Zana Nanic, is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Reclaim a direct to consumer business casual clothing brand that offers working woman top quality and accessible business-casual clothes. Reclaim is an extension of her ethos, merging Italian elegance & quality with Silicon Valley functionality for the modern working woman.
Throughout her career, Zana has been breaking the norm, with sheer willpower & her vision for success. Her journey has been nothing short of incredible & the resilience in her pursuit. Born in troubled Communist Yugoslavia, Zana’s family fled to Italy just prior the unrest resulted in her home country to be dissolved.
In Milan, her family trying to make ends meet started an apparel business. At a very young age, she was involved hands on deck within the business, selling door to door with her mother. Today, she has come full circle as she runs her own company: Reclaim, a business casual fashion brand that is based on enclothed cognition.
She started her career at the biggest consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, after which she launched products, grew & managed teams at Uber Italy after which she combined strategy and execution at Google. If that wasn’t enough of a rap sheet, she has a Masters in Economics from London School of Economics & did her MBA at Stanford Business School.
It was here where a class pitch to Eric Schmidt, ex- Google CEO resulted in him writing a check to help her build her dreams, and that 20 slide deck has turned into Reclaim
We also talk history of Fashion, the role Italy has played in it, and how she's leveraging the varied experiences in consulting, tech & biz school to scale her very own D2C brand.
Check out her incredible collection - This is Reclaim
Zana Nanic [00:00:00] They're like layers and the concept of an position and the first layer is getting into conflict, like if you're not able to walk in here like clothes or if you feel that something is OK, there's no way you can feel confident that the second layer is related to feel. So you want something that fits nicely on you that highlight your way to fail chimere, that makes you feel taller and at the top of the pyramid. And this is like the most interesting concept to is falling into an iconic pattern
Adrian Grobelny [00:00:38] today and things have changed. We are joined by founder and CEO of Reclaim Zana Nanic. From a young age, Zana has always been involved in running a business from helping grow her family's apparel company in Italy to launching products for Uber and Google. With the expertize in retail branding, Xana is disrupting the fashion industry with Reclaim, a clothing company that utilizes and clothes cognition to empower women's fashion in the professional world. In this episode, we learn exactly how and Kloth Cognition Works, the history of fashion in Milan, Italy, and Zoners Hussle story of applying for past experiences to reclaim.
Zana Nanic [00:01:52] The story actually has a clear pin point in time. I remember I was changing jobs, so I used to work in consulting, which is a very formal industry. What you're supposed to wear is very defined, like everybody knows with a business formal outfit ism. And then suddenly I got hired for like I was hired at Uber in the Italian market and it was kind of like an upgrade for me. I was going from an analyst bottom of the pyramid role to a managing role where I had my team of the youngest person and I had to tell people where older, more experienced than me what they were supposed to do. And I remember my first day there, and when I interview, I saw what people were wearing and a pretty casual, laid back, straight up environment. Like jeans, sneakers, like a normal t shirt, so very laid back and I remember showing up on my first day wearing that outfit and just looking myself in the mirror and being like, OK, last time I wore this, I was 14 years old. This is not going to work. Like I already have a huge imposter syndrome because I need to, like, manage a team and like bossing people around. And then I'm like looking at myself and I feel zero prepared like I have my confidence level is still low. So I remember being like, OK, how can I feel confident while wearing business casual? What does that even mean? It's like a problem. I ignore it because in consulting that was never like I had a very clear Monday to Friday uniform and then my weekend was just my own personality. So I had to spend significant time just like researching stores, putting together what were some looks that made me feel stronger. And then I discovered this paper that Northwestern University did about a concept called Inclose Cognition, that there are certain colors or certain things like certain like typical iconic outfits that just make you feel more confident as a woman. So we claim was literally the beginning of my wardrobe, like I created for myself a little capsule wardrobe with all the learnings, like what makes me feel confident, what makes me feel strong and powerful. And I put together like what was my wardrobe. And then little by little people just came up to me like, Oh, I really like what you wear. What is it? How is it. So it started a little bit like that, just telling people, giving advice. And then at Stanford, where I did my MBA two years later and became Reclaim a real company. So that was kind of like the origin story from imposter syndrome.
Jed Tabernero [00:04:27] Is it is it then reclaiming your identity in your confidence? Yeah.
Zana Nanic [00:04:31] OK, so the concept, like the name I take to reclaim, is a very strong word, like it's about reclaiming your power, your femininity, like it's like a very strong verb. It's not like it's something that you're supposed to hear and feel like, OK, I'm a bad ass, I'm going to go, what am I claiming to be defined? But it's up to you to define what is important to you. This ethos is very much in the clothes. So all the clothes are, first of all, like clean air time. All the clothes are like super easy. None of them is like dry cleaning. None of them is like you have to Irun. Everything is like done in a way that is practical for a working woman, for a mom like you don't want to waste time caring for your clothes. And then everything is done in like three shades of color. So you don't have to worry about what goes with what, how do I mix and match it. Everything is made in a way that whatever you pick from the wardrobe is going to look nice. And, you know, they just like reclaiming your sanity and and like everything has pockets. So when you're like on the office, on the go, like one of the big themes and your old man on this call, but you're not fully aware of it. The women's clothing doesn't have pockets. It's kind of like a stigman, just the fashion industry. I assume women have purses so they don't really need pockets. And so historically, that is what happened. So like women, clothing will have big pockets. So we need to start from a very early age, if you try to shop for kids clothing, you're going to see old boys. Pants are like cargo pants. They're like 15 pockets everywhere for like anything with knives included. And then women are like high school with no pockets whatsoever. They just an industry standard that a lot of companies like RECLAIM or like modern start ups that are for female empowerment. I'm trying to change. So it's pretty interesting.
