Suit & Simple’s concept of affordable suiting is the perfect fit for young professionals
Going to college is challenging enough, but it’s only a preparation for the competitive job search ahead.
In theory, a college student who earns high marks, participates in campus life and interns at a good organization should be able to get a good job in their desired field. But the reality is completely different. In reality, employers look for college graduates who attended the right college, completed the right internship experience with the right companies and now possess the right attitude and personality to fit in with the company.
So. What happens when a skilled young professional is automatically at a disadvantage during the interview process because she can’t afford a designer suit that the other candidates can?
Enter Suit & Simple, a startup founded by two women looking to change the market for in women’s workwear. Harvard graduate Milly Wang and designer Rani Maiti partnered up to create stylish, budget-friendly suiting that doesn’t compromise on high-quality fit and fabric. Wang, from Toronto, earned her degree in Economics and Statistics while Maiti, who grew up in Mexico, earned her degree in Fashion Design, with internships in New York City, including Christian Siriano.
The duo’s combined talent—Wang’s business expertise and Maiti’s design acumen—is a winning combination for Suit & Simple’s strategy.
The core capsule collection consists of a tailored blazer, pencil skirt and white blouse, which are available for pre-order on the company’s Indiegogo page. Once Suit & Simple has raised sufficient funding, Wang and Maiti will expand the product to offer more colors and styles.
Co-founder Wang sat down and answered some questions about how Suit & Simple started, what it’s like to launch a business and what’s next for the brand:
How did you and Rani meet each other in New York City?
We lived in the same building during our summer internship! Actually, it wasn’t even a conventional apartment building – it used to be an old church that was turned into a boarding house. I lived on the first floor and Rani lived on the third floor. There was a cafeteria in the building and that was how you’d get the chance to meet the other people who lived in the building. I was usually at work and didn’t spend much time in the cafeteria, but when I did, I met a lot of fascinating people—doctors, researchers, ballerinas, those in marketing or finance, and of course Rani, who was in fashion. We clicked right away because we had a lot of common interests, but we only became really close because Rani asked me to be her fit model for the runway collection that she was making for her thesis. It turned out that I was the perfect size for it, and since I loved Project Runway, I figured, why not? And that’s how it all got started!
Before Suit & Simple, what were you originally planning on doing for your professional career? Did you ever intend on launching your own business?
Fashion and finance. It has a nice ring to it actually! For me, it’s always been a dream of mine to create something with my own two hands that’s able to help and impact others in a positive way – and it just so happens that Suit & Simple is the easiest way for me to achieve that. I think of entrepreneurship and businesses as a means to a goal, and not the goal itself!
When did you decide that the time was right to launch Suit & Simple?
That is a great question because I still ask myself that every day! Honestly, I think that if I had ever waited for the right time, or waited for when I felt like I was ready, then I’d never have gotten started. I don’t think that there’s a right time or that I’ll ever be completely ready. True, you could try to time the market or figure out when the best month, the best season, or the best location. You could study and learn for years to gain the skills and experience necessary, but at the end of the day, I think you’ve just got to get out there and do it. You’ve got to take the first step because then all the other steps afterward will be much easier.
I’ve struggled through many challenges with Suit & Simple because there was so much that I didn’t know, but I’ve learned so much along the way, and I’ve had to learn it all extremely quickly because of the time pressure. But I loved every single moment of it!
There is no guaranteed success, but I truly think that if you’re passionate, and you believe in the idea, then just go out there and do it. Don’t stress about failing, because everyone fails at some point in their lives. All that matters is that you pick yourself right back up and learn from your mistakes. Don’t wait for the right time or the right moment, because that time might never come. Whatever the time may be, you have the power to make it the right time!
What have you been your favorites part about launching Suit & Simple?
My favorite part is all the love and support that we’ve gotten throughout this entire process! It’s just been so wonderfully unexpected to hear from people their struggles finding affordable suits and to know that we’re all in the same boat. Frankly, nothing makes me happier than knowing that people do share the same worries and that our product will ultimately be able to help someone land the job that they want. This whole thing wouldn’t have been possible without everyone’s encouragement and support, so just wanted to thank everyone who’s supported us!
What has been the most challenging part of launching Suit & Simple?
There’s been a lot of challenges, especially since it’s the first time either Rani or I have done anything like this, so we’ve had to figure everything out. For me, I’ve had to learn the process of finding suppliers, learn to negotiate timelines and pricing, learn to build our website, and find photographers and videographers – but all that is a walk in the park compared to figuring out our marketing strategies. Of course, I’m probably biased because I always think that the challenge that I’m currently facing is the hardest since I’ve already overcome all of the previous challenges, but marketing is hard!
A product can the next best thing since cheese (I love cheese!), but if no one knows about it, then it’s pretty useless. We want to help as many people as possible with our product, and that’s why we’re really trying to make a big push to get ourselves out there in front of the people who could really benefit from a good quality suit at a super affordable price. Since neither of us comes from a marketing background, it’s been baby steps all the way.
Describe the Suit & Simple customer.
We designed the suit with two key points in mind: quality and price. The Suit & Simple customer is someone who deserves quality but also deserves to be able to get a suit without breaking the bank.
To that end, we see a lot of potential out there: young high school and college students who are looking for their first suit, aspiring professionals looking for the perfect suit to wear to an interview, young professionals looking for a versatile and quality addition to their wardrobe, working women who want a great suit at a great price, and even budding entrepreneurs who need a suit and are frugal.
I personally believe that the most successful entrepreneurs are the most frugal – because they really know how to maximize value in an efficient way. If you can get such a great suit at such a great price, you’ll be able to use the money you’ve saved in other areas of your business!
Where do you see Suit & Simple in five years from now?
Five years from now, we’d like to have expanded to offering blouses, skirts, and blazers in various colors, shades, and patterns. We hope to be a brand that women across America will come to for their first suit and all their suit needs!
What advice would you give to another woman interested in launching a fashion start-up?
The one advice that I’d have is to go ahead and get started! The first step is always the hardest, but once you get over that fear of failure, you’ll be impressed by how ready you actually are and how capable you are. It’s always important to surround yourself with supportive friends, just as it’s important to have people who will be honest with you and who you can bounce ideas off of.
If you’re looking for a co-founder, I personally think that dedication and passion to the vision trump even practical skills that they may have. No matter how skilled someone is, and how much you need their skill, if they don’t share the same love for your vision and your idea, then it’s very hard for them to stay motivated and give their 100% for it.
How can people follow Suit & Simple?
Please support us by placing an order through our Indiegogo campaign
and follow us on our social media platforms. Share with friends and family and help us spread the word—we’d love for you to join us on our mission to make women’s professional wear more affordable!
Interview has been condensed and edited for clarity