any go dash dot bag. We are always in search of new artisans to support this mission by using their handiwork to enhance our designs.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Use the code LADYBOSS for 15% off your purchase!
I graduated from The George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Sciences in 2012. While working full time for another company, I successfully launched go dash dot in October, 2016 and secured six wholesale accounts and am currently working on exclusives for two large fitness corporations.
Where is your business based?
Corporate headquarters for go dash dot is based out of my small apartment in New York City.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
The first step was to create the bag of my dreams. Go dash dot is a product-based company. The only way to see success was to create a product I would use every day and knew worked. It took a year and half of thinking, designing, and testing to finally nail down the product. I also needed to find someone who could help turn my ideas and sketches into commercial designs and tech packs. I met Yudhisty, who is now head of design, through upwork.com (an awesome freelance website) and haven’t looked back! Once we had the product, it was about setting up an LLC so I could legally sell products and spread the word.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Raising awareness has definitely been one of the more challenging parts of starting my business. Once you reach your friends and friends of friends and family, there is definitely a lull. However, I have found social media to be quite helpful. Planning and managing your social accounts is a job within itself and can be very frustrating and surprisingly lonely. However, when you hear ‘Oh, I have seen this on Instagram’ or someone reaches out to collaborate or to find out more information about the product, it makes all the time and effort worth it and proves its value. I also participate in industry trade shows. I have definitely found them to be a great way to be face to face with the people who are responsible for buying your product categories.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
My biggest challenge is sales. I know I have a product that works, but finding the right audience and getting them to listen is hard! I hear a lot of ‘great product, but no thanks’ or ‘not right now’. But as I talk to other people in the industry, it seems you have to be persistent and maintain confidence in your product and company. I definitely question myself a lot!
How did you overcome these challenges?
Honestly, I am still working through these challenges. I am a new brand and have been to market one season. But it is the small successes that keep me going. One order, no matter how small, gives me the confidence to keep going and growing. Also, networking is invaluable. The information, tips, and business contacts other entrepreneurs have offered are pure gold.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
It is not easy! I create small goals for myself so I can stay on track and have something to strive for. Also, on the harder days, I can look back and actually count all the milestones I have hit and the successes we have had. I started this company while working for another company. One of my bigger goals was to build a company with enough momentum to be able to quit my job and I just did it! I will be the Founder & CEO of go dash dot full time starting in June.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Go dash dot bags are intuitive to what women need to stay organized and ready for anything. You want your phone, wallet, keys to be accessible, laptop secure and out of the way, and shoes separate from everything else. And, if you have dirty clothes or intimates with you, you don’t want everyone to know. Every go dash dot bags delivers. In addition, we work with women cooperatives to provide women with opportunities to work, earn money, gain independence and build confidence. We are also working out the details of a partnership with My Sister’s Place to help raise money for their amazing organization, which helps victims of domestic violence.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
The best advice I have received is slow and steady wins the race. It seems silly, but I couldn’t agree more. Of course I dream about becoming an overnight sensation; but more important to me is building a healthy business that will be around for a long time. Many people have told me to take small steps and with each step, learn a lesson, implement change, and improve. Don’t make any quick decisions and avoid risks. These have been my guiding principles thus far and it has been very sound advice.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
I would suggest talking to everyone you know about what you’re doing and listening to their stories. You never know who might be able to help you, even if it is not right off the bat. Especially for young entrepreneurs, people want to help you and you should use them for their knowledge!
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
I joined a mentor circle last year and the group has proven to be one of the best resources I have. The mentor circle is a group of women from different industries across the country. We are a passionate, creative, and empowering group of ladies who want to see each other succeed. There are so many instances in which I have turned to them for business advice, recommendations or even just a friendly reminder that everything will be OK! I definitely recommend joining one.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I recently read “The Originals” by Adam Grant. I don’t typically read these types of books, but it was recommended by my Dad and I was pleasantly surprised! The book profiles original thinkers who started companies, wrote scripts, started websites, etc, including all the barriers they had to break to get to where they are now. Particularly resonating for me was that at the beginning, most of the people had no clue what they were doing, but had an idea, a lot of passion, and ran with it.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am currently learning about social media, marketing, and sales. I come from a product development background, so marketing and selling my product does not come naturally to me. I would really love some help in the sales department if anyone has tips they can share with me!
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My goal for the next few months is to drive sales. We have two new styles coming out in June 2017, a backpack and weekender, and new colors of the Infinity bag, so I want to make sure I have outlets to sell them. To meet these goals, I am attending the Active Wear Collective in Huntington Beach, CA and Idea World in Las Vegas this summer. We will also be participating in a Fitness Event in Chicago to help build brand awareness and direct to customer sales. I am also launching a new website that is more user friendly and offers better SEO capabilities. Finally, I am leaving my full time job so I can focus all of my efforts on go dash dot.
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