Shikher Bhandary [00:06:31] Well, you touched on this a bit, but were you looking at certain trends to leverage why you started this? When you're looking at what's being offered out there and decided, OK, maybe I'm going to use this and this, maybe the material?
Zana Nanic [00:06:46] Yeah. So, I mean, I started Reclaim because I was a shopper first before being a founder and a fashion designer. I was a customer and I remember looking out there and trying to find what's appropriate, the amount of searches of the kind of like what business casual, what I could do for work. Like I've exhausted page twenty five of Google. So literally, like I've done a lot of homework in a couple of things I was seeing. The first trend is that like the formal business and business, formal industry, it's little by little disappearing. So if you take like the women suit used to be a two billion dollar market in the United States and now it's like twenty five percent of that. So within four or five years, 75 percent of the sales just disappeared. And then a lot of jobs that used to be very formal, like finance and banking. You see the women's college relaxing and I think that's like the Silicon Valley wave just getting into other industries, the Silicon Valley style of this idea of business casual. And here is a little bit extreme. But a lot of industry started to spillover effects like. Guys would not try not to wear a tie possible and women, because the code like the uniform is an amazingly defined sometimes go to like dress it down a little bit. So in general, like didn't like the business casual concept started to emerge and companies like. Like an Impaler or a banana republic that are known for being oh, just my work wear brand, like when I interview people my age, like in their mid 20s, early 30s associated with companies, is like their mom's generation, like they were not excited about shopping there. It was almost like an identity crisis, like the like the things I was hearing from my early customers were like, I don't know what these companies stand for. Like, I don't know what they believe in and what their values are. Like where they make their clothes, I was like, OK, it's very clear that the millennial customer and the GenZE customer wants to see something new like there is. It's a good moment to, like, come into this industry and be part of this change.
Shikher Bhandary [00:09:09] On the website I was looking at, like the whole yoga plan, work of flying that and then other trends like sustainability and just being ethically made. Everyone wear like Lulu stuff. It's like literally everywhere. So has that been something that you've been targeting? Well, there's a multibillion dollar brand, but I can add my own fashion, taste to it and create a niche market for what I'm trying to solve.
Zana Nanic [00:09:39] Yes, so I think like a pleasure, brands are really going for the very practical, very comfortable, because everything is like super stretchy, but the type of materials used are sometimes a little bit more plastic and like polyester and a lot of spandex and the designs that those are clothes that are workout clothes like they are inspired by, like yoga studios and gyms. They deal with religion is very different. So they deal with reclaim is. Yeah, comfort is still a big important part of it. And being able to move or move around and walk or run whatever movement you need to do, like we test all the clothes for movement, but like there is a technique of sewing that is a four way stretch where you try to put stretch in both ways of the answer. All our old clothes are made with this four way stretch. So it's like feels like yoga pants. But it's that thing that we're going for is more of the Italian elegance class. The person that is like walking down the street is still like the imagery that we're going for is a little bit more classier and a little bit more sophisticated and refined than athleisure. And but the thing we have in common is like we're striving for comfort.
Adrian Grobelny [00:10:58] So if you were to kind of list the main aspects of includes cognition, what are the elements of a clothing article that is going to provide the best comfort and the best experience for someone to wear like the feel of the material, the kind of free movements, like you said, and also the aspects of feeling like you look good or you're confident or you have some kind of a statement that you make
Zana Nanic [00:11:25] for them, like the layer that and the concept of position. And the first layer is getting to comfort. If you're not able to walk in here like clothes or if you feel that something is edgy, there's no way you can feel confident. So that's like the basically are getting the comfort, right. The second layer is related to fit and feel. So you want something that fits nicely on you, that highlights your ways and makes you feel skinnier than makes you feel taller so like fit and feel you want to something that feels very soft and your skin because those are all shooting sensations and you want to make sure that when you pass by a mirror you don't pause and be like, well, how am I looking? So there is like this fit and feel that layer. And at the top of the pyramid is. And this is like the most interesting concept to me is falling into an iconic pattern. So I'll give you an example. No Western scientists that study where they had people where a doctor and do a science science test, the people who wore the coat performed better on the standardized science test, which is insane, like they like for them, wearing a coat just made them feel like, oh, this is scientific. I need to use that part of my brain. I need to concentrate. And it actually resulted in a statistically significant difference where just what you wear had an impact on your performance. So there are some iconic items in women wardrobe. One iconic item is the blazer. The blazer gives a sense of power and it's associated with women in power. Would like the corner office. So there is like historically in our imagination, we have a library of power associated with the blazer, same way as in the DR situation. Like we know that where the code has been for the scientific information. Similar thing is, for example, they wrap the wrap dress up. The wrap dress is very iconic, voice came up with it and like the 50s and like when she came up with it, it was like women starting to work. That was like the uniform the women were wearing in the office, like the first secretarial job. So that wrapped like a little wrap dress has an iconic like you don't even notice or like the turtleneck turtleneck was worn by all feminist icons in history. So if you just Google some of the big feminist name they have, like this black turtleneck, Steve Job had it in our underly. Like we don't even know this is happening in our brain, but our subconscious just associate certain outfits or certain iconic pieces with more power than others. So once you put all of this together like we can. Sure. Something it's comfortable making sure something has a good fit and feels well. And then you make it in a way that reminds somebody of like. A photo that made history or a person that was important that they might have seen on TV, you're like having the right points and people really, like, start to pay attention and notice.
