“Many people do not know what wonderful things exist out there“
Interview with Ronja Scherzinger, Founder & CEO of FashionTouri
At first Ronja Scherzinger had a passion for fashion, then she discovered her love for travelling. Eventually this resulted in an idea for the start-up "FashionTouri". In this interview, Ronja openly and honestly shares how it evolved from the initial idea to her own company.
Why are you interested in fashion and travelling?
Ronja Scherzinger: I grew up with fashion because I lived above my great-grandfather's department store. When I was a child, I also started to advise customers and was set on the idea that the customer is king. I learned from my environment at that time that a lot of time goes into business activities. I noticed early on: clothes make the man. I think that fashion is an expression of individuality
And how did you develop your interest in travelling?
Ronja Scherzinger: During my childhood I did not make much long-distance travels with my family. Travelling only became “a thing” with my grandma, who loved travelling. As a high school graduation award she gifted me with a trip to Jamaica. That was my first big trip, which opened up new horizons for me. I realized that there are so many other things to see and discover in the world. During my studies, I mainly travelled in Europe. I went on cruises with my grandma every now and then. I really got into travelling when I had a job. Then I just wanted to see the world!
How did you come up with the idea of founding FashionTouri?
Ronja Scherzinger: The cruises with my grandmother gave me a little bit of an idea for FashionTouri, because you always only visit a place for a short time. I always felt the need to take something home from a new city. It should always be something as individual and local as possible. At some point I thought about it: What do people who visit Vienna and seek the special shopping pleasures do? At first I thought about finding a concept that would appeal to an exclusive clientele. But I didn't pursue this idea any further, because I wanted to create something for a diverse target group. For a long time, I was lacking precise ideas.
In the summer of 2016, I thought more about this idea, because I couldn't let go of it. In one evening I presented all my ideas to my family and friends and immediately afterwards I secured the domain fashiontouri.com. The next thing I thought about was the name. The name should combine both: Fashion and tourism. FashionTouri is internationally understandable and people know immediately what it is about. It was important to me from the beginning to have this community thought. Through the community you get a feeling of belonging, especially if you operate in the same network.
What did you do exactly in order to transform your idea into a start-up company?
Ronja Scherzinger: Soon I realized that my idea for FashionTouri is actually a start-up company. At that time I actually had little idea about how to start a business. I knew that the association "Austrian Start-Ups" existed and contacted the then founder Christoph Jeschke. He put me in touch with Lisa-Marie Fassl, who founded the "Female Founders" initiative at the time. When I presented my idea at a meeting there, silence returned to the room. I received a lot of confirmation, which I needed a lot in the beginning. Some time after that, I joined the project "Business Riot Vienna" and took various courses on the subject of start-ups. In front of a jury I presented the idea of FashionTouri and won the prize in the category "Early Stage". The following year I participated with FashionTouri at the "Women Startup Competition Europe" in Vienna. There I won the Audience Award and the main prize from the jury. So I landed in London in the next round of the competition and won the prize for "Crowdfunding". At the end of the year 2017 I established FashionTouri as a company.
What was your biggest challenge while etsablishing your own company?
Ronja Scherzinger: First of all, I had to consider which form of company would be suitable for FashionTouri. I didn't have much experience in business, but I could get support from my father in this area. There are also a lot of official channels that you have to go through, but you take them on by yourself. If you have your goal clearly in mind, and if you haven't given up for a long time, then you accept all the paths you have to follow.
What were some of the most beautiful moments while founding your own company?
Ronja Scherzinger: To receive confirmation from other people and to see the shining eyes when you present your own idea is something that motivates me every time and I just stick to it. It convinces me that I'm doing everything right and that it will be worth it, at some point, to have walked this hard road. It is also the reactions of companies that say: I have been waiting for something like this for ages. The beginning is rocky and difficult, but the greatest appreciation for this project would be if a company came to us at some point and said: “Because you exist, we didn't have to close down.”
What advice would you give to young women, who are interested in starting their own company?
Ronja Scherzinger: The most important thing is to support each other from the very beginning. As a lone wolf, you won't get far. If you want something from someone, for example financial support or a cooperation, try to present it in a way so that the other person can benefit from it. It is also incredibly important to learn from the knowledge and mistakes of others. In general, I would also say that in certain situations you need to be secured and set priorities right at the beginning.
Which companions would you like to thank?
Ronja Scherzinger: First and foremost my parents Frank and Annerosel. They made me to the person I am today. My parents have always supported me on my path of life and have given me the opportunity to go my own way. They always stood by me in the ups and downs of the project and always encouraged me not to give up, because FashionTouri is also in their eyes very valuable and could help so many people in this world. I am grateful to my grandparents Waltraud and Klaus for helping me financially in my entrepreneurial ambitions. Without their support, FashionTouri would not exist and the trading history of our family would not live on.
I would especially like to thank my sister Bianca for her mental support and her sense of justice, which she passed on to me. But she also taught me that if you fall off a horse, you have to get back on it.
Bianca is an entrepreneur herself and the mother of my two nephews Benjamin and Simon. I am impressed by her courage, her strength and her endurance. I can still learn a lot from her.
Then of course I would like to thank the FashionTouri team. All those who helped to build FashionTouri and did not give up on the realization of a crazy idea, even in difficult times.
A big thanks also goes to my circle of friends! For listening, inspiration and motivation to put new plans into action.
What is your wish for the future of FashionTouri?
Ronja Scherzinger: I wish that someday, under the red hat (NB symbol of FashionTouri) you have a symbol where you know: this shop has a red hat, it belongs to the FashionTouri community. The most beautiful idea is, if every child can eventually know what this red hat means. We will not manage to make all people change their minds but it would be nice if we could create the awareness that there is another and better way of doing things. We want to get to the point where companies can increase their sales by using our website. On the other hand, we want to provide inspiration and education to our users. Many people do not know what wonderful things exist out there. The biggest wish I have for myself is to make this project a reality and accompany it as long as possible.
Edited by Paloma Pöltinger
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