Gina Mancuso, Founder and CEO, LoveThatFit
What are you innovating on right now?
I am developing a virtual fit technology that is licensed to retailers so their shoppers can see the actual look, fit and size of clothing, in-store and online, just from uploading a full body photo. Then their shoppers will know exactly what size they are in every garment. They can even mix and match outfits, share with friends and save everything in their own personal closet. Retailers that are licensing the LoveThatFit technology will not only increase sales, but decrease returns, which cost retailers $14 billion per year.
What inspired you to follow an entrepreneurial path?
I have always found opportunities in the things I love or am passionate about. When I was competing professionally in equestrian show jumping I saw an opportunity to import Dutch Warmbloods into the states and train and re-sell them. Then, while I was attending the University of Miami and working in the fitness center, an opportunity arose to own a gym, which I did then sold in 18 months. I have always had an issue with clothing fit, which makes me feel self conscious, and I know others do to, so I set out to solve the problem. No one enjoys trying clothes on, especially when you grab a size too small. I aim to create a positive shopping experience that benefits both the retailer and shopper.
Tell us what you learned from your biggest failure.
Most important is trusting my own instincts to and not making assumptions. Never assume, ever. When something does not feel right, it most likely isn’t. When I first started LoveThatFit, I hired a professional developer with a good reputation to build out the platform. After several meetings and milestone payments made, I began to get a weird feeling, and soon discovered that I had nothing more than a shell website, and not the features that had been promised. I assumed that because this person was well known in the community that I should not worry, and I was wrong. Now when I feel something is not right, I triple check what’s going on.
How does Charlottesville as a place support or fuel your innovations?
Charlottesville is great in many ways. The Charlottesville Business Innovation Council (CBIC) has been a tremendous support to me and an excellent avenue to meet helpful people. LoveThatFit is headquartered in the Darden iLab, which is also a great support and community. Working everyday with other like-minded entrepreneurs is not only fun but inspiring. When I’m trying to troubleshoot something or just need to talk something out, I am surrounded by a group of people who get it and can chime in. I am excited to grow LoveThatFit in Charlottesville.
What would you change or keep the same in Charlottesville?
I travel a lot for LoveThatFit, and traveling to and from Charlottesville can be frustrating. Often I must take four flights in one day to get to NYC for a lunch meeting.
What is your biggest need right now to advance your innovation?
Capital and growing the LoveThatFit user base. We are currently piloting with a number of retailers and need more people to create their LoveThatFit account, to try out the fitting technology and provide us with feedback.
What is the view from your office like on a typical day?
Mannequins, clothing and fellow entrepreneurs 🙂