Adrian Grobelny [00:14:53] So so there is a science to dressing to impress. That's that's awesome.
Zana Nanic [00:14:57] Yeah, there actually is. And it's like it's a two way science. Still dressing to impress that you just mentioned is what can I wear that is going to give a message to other people. And cognition is more what can I wear that it's going to make my brain work in a different way? People who wear glasses tend to leave an impression that they're smarter than people that don't wear glasses. And there are a lot of little nuggets of your information and studies that people have done, like the caller Kalki, for example, give people like reassurance and people think that customer service is where khaki because it makes people feel like that's color of expertize. So that is like the dressing to impress is like what feelings and thoughts can I. Make others feel about my clothing while inclose commission is more like wasn't going to make me feel great and confident,
Jed Tabernero [00:15:55] going to make a list. Yeah, I think this thing in there, but very colorful talks like this one.
Shikher Bhandary [00:16:05] To add to that, I like someone who wears glasses and khakis. That's that person is like unstoppable just
Jed Tabernero [00:16:15] as we're on that topic. You mentioned something in your earlier statement about how now the trends in millennials are looking into brands that have meaning brands that that have a purpose. Right. So what is what is a.. Like there is some brands like Lululemon who focus on like this whole entire subculture of going to yoga for these these different kinds of things. So I guess for Reclaim, I guess, as part of your mantra or what you're trying to achieve, what is that piece that you're offering to the millennials that that is new? So there's these pieces that we're seeing that now you're putting a more utilitarian aspect into your clothing, putting pockets, making it makes sense for the type of materials that you use.
Zana Nanic [00:17:01] But we have like three big values that we want to represent as a company. And one is definitely the material, like our chief material is called pencil, and it's a sustainable manmade material. So when it's produced, it generates less pollution than like organics, like it's an organic fiber that it's like men process. It's made in Germany. So it has been invented by a firm in Germany and we source it from a German firm and manufacture it in our factories in Italy. So and we like pencil because it's wrinkle free is really hard to wrinkle it. So it's very easy to machine wash. You don't have to dry clean it. It has a really nice trench and it's sustainable. It's like one of the fabrics with less impact on the environment. So we really like it because it embraces like the concept of reclaiming time and practicality. But at the same time it's very respectful to the environment. So that's one big thing. Like sustainability is definitely something that we don't even see as a value, like a company that has been born in twenty twenty or twenty nineteen or like anyways this decade to just assume it has to be a sustainable company. Like it shouldn't be like a value to then advertise, like it should be a given in my opinion. The second thing that we that we have, and it's important to me at least, is the made in Italy. So I'm a Catholic. I grew up in Italy and Italy when I was three months old. So I feel very, very Italian and to me was very important in manufacturing, like I wanted the manufacturing to be in Italy. And I went through I mean, it's of course, it's easier and cheaper to go to China and it would have been easy to go to L.A. or New York, like next door to me. I live in San Francisco. It would it would have been easier to just drive there. But I was like, no, if I want to build the company and I want to make sure that I do it in Italy, those are my origins. It's amazing how an excuse goes. Go back to Italy every now and then. But in general, it was something I felt that I needed to do as an Italian abroad. So that was an important value for me and started to definitely like the female empowerment angle angle that we took. So all the things that we talk about, like we have real models and most of them are working women and pack up all the photo shoots that we have done. I would like real people with real life problems, though, with flaws that are beautiful. We don't really care like how you look or like, are you a fashion face? We want to know that, like, you have the right values that match an ambitious and ambitious woman that is not ready to compromise.
Adrian Grobelny [00:19:50] I wanted to point out I was looking at your website and I saw that these crazy numbers were on there, that you guys had three thousand seventy three women interviewed. Eighty eight designs tested, sixty seven fabrics examined and seven staples reinvented. Basically, like you said, those iconic clothing articles and you guys implemented more comfortable, better materials.
Zana Nanic [00:20:13] We definitely did our homework. And I think Stanford played a huge role in getting homework done because the Stanford is a very entrepreneurial MBA program. And one of the things that they push us to do is the pomoc customer interviews and like really understanding who your customer is and what they want and then prototype a lot. So prototyping was part of the DNA. I mean, we're still prototyping like we are having a new collection coming in next month and it's already like improved. Much on our first round, so it's a continuous process that never ends. You just keep like every time somebody purchases, I text them and I'm like, hey, I would love to have a chat with you. Can I ask you how you like it? And it's like part of the DNA of. An early stage startup is just like getting as much data as possible and improving on your product.
