Many young entrepreneurs come to a point in their lives where they have to decide just how much they believe in their vision and how far they’re willing to go to make it happen. The road to success is paved with many unknown routes, thorn-covered bushes and illegible road signs where losing your way is what one must do to survive and ultimately thrive. Starting anything from the ground up can be extremely daunting and challenging and not everyone can do it. It takes a certain charachter to endure the times when all around you seems like it’s crumbling down. It’s even more difficult to do so when you’re guided by moral reasons rather than just pure profit and that’s a quality trait in an entrepreneur we find most admirable.
Hannon Comazzetto is the CEO and founder of Australian fashion start-up AirRobe, a reCommerce platform aimed at bridging the gap between brand and customer through a circular economy. Customers are able to sell, rent, recycle, or donate items through this new online shopping option added to our website. What really inspired us to give Hannon her well-deserved spotlight in our Cool Faces of Bastet Noir series, was how refreshingly passionate she was in bringing forth her business idea, and introducing something we have not heard of before in the fashion industry. By harnessing intel and experience through her previous work engagements, she built a company from the ground up, and is now ready to share her success story and give other young entrepreneurs the metaphorical thumbs up to just go for it. If you’d like to know more about Hannon just keep on reading!
Who is Hannon Comazzetto?
An environmentalist at heart, set to solve the biggest problems facing the planet. I’m not one for corporate mediocrity or accepting ‘the way its always been’. I’ve learnt we can create generational change with solutions so simple they’re overlooked. Right now I’m focused on AirRobe, working alongside an incredibly talented and passionate team to create real impact globally. We believe that we can work together to build new value into a troubled fashion industry. One that focuses on creating circular systems. And transform one of the world’s biggest polluters into a model for sustainability.
What’s your morning routine like?
My only true routine is coffee. Some mornings I do yoga or a HIIT workout. After that I’ve found I love to start my working day with a deep dive into the most important AirRobe focus for that day. I’m so passionate about what we’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work. I typically do this before getting into my emails or looking at the mountain of messages from my team in other timezones.
You are the CEO and Founder of AirRobe, a resale marketplace aimed to help consumers participate in sustainable fashion practices by reselling their pieces right on the website they’ve purchased their items from. We are part of the AirRobe family, and immediately fell in love with the concept when we heard about it. Could you tell us a bit more about how the whole business concept came to be?
I wanted to find a way to make it easier for shoppers to make more sustainable choices and make some money at the same time. All the reCommerce solutions I saw out there were focused only on the consumer side and ignored the retailer/fashion brand side. I believed there was a way to work with fashion retailers, designers, and the whole ecosystem to change the industry for the better. I spent about 9 months going very deep into the industry, speaking to hundreds of consumers, fashion retailers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders with the goal of intimately understanding the problems before trying to build the solution. This led me to the realisation that what the industry needed was a solution that on the one hand makes it easy and fun for consumers to enter the circular economy, and on the other hand, brings fashion brands into that world in a way that is actually financially beneficial for them.
Is Airrobe your introduction to the circular economy and re-commerce, or has there been a pivotal moment in your career before Airrobe that pushed you towards this direction?
I’ve been a thrifter long before starting AirRobe…as a teenager, I loved digging for treasures at Sunday markets and vintage stores. So I’ve always valued recommerce as a consumer — but the pivotal moment and what pushed me to ultimately launch AirRobe was working in M&A strategy consulting. We were working with some global fashion brands and I got to see the devastation of the fashion industry from an environmental perspective up close and personal. That really drove home the urgency of the fashion waste problem and brought to light the massive opportunity AirRobe’s offering could harness.
Three things you wish you knew before starting out?
Celebrate the wins and appreciate any gaps and pauses: No matter how big or small, whatever ‘win’ you get, let that drive you and foster more of the same. And in the same vein, absorb and reflect during any moments you have your foot off the gas — of your doing or not. It’s so important to value your time professionally and personally, but keep your mental, emotional and physical health front of mind.
Don’t feel the need to take the conventional path, do what motivates you: I think it’s really important to think about some of the challenges in the world that you would really like to focus on, and what motivates you. It’s a bit trite to quote Steve Jobs but he has this amazing line that “everything around you that you call life was made up by people who were no smarter than you”. It’s a really powerful idea that can help give you the confidence to shoot for the stars.”
Simply hire great people: I read about the concept of “getting the right people on the bus” from Jim Collins’ Good to Great years ago. But it really wasn’t until putting this into practice that I recognised the true power in this. In the early stages of a company, priorities adapt regularly and the role at hand changes month to month. For the best hires, it’s always been less about skills mapping.
Biggest setback in life and what you’ve learned from it?
It’s hard to think of a particular setback, I won’t sugarcoat it, there have been many challenges! Leaving my comfortable corporate job to launch something new by myself was a really daunting decision. It was a real risk but I had been watching the industry for a long time and felt strongly that there was a gap not being filled. I knew where to start and that I was building something that I wanted to use as a consumer, which is something you can always come back to. Because I took that risk I now get to work on my passion every day — so I guess the lesson here is not to settle for being comfortable when you know what you really want.
Books that changed your life
I’m a bit of a startup bookworm. I love reading about the often crazy stories of great founders. Good to Great by Jim Collins and Radical Candor by Kim Scott have really stuck with me and shaped how I operate at AirRobe.
Favorite female empowerment speech
Typically I can’t go past anything from Indra Nooyi. But to pick ‘the’ speech? Emma Watson’s UN address to launch HeForShe. It goes to the core of the issue, doesn’t finger point and inspires an impactful shift in mindset in three words.
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