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Seven years ago, Imran Amed founded the blog Business of Fashion to channel his perspective on the industry. Just last year Amed accepted the first outside investment in his company, a $2.5 million sum from Index Ventures (which also invests in ASOS, Net-A-Porter, and Etsy), LVMH, and Carmen Busquets (a founding investor in Net-A-Porter). The Telegraph caught up with Amed to get a behind-the-scenes look at the BoF success story from its start-up blog beginnings to the global audience it commands now.
"For the first six years I invested my own money," Amed said. "At first, it was only $100 to set up a Typepad blogging account. Then, over the years, I invested in tech development, web design, branding, salaries for my team, etc." Now, BoF boasts a global reach with over 1.6 million dedicated followers. According to the article, 40% of BoF's traffic comes from the UK (where BoF is based), 40% comes from America and 20% from Asia.
Despite the new influx of investment money, BoF's London office remains an unassuming and small affair. The core team is comprised of 11 members, some with established fashion backgrounds and others fresh from internships.
Amed's own background wasn't always fashion-focused. "In the daytime I was studying at school and in the evenings I was a stage kid," he said. "I was trained in theatre and public speaking. I was a really active kid." Amed told the Telegraph that he would wake up at 4am every day to do his math homework.
Amed holds business degrees from McGill and Harvard, and has held various management consultancy jobs with high profile companies. However, by the age of 30, he was experiencing career burnout. His company offered him a three-month sabbatical, which he used to travel to a Vipassana meditation center in South Africa. "It's the most intense thing I've ever done," Amed told the Telegraph. "You have to sit in complete silence 10 hours a day. You are with 40 other people but you have no engagement with them. It's really basic accommodation. I was sharing with another guy and you're not allowed to talk."
After the retreat, Amed quit his job and started a business incubator for young fashion designers in London. The venture failed after eight months, and Amed moved on to consulting with LVMH and teaching business at Central Saint Martins.
Amed interviewing Suzy Menkes for BoF. Image via
In January 2007, Amed started BoF as a personal outlet that included his daily observations about the business side of the fashion industry. He would send links and notes to a network of about 100 friends and family, but as the network grew he had to deal with getting into industry shows and events—no small feat for a guy who considers himself an industry outsider.
"I didn't get invitations, people would sneak me in," Amed said. He remembers bypassing four layers of security to slip into the Zac Posen show in BoF's earlier days. Oscar de la Renta was the first to send him a real invitation (the CEO, Alex Bolen, read BoF daily). Even now, Amed has yet to crack into some fashion circles. "I still don't get into some shows," he said. "I can't get into Balenciaga to save my life. We are still in a way an upstart."
· Imran Amed: in the business of fashion [The Telegraph]
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· Glamour's EIC Says Women Won't Read "Stuffy" Websites [Racked]