Jed Tabernero [00:21:11] It's so interesting where the industry is going now. So people are going to have more versatile wardrobes. People aren't. The frequency in which they buy clothing are probably going to get less the entire markets for secondary clothing markets like Ross and let's say T.J. Max or something. This is not the land in which Reclaim is trying to go in all these sustainable fashion because you won't even get to that area, whereas fast fashion, probably a lot of their products will go to these secondary markets and they've been created for that purpose. But now the no, I think the focus is so much different as we are kind of centered on sustainability now.
Zana Nanic [00:21:48] Yeah. I mean, like that's unfortunately how the fashion in the moment we started in early 2000 to be more globalized on certain markets just allowed for a different type of business model. That was a volume business model, very cheap, with a lot of materials that were like chemical made, like polyester materials, and therefore, like a lot of companies that were just like picking up the trends and generating tons of trends. That was like. I mean, all of two thousands, we're all about that, like really fast new trends, it was like the idea was you want it to be fashionable more was more like you cared about that. And I think now we're getting less is more like there are some pieces that. Our beautiful and I'm going to be beautiful for the next 20 years, while some that you know are going to last you a season and like the whole Marie Kondo situation, it's very applicable to fashion. Like, I don't know how often you purge your wardrobe, but on average and I like a garment last two years in our. Today, so that means that every two years you have a fully new wardrobe. That's a lot of clothing, that's a lot of junk that you go through and a lot of money that you end up wasting for clothes. At the end of the day, you're not super happy about like you bought them at a sale or you bought them because they were cheap and then you put them on and the material is fine. But it's not amazing. The fix is worthwhile, but it's not like an item that you put on. And I'm like, I feel wonderful. My mom has some beautiful pieces that are older than me in her wardrobe, and they still look amazing, but globalization has changed the fashion industry a lot and now we're going through a different change like the past couple of years. Where are the years of social media? So fashion used to be a very different industry, like somebody would make a few patterns, go to buyers. So they would go to like a Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom or buyers of little boutiques. And then you were producing big quantities and shipping them across America without hearing what your customers think about the clothing. Like if you wanted to see or you had to spend a day at a store and just like listen in as a designer or you have to set up interviews. Now, with, like the movement of direct to consumer that we've been having since the past 10 years, but not even that long, that you can have conversations with your customers on a daily basis, like every time we sell an item without a follow up survey of like how how do you, like, get from one to 10? How does the material make you feel? So we try to really get as much data as possible and try to have conversations directly with consumers and you learn so much faster. I heard often women saying, like, as long as I look good, I don't care how it feels. And that has been like high heeled, high heels or not great to wear. Like they're painful. That's like a trap. They're absolutely painful, but they make you taller. And when you're taller, you feel confident and you feel pretty. So a lot of time there was a choice like you had to compromise on something in order to get something else. And I'm I'm curious to see where coronaviruses going to take us. Maybe it's going to be like I don't want to make them any compromise, but certain things are sacred, like one hundred percent in comfort or. Yes.
Shikher Bhandary [00:25:19] And on that note, you know, manufacturing is just so hard. Manufacturing a physical item to consumers with constant data input is probably harder. So how do you ensure that the prototype that you are iterating with is representative of the product that you manufacture when you're dealing with, I guess, manufacturers in Germany and Italy? How does that whole process look like for you? You run some tests.
Zana Nanic [00:25:49] So I'm pretty lucky because my family has a family business in fashion and they have been in the fashion industry in Italy for 30 years now. So when I decided to start with claim, it was a little bit easier if I knew we to start a fashion company just because my my parents had older relationship. They had tested a lot of factories. So I was able to just spend the day as my family business and just understand, OK, those are like the best factories. This is who is and then is not there isn't like a best factory. Every factory is good for something. There is. If you want to do a net, there is one factory that is the best place to go. If you want to work with a certain material, like, well then it's like other factories. So like understanding the playing field, if you're especially if you're like an American and you try to go to Italy, like most of these people have websites that speak English. So it's hard. You have to go and like literally drive from factory to factory and try to understand that. And I mean, it would have taken me years to get to the point where I got from day one because I had the family, my family connection, and we ended up working with a small factory outside of Florence. So we don't work with factories in Germany, we only buy the fabric from Germany, so they send the fabric from Germany
Shikher Bhandary [00:27:19] and this is the manmade but sustainable
Zana Nanic [00:27:23] potential. And so they they help us. So we buy directly and like the way you buy fabric, their fabric store. So you go in and you attach little pieces of cloth and then you like try to use your imagination like, oh, I have like an inch by an inch. How would this look like a skirt? And they just like try to imagine how does that look? And then, like, you end up buying the fabric and like, our factory is super nice. Like, I have this amazing patternmaker. She helps me, like, bring my creations and my idea into like an actual physical product. And then we usually do a small thing, like a small sample run on like 10 pieces. And we just like where we where we wear it, we wash it, we try it and give it to our friends that we give it to like the women in the San Francisco group. So we try to give it to people and just collect the feedback. And I'm like sometimes like you have like a quality experience is amazing and you change it. That's like why we're doing this is like our testing.
Jed Tabernero [00:28:27] Can you educate me a little bit? I again, don't have much idea. And it seems like you guys are really
Shikher Bhandary [00:28:34] deep in this. Yeah. You don't need to keep saying we sorry.
