Boryana Uzunova is morphing the digital and fashion industries with her business MorphX.
What’s your story?
Three years ago I needed an elegant, youthful, simple dress for New Year’s Eve and I failed to find one. From H&M to Roberto Cavalli I couldn’t find a design that I loved, fitted me well and was good value for money. This pushed me to launch a dress business (yes, for elegant, youthful, simple, affordable dresses), yet I found out providing the perfect fit was a dimension I couldn’t achieve without having the client next to me. But who could? Even tailors ask you to come at least twice for probes before they finish a bespoke piece. This pushed me to find a way to enable tailors, luxury brands and freelance designers to deliver the perfect fit remotely. MorphX, my startup, is achieving this now.
What excites you most about your industry?
Fashion and technology is a very empty intersection. I mean, imagine Mark Zuckerberg strolling from H&M to Roberto Cavalli and whining about not being able to find the perfect t-shirt. For some reason tech guys are generally not keen on fashion and fashion people are generally all about art. Having worked in the fashion industry for 4 years and being in a very tech environment for the past 3 years, I have made the connection between two very clear things – fashion and tech. Imagining how disruptive it could be, blows my mind.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I dropped out of school (in Bulgaria) at the age of fourteen and moved to Japan to get a non-standard education and also tried to earn funds to support my own education. While dropping out was not planned, living in Japan has always been on my dreams radar. The flair for life-aesthetics in Japan is something I could talk about for days. After a year in Tokyo, I moved to Hong Kong, where I somehow have been stuck for the past 7 years.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong. It is diverse enough for you to sell almost anything. It is super dense, so reaching people is relatively easy. You can find capital, so you can kick-off your ideas. You have talent, so you can develop your ideas. You are close to China, so you can manufacture your ideas.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Allen Zeman gave it to me when explaining the success of Ocean Park: Build your vision assuming no limitations, then figure out how to build it given the existing (financial) limitations.
Who inspires you?
My parents; having started from nothing, they are both doctors by education but entrepreneurs by heart, which has resulted in running multiple ventures ranging from niche syringe production to pharmaceutical stores. Their belief in my brother and I has always been inspiring for us to pursue our passions and their support has encouraged us to undertake risky decisions such as dropping out of school and turning down an i-banking offer to start my own business.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I watched a documentary about the mantis shrimp… Did you just laugh? Well, don’t! It has the most advanced eyes on the planet seeing blue, red, green and 13 more colours our eyes can’t even comprehend; a punch so strong, that if you equate its force to the human body, it could throw a baseball into orbit; a bone-structure so resilient, body armours are built after its mechanism. Pretty badass if you ask me.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
When you live consciously, every choice has been weighed. When the weighed choice does not succeed, it opens your eyes to all the factors you missed out to put in the equation and so your sight widens. I have always followed what I am passionate about and have chosen the options I undertake consciously, thus I wouldn’t change anything really.
How do you unwind?
Primarily with sports. I can’t go through my day without training. On weekdays I workout in the gym or do ballet and on weekends I usually hike. I love spending time with my friends, ideally involving food, wine and, or something new and exciting, such as trying a mantis shrimp. May I add that it is also super delicious?
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I am not so much into relaxation vacations. I choose my destinations based on how much hiking, diving and unique things I can do. I think Java island has a lot of beautiful hikes and Cebu is amazing for diving!
Everyone in business should read this book:
I haven’t come across a one size fits all book for people in business. Some biz-people need encouragement, in which case “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu would be appropriate. Others need to humble it out, thus “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens can be a grounding experience. I am a fan of know-how and how-to books, such as the “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries and “The 4-hour work week” by Timothy Ferris, but one has to be careful not to conform to buzz-strategies and keep a flexible framework in mind and make a unique adaptation of it.
Shameless plug for your business:
MorphX enables apparel manufacturers, from tailors, to luxury brands, to e-commerce platforms to provide the perfect fit for their clients, without the client having to leave their home. Don’t make your client return that otherwise cool piece again!
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>