Q&A With the Daniels Student Co-founders of Nadira: Catalina Sepulveda and Annika Sisac
Nadira is an emerging startup born from the Daniels class, First Idea to First Dollar Sale. Nadira was founded by DU students Catalina Sepulveda, Annika Sisac, Channing Cole and Emily Coleman.
Sepulveda is a freshman majoring in management and international business and minoring in entrepreneurship. She grew up in Santiago, Chile, before moving to Portland, Oregon, in 2015. Sisac is a freshman majoring in business marketing, as well as media and film production, and minoring in entrepreneurship. She grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Q: Tell me about Nadira. What do you do and how did you get started?
Sisac: Nadira is a fashion company that crafts trendy clothing pieces from recycled material sourced from Goodwill bins. So we go to donation centers where we find old fabric and clothes and then we create our own patterns for unique pieces. Every piece that we make and sell is completely unique—nobody else will ever have something like it! It brings fashion confidence to girls our age. We also recently added a unisex line of T-shirts.
Sepulveda: We all love sewing and fashion, so we knew we wanted to do something with clothes. But we also feel strongly about the environment, and none of us likes shopping Fast Fashion, so we kind of put two and two together and started flipping clothes into new, trendy things.
Q: How did you get involved with Entrepreneurship@DU and the First Idea to First Dollar Sale class?
Sisac: I found out about this class through the Fourth Industrial Revolution course. [Director of Entrepreneurship@DU] Joshua Ross was my professor in that class, and I asked him how to continue pursuing my business. I really liked taking part in the Madden Challenge, and he said I should take my idea to the First Idea to First Dollar Sale class. That’s where I met all my teammates.
Q: So none of you knew each other before First Idea to First Dollar Sale?
Sepulveda: Yes, we all met in the class! Anna and I, and Emily and Channing, we realized we all were interested in fashion. At the beginning of the year there was a discussion board on Canvas and we were all talking about sewing. So that was the first time we all linked up. Before then we were complete strangers. Then after, we spent pretty much every day together.
Q: Did either of you have experience in startups before Nadira?
Sisac: I actually was involved in the YEA Program—the Young Entrepreneurs Academy—in eighth grade. It was this competition where you have to come up with an idea and present it to a panel of local judges. That was my first exposure to getting out in the community and starting a business.
Sepulveda: I’ve never done anything like this. Before taking the class, I wanted to pursue an entrepreneurship minor. When I went to see the requirements of the minor, I saw the First Idea to First Dollar Sale course. It seemed interesting because I’ve always had a ton of ideas, I’ve just never pursued them. So I thought, “I need to take this class!” I even talked to my counselor so I could fit the extra class into my schedule.
Q: What makes Nadira stand out in the fashion industry?
Sepulveda: Trends move fast in the fashion industry and fast fashion tries to keep up, so they’re constantly making clothes in great quantities and without being environmentally conscious. They are also of poor quality, so it’s cheaper. Which is why people are more drawn to this, it’s trendy and affordable, but in the long run, we want to promote doing your part, protecting people and the environment. On top of that, Nadira is a way to take on trends from a unique perspective. Instead of wearing the same shirt that everyone has, it’s the same style but different and unique to you and that makes you stand out.
Sisac: I know for me, the mission of our business was a personal thing. When I grew up, I didn’t wear the same clothes as everyone else and I was always sourcing unique items. When I was little, I wore things like witch’s leggings and skirts and I never really dressed “mainstream,” so I wanted to bring that to other people through fashion.
I’m also really involved in environmental sustainability. I love the outdoors and I think we all need to be stewards to the planet. And beyond that, fast fashion (e.g. Shein, Romwe, Forever 21 ) source from new fabric instead of existing and recycled fabrics. And they’re also getting workers from overseas, paying them extremely low wages while they work in dangerous conditions. So our goal is to create our fashion both sustainably and ethically, to combat these issues.
Be sure to follow Nadira on Instagram @nadirathrift!