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Fireside chat with Marina Pengilly&Lexi Willetts, Founders of Little Black Door

Who is Marina Pengilly?

Former founder of lifestyle brand Who Loves You & Retail Consultant, Marina offers a background of product and brand development, driving commercial projects from inception to reality. Retail and start-up enthusiast, Marina has worked with numerous retail focused start-up projects. Mainly focusing on fashion and lifestyle brands, she has a recurring history of understating concepts, producing real product, and taking them to market. This ultimately led her to become the co-founder and CMO of Little Black Door, whom she founded with her former boss, Lexi.

Who is Lexi Willetts?

The Birmingham Blonde, Lexi is a former IP lawyer and Head of IP for FIFA, Lexi spent her first career representing football clubs and luxury brands. After gaining a first-class masters in Luxury Brand Management, she repositioned as COO, working within the consumer tech space, and now founder of Little Black Door. 

What’s the story behind Little Black Door?

In 2018 we were on a work trip, living out of suitcases (again), and one afternoon found ourselves in Zara. Lexi picked up a top in Marina said, you have that and you’ve got three of them! And that’s how it started; a momentary life observation, coupled with a realisation that we’d lost awareness of what fashion we owned and it was leading to overbuying and underusing. That made us look at what else we were doing with fashion; how we were buying it, particularly online, how we used it, styled it, shared ion social medial with others and how we sold it in the secondary market.  We took all off this and said, yep there’s a product that threads this together -for both the consumer to get them wearing or re-selling their fashion more easily and the fashion industry, who could use us to create more sustainable fashion customers.  Aka Little Black Door, the social wardrobe. 

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

Our product is capable of doing so many things! Working through what we wanted to create and honing in on core features took some discipline, especially as everyone has their own opinion of what we could be to them. 

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

So much! Creating a truly new product that has the opportunity to reshape our fashion buying behaviours and elongate the lifecycle of the is a big tick for us and. We’ve also created some 300 digital work experience placements for young women, pretty proud of that. 

What is your vision for the future of Little Black Door?

That every women has her wardrobe on her phone! That we become the technology that truly connects the fashion consumer with the primary and secondary fashion markets in way that supports relevant shopping choices, promotes use of fashion and ease of moving item to resale. 

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

You’ve got to see this as a positive, otherwise you will lose your mind! You get through this, you get through anything… Focus on a narrower remit, and be prepared to switch if its not working. 

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

AI and natural language processing tech – we’re using this to power some core features for the app. We’ve looked at blockchain – maybe this has a future within our business.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

  • Candice Brathwaite –  Sista Sister (every woman should read this)
  • LBD member – Hannah Tovey – The Education of Ivy Edwards (A totally hilarious and relatable romantic comedy)
  • Happy Not Perfect – Poppy Jamie
  • Dare to lead – Brene Brown
  • Bob Proctor – Born Rich

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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