Jed Tabernero [00:28:38] It is out. Is what is it about made in Italy that is so amazing. What is it and what is it. So no, because you know and I've known this since I was a child, of course, like even growing up, like having a made in Italy t shirt will be like, damn. All right. This is a really good Italian.
Shikher Bhandary [00:28:59] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jed Tabernero [00:29:00] It's Italian, you know what I mean? There we go. Another one, you know, one of the one of our best friends actually is Federico's from Milan as well. He's like the most stylish guy.
Zana Nanic [00:29:10] That's kind of a brand we Italians we have.
Jed Tabernero [00:29:13] How did that how did that surface as the center of fashion? And I don't know if you could just give me a little bit of a history lesson over here.
Zana Nanic [00:29:21] Once upon a time, like the fashion capital of Europe with Paris. So you had Coco Chanel, you had only couture houses. And the way the fashion industry work was that you would have. Buyers go to a fashion show and you would have like producers, like manufacturers go to a fashion show and the designer would have the show and people would look at the dress or look at the pants or whatever. It was like it. And you couldn't just buy quantities. You could buy one design and ask how many things you wanted to be produced and even had manufacturers who would just find a pattern so they wouldn't buy your dress or buy the product from you. They would just buy the idea, the creation. And then Milan came up with a ready to wear. So this is like the early nineteen fifties. I like I don't want to be mistaken exact date, but basically Milan came up with you can go to a fashion show and on the spot you can just buy that piece is ready to wear. It has sizes like small, medium, large, and it doesn't have to be tailored to you. So that was revolutionary at the time. So you won from a very custom made palerang process to go into the store and get out with the store from the store with an item with like a garment, which it had not been seen before. So that made like a fashion capital out of Milan, a lot of the. Like store that you see today are like reinitiated, which is the big shopping mall in the center of Glenn, that's where it all started. That's where you were buying, like ready to wear items up the business school in the land. Bocconi was born because suddenly there was a new way of thinking about manufacturing, where you would produce first and then sell later on, like getting the No down jersey and getting the orders. And the business school was built with the idea of like. We need to create a talent that can manage this new way of doing things. So I just became there ready to wear capital. And in general, I would say, like the made in Italy is very much related to the culture. Like Italy is a culture that has. A tremendous appreciation for beauty like it goes from just like so rooted in our origins. Art is so important and monuments are beautiful, like architecture. Everything around you is appreciation of beauty. I remember growing up in Italy, I never noticed. And now that I've lived in America for so long and I've been outside of Italy for so long, every time I go back, I'm like, oh wow, there is a statue on the balcony and there are some like leaves on this wall and everybody just looks so amazing. And I never notice how much how many little details are there and how everything is like. Beautiful and got out, though, like the cult, like the culture of the country is very focused, it has like a really good taste, it's like simple with some beauty that's like generations of like being like the capital of art and architecture. And just like in general, like, I think like Italy is the country with the highest number of UNESCO's sites in the world. So just by that, it should give you an idea of like it's like I'm in training. Like you go to school to learn. You go to different schools to learn business. You live in Italy and you kind of learn beauty and it kind of becomes part of your DNA. Like you spend all your life surrounded by beauty. You can tell what's beautiful and what isn't. And there's a lot of artisans in Italy. So that's very kind of the cultural DNA.
Shikher Bhandary [00:33:16] So I just wanted to touch on this topic may or may not need to go deep into it, but I guess all the recent developments with the shutdowns and the lock downs and stuff you have been sourcing internationally from Germany, Italy, how has that impacted you? And I guess is there like a silver lining that you are seeing right now that helps get through these tough times?
Zana Nanic [00:33:45] Yeah, no, definitely. Like covid has the. A huge disrupter to the fashion industry and to me in particular, because all my manufacturing is in Italy and we were aiming for our spring summer collection and the beginning of March. Now it's the start of May and we still haven't received it. So Italy shut down all manufacturing to help contain the spread of covid-19 and therefore all of the factories, pattern makers like nobody was working. And we haven't like our collection, have been delayed for two months now. Today is the 3rd of May. So tomorrow exports May. And it's like the day Italy's supposed to start reopening some of the money, like some of the manufacturing. But I literally spoke with my manufacturer before jumping on this podcast and like, he doesn't even know how it's like going back to the office tomorrow. But I have an entire list of preventive measures that they need to follow. He's not sure if employees will feel safe to go back or if that's something that they're excited to do or they want a little bit more time. So definitely the impact has been huge, like our collection has been delayed two weeks. So we are running low on inventory, on basically everything because because we couldn't restock. And it just looks scary is scary because, like. Like made in Italy went from being our greatest strength to one of our weaknesses because like because it was like I'll stop there and I was not willing to be flexible on it. I was not willing to be like, OK, like made in Italy, taking a break, let me go and produce somewhere else. And also, you know, like, you know, is it going to last a month? Is it the last two months or is in the last a year. So a little bit not knowing and a little bit of stubbornness and national pride. I decided to just wait this storm out and now they're reopening and I'm really excited about it. But definitely covid had a much bigger impact than I expected.
Adrian Grobelny [00:36:03] I wanted to jump into your vast experience of working really well known companies, for example, Uber, Google, McKinsey. Could you walk us through how you kind of maneuvered in these different positions? And I noticed you launched so many different products in different markets for different companies, and that has to be really applicable to what you're building with Reclaim.
Zana Nanic [00:36:30] Yeah, for sure. So right out of college, I think that's very applicable to people with economics or business background. But I was one of those people that had no idea what to do with their lives. So it seemed like a great option. Like it looks great on my resume, but I still am not choosing anything. So it was a great avoidance strategy, but it was a beautiful gym. Like I spent some time at McKinsey and definitely taught me, like, how to structure my thinking, like what is important in making decisions, how to solve a problem and how to structure a problem. So there's definitely something I took on with me while doing Reclaim because of the big picture thinking. I model all my sales, I model my free zones. I know exactly what like numbers I need to hit. Like I start every every thinking. We'd like a nice Excel model, a couple of lies to summarize it. And I'm not presenting it to anybody. I don't have a partner to present. I don't have a client. But just for my own sake of thinking, I love to have it all organize them. After consulting, I have this phenomenal opportunity to work it over. One day I was I remember I was working in Chicago. I was there on a nightmare project and a friend of mine called me and he was like, I you bored of consulting? I have a role that is opening up. It would be to help for start up over and in the long run and then launch it in other cities across Italy. And so it kind of like started and it was it was amazing. Like, I definitely like I love working it over. Know people have mixed opinions, but I really enjoy that, especially like in a small office like Milan, like I'm hiring most of the people that work in the office. So I had very much control over my team and the culture that we were building. It was a small office. Everybody fit in an open space, so it felt like a real family. So it was like everybody was like super young. So if I like you, we're building a company with, like, your best friends. And and we had a lot of decision making power, like the way overworks is like they give you a budget and they tell you get it done. I don't really care how. And this is what leads to a lot of mess. And if they had a lot of struggles but provided us people don't do anything crazy and become terrible human beings, that is so empowering. Like for me, having a budget and deciding how things should be structured, putting together a team, how do we measure our goals, how do we track execution or what is success? That has been the best, Jim, I could possibly have had. And it definitely helped me reclaim because it's like. Consulting is great, is really big picture thinking, but in the end of the day, you need to grind. You need to sit down and you need to call million people. You need to do the field. You need to improve. And it's a day like day after day execution game. And I think Obama gave me that some like gem of like learning how a company that has been wildly successful and has started so many, like city offices across the world, does it. And then like after figuring it out with the line, I had the opportunity to launch different cities. So it definitely like perfecting. How do we Loung, how do we think about headcount? How do we think about need economics on a daily basis? Like what? What defines success have been great. And then finally, like I worked at Google. And Google, like I have a strategy, like I had a strategy makes go to market role, which entailed like thinking about launching a product in different countries. So like some of the products that I worked on personally have been like expansions in the European market or Latin America. But that is a very it's like a mix between type of like role. It's a mix between what McKinsey used to be and what Uber is, because the company is so big and so many people are involved that you don't have the same decision making power that you would have at a smaller scale startup or just as a more decentralized startup like Uber was them. By the same time, you're not a consultant. You need to put together the plan and how to build a huge plan and then own a little piece of that plan together with so many cross-functional teams. So I the way I see Google as an experience as. What we claim might become like the learnings that Google gave me, like learning that are going to be applicable for a future reclaim, like how should it be structured, how many people should be involved in decision making? So I do see that. I spent significant time preparing to be an entrepreneur. I don't know if it's right going back, if somebody asked me, what's your biggest regret? I would probably say I wish I started sooner. You never feel ready. You always feel like I let me do something more. Let me go. Let me work for a startup. Let me go to business school. And then at the end of the day, you took like a seven year detour. And when you start, you don't really know much more than you did before or you still end up like Googling everything. So the truth is. You will not feel ready no matter what you do, and there is a time where you just need to stop preparing and just start doing it. And my staff was like, OK, now I am super confident and I'm going to be an entrepreneur. Like, it was nothing like that. It was it was a classic thing for them. And one of the professor was Eric Schmidt, the founder of Google. And literally, it was like the final day of this class called entrepreneurship and venture capital, and different groups had to present their ideas and their business plan and kind of pretend it was a VC pitch. And I remember there were so many groups that were all talking about the buzzwords of the moment, like my lack of 3D printing in the cloud. Like you pick the buzzwords that are on TechCrunch right now. We have all the combinations.
Shikher Bhandary [00:43:07] Unprecedented is like a buzzword now.
Zana Nanic [00:43:09] So, yeah. And so I remember just like looking at all the super smart Stanford MBA, that is crazy ideas. And I was like, oh my God, I'm going to go up there and talk about retail and fashion, which is not unprecedented. And I remember feeling a little bit self-conscious honestly about it. But I'm like, OK, I'm here. That's my business plan. I'm like, I've done my homework, I want to do it. I'm just going to go there and do it. So I remember presenting an after class. Eric Schmidt came up to me out of all the people that had great crazy ideas. And he was like, I think you're onto something. And it's very clear you've done your homework very well and you seem very smart. Here he goes. And he just brought me a check. And like, my company is currently 20 slides. You just got like I didn't have a bank account. I wasn't incorporated. I knew I wanted to do that postgraduation. But that was like the thing that, like, made it happen because suddenly I was responsible for other people's money and I had to incorporate in it just like accelerated everything. And that was like. April 2009. And since then, I've been August 12, 19, like four months later, I lost my first website with our first collection of products, and I was four months over summer that I spent in a manufacturing facility in Italy designing products and learning and testing them. Yeah, that was like shocking for me. And like he invested in only two fashion companies, the other one with Tory Burch. So I'm like, OK, that must be a time like I hope I have at least half the like the Tory Burch have felt like it was definitely like one of the most amazing things that happened to me
Shikher Bhandary [00:45:06] from what I've seen and read within the fashion industry. I mean, there's a lot of copying that goes on. I kind of like sneakers and kind of OK, hang on, I like sneakers and sneakers. I remember going into Zara once and noticing that literally the same shoes, the same uses, the same Balenciaga is copied straight up. And when you look into some of the laws that are meant to protect the IP, all the designs, it's pretty lax. So I guess from a strategy point of view, how do you see like this incoming competition, which basically runs the market with Zara, with, I guess, fashion or now even Gucci copies? All birds are suing Steve Madden. So it's like all over like it's the whole software. So how do you see that playing into the brand that you're building?
Zana Nanic [00:46:04] Yeah, so. Copying in the fashion industry as. A very big problem because. Type of legal protection that you have over a clothing design is very, very limited, like unless you come up with something that has never been seen before and I'm talking about like technical materials or something that you can Pathans, like chemical composition or a different way of. Locking something like a mechanism for a bag like it's extremely hard for you to be able to tap into design because most of that stuff has some roots somewhere else, like you can say, this is this person. But then when you look at it like, no, the same design has inspired by the Japanese kimono, or it has roots in the Vietnamese like traditional dress. So just like in establishing origin is extremely hard and creative industries in general. So and and you see and you see that there was a trend where I mean, this way, fast fashion work is like the big designers do a fashion show and all the teams and all the colors and all the biggest designs that wear on the runway that week suddenly become of top fashion pieces two weeks later. So that's kind of like how like copying the industry is very, very common. Like people take a lot of inspiration from each other and like designers themselves would be like I was inspired by this historical designer or disaster designer into like doing your line. This is why Brand is so important and so people are loyal to brands. And if you build a brand that does resonate and. Like some inner values of people, that's when you can get customer loyalty like. Even if your design is copied, you want to make sure that people come back to you, that people that purchase purchase back to you and also just trying to stay like trying to stay ahead of the trend and just coming up with, like the second generations of your product and just always like being true to this desire to innovate and be better. That's like the two ways I see to protect against copycats. One is definitely like strive with all our efforts to just like improve on our products so we can always have like the next generation when the like with the wave of copy start and second is building a brand that starts resonating so that you are like, I want to have a reclaim piece because that's a brand I like. I like very similar to say. I want to have a piece of another brand, and I don't care if there's a copycat somewhere, if you like your Balenciaga shoes, you like them because it sounds like not because you can find the same exact shoes at the department store. Gotcha.
Jed Tabernero [00:49:06] This is the first time I'm hearing of a fashion brand reaching out to the communities and making sure they iterate the product based on the problems that are talked about in that community would really stuck out to me was that when you would get a sale, you would engage with the user. And that's something I think that's very unique in this time and place, especially now that people are selling a lot more things online. But I think that's niche.
Zana Nanic [00:49:30] Yeah, and you learn a lot. I remember like my first couple of calls were very surprising to me because in my head I was building a brand for somebody who was very much like me. So the to the customer I had in my head was a single made twenty like like blood driven, ambitious working woman. And then I started doing customer interviews and a lot of people were like early moms who just have babies and they're like, I do not feel comfortable, like I do not feel appropriate wearing yoga pants. But I wish I could have the same level of comfort because my professional looking pants or jeans are just terrible after having given birth. But so like did mom demographic, it was was one that I did not explore as much. And then like so many of my customers are early moms and they love the practicality of the product. And that to me was like, I learned something new. Yeah.
Adrian Grobelny [00:50:34] So you've you've lived in so many different parts of the world, from Croatia to Milan, Italy to New York, San Francisco. What have you taken away from living in so many different locations that has really shaped you to the person you are today and to building reclaim?
Zana Nanic [00:50:53] My travel bug is very much related to my upbringing. So I. I came to Italy when I was three months old, running away from the war in Yugoslavia, so I grew up as a refugee and my family had a really hard time when we first moved to Italy to adopt because it didn't speak the language and then to reinvent themselves, like my mom was an architect. My dad I don't want to remember what he was doing, but he was doing something completely unrelated. And then suddenly there in Italy and the topic of like the industry to be in in Italy is fashion. So they started their fashion company a little bit by chance and a little bit because they couldn't find jobs without speaking proper Italian. So. Growing up, adaptability and just feeling outside of my comfort zone was a constant, so I was always like trying to integrate in a new environment and just like being a third culture kid, like I had a culture that was home in my like in my household, which was a very much a Croatian household. And then suddenly you go out and your school, your friends, your street, everything you know is Italian. And if I was like going back to Croatia, I didn't really feel at home because I'm like, I don't know these people I didn't like. I don't go to school here. So I felt very weird. And being in Italy, I didn't feel fully Italian because so much of my whole life was from a different culture. So you develop like this culture, culture. Can you develop a culture that is kind of like just your own is a little bit of a blend of both them, and then you kind of get the travel bug because you're like you're so adaptable and you can be thrown into a different country and you just kind of like figure it out in a new friends of group. You're the one who, like, works the through. It just makes you a little bit more risk averse and more adventurous just because like being outside of your comfort zone, it's kind of like your comfort zone. So that to me and like traveling around the world and just seeing how different people live and adapting to that definitely played a really big part of Reclaim because like the story told at the beginning, like, oh, I was in this new different job and I had to figure out how to adapt and like culture, kind of like the first step into blending in, kind of where when people around your wearing and you try to mimic how people talk. And I remember as a teenager, I would like pick up the clothes really fast, become the slang really fast, because I just was so used to playing this game of like. OK, like, let me blend in and let me be part of this, and it's second nature to me, I don't even notice, like sometimes my friends are like, who is your true self? And I'm like. That's me, like I like I don't I don't lie is just how I am, like my friends make so much out of me because people when people ask me where I'm from, depending on my mood sometimes and Croatian sometimes I'm Italian, I'm them both. So I so there is a girl problem, but like depending on my mood or who am I speaking to, I like decide how much I want to share and which nationality is easier for me to get by with.
Adrian Grobelny [00:54:17] No, we can, we can all for sure relate to that. We all speak a second language is all of is some of us immigrated. And Chicca, it's I think it's really fun having kind of like a blend of cultures where you can kind of pick and choose which culture you want to be feeling like.
Zana Nanic [00:54:35] And it's still hard, like literally like it was a blessing that Italy did not make the work of this past work, because I'm like, I don't have to decide for my rooting for the Croatia or Italy. I guess the hardest when they're like competing in soccer is that it's hard. Like the family literally divide people like don't talk for two days. It's like it's just like you need to, like, save their allegiance is. And that is particularly hard. But at the same time, like, I think there is beauty into being like a global citizen. Like when people ask you like. Where is home? I don't know where home is, but I can tell you where my favorite restaurant is and where my favorite bar is and what's my favorite street and one might be in Paris. Another one we might be in San Francisco or in Milan. But like I can tell you, so many places that make me feel good and make me feel comfortable and. I don't have a city that feels like home because it's just like I move so often and I just have so many different chapters of my life in different places. So I think there is something beautiful about that, too. And again, like, I have a very fluid understanding of nationality, if you think about it, like I was born in a country that does not exist anymore. I was born in Yugoslavia. My first passport was a citizen of Yugoslavia. And the country does not exist like it's that bunch of different countries and so many places in the world went through similar transformations. So what does it mean to be French or what does it mean to be American? I think each person should define it for themselves because, like, the idea of nationality is a little bit more fluid than what the majority of the people think because. Yeah, like. The country was born in doesn't even exist anymore, so what nationality is that?
Jed Tabernero [00:56:33] Yeah, I think it's such an amazing skill to be adaptable. I think all all four of us in this call have gone through pretty similar situations in trying to integrate. And it is such an important skill, let me tell you that. And it's so amazing that you brought up clothing, but being the first article that you kind of change, I had to change my wardrobe completely. I mean, if you can imagine, I came from the islands. I was 18 years old. You know, I had a certain way addressed, which was tank top shorts and slippers. Like that was the most basic thing when I came here. You can
Shikher Bhandary [00:57:08] do. I remember when I moved here, I was into Crocs. I'd say it was crocs. And apparently that's a bad thing now.
Zana Nanic [00:57:17] And then recently, give me my life.
Shikher Bhandary [00:57:20] I walked in. I was I thought I was stylish. And crocs are not good. And I think people are wearing Jordans that I'm like, what is that?
Jed Tabernero [00:57:28] I spent like literally three weeks in Europe and I changed completely. I came home with espadrilles with, you know, different kinds of shirt. I never would have worn a shirt like this until I went to Barcelona and Majorca and I was just like, jeez, I'm going to dress like a Spanish man. But it's a different thing. But culture is super duper interesting. I just think it's so cool that you brought all of these things together to build the company. And it's still a part of your identity, a part of the identity of Reclaim. And I think that's absolutely you know, that's something that we can connect with and a lot of Americans can as well.
Shikher Bhandary [00:58:04] Firstly, if hypothetically there's an Italy versus Croatia game, who are you going?
Zana Nanic [00:58:10] Oh, it happened only once in my life. And we went to a betting company like the one where you bet he's going to
Shikher Bhandary [00:58:19] buy
Zana Nanic [00:58:19] whatever. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I don't remember now. My brother took me and my brother put like two hundred dollars on Italy winning and I put two hundred dollars on Croatia winning and then we were cheering for the opposite team. OK, well no matter who won, it was a great outcome. So that was kind of like our go go with
Jed Tabernero [00:58:39] our McKensie from the start strategy on.
Shikher Bhandary [00:58:44] That's great. Oh yeah. No second question is more like so say you're just about to wind up where we are. But if people want to reach out to you, see the stuff you've designed or just follow you on social media, where can they reach out to you and where can they see more of the incredible things that you're creating?
Zana Nanic [00:59:05] Yes, thank you so much for asking. I always forget to mention that you are out, but I'm on Instagram, you can find me on this is Reclaimer and the website is this is reclaimed dotcom. And I'm super available over emails like if you shoot any an of hello, this is reclaimed dotcom, somebody in the team will like respond for sure. Like, we really care about everything about that. Thank you so much for this. I had a lot of fun.