Profile of a WINner: Maria BecerraI recently sat down with one of The Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab’s participants, Maria Becerra, MBA Candidate Class of 2014, to discuss her business, Trinity Activewear. Maria hails from Colombia and is an avid swimmer, biker and runner as well as a “fashionista”. In addition to recently winning the WIN Lab’s “Most Traction to Date” award, Maria is also Vice President of the Babson Association of Women MBAs (BAWMBA) and Vice President of Events for Babson’s Retail and CPG Club. You can follow Maria on Twitter @becerramarisa.
Tell me about your business idea.
My company is called Trinity – “Activewear to match the woman who wears it.” My business designs fashion-forward, high-performance swimwear that is both flattering and supportive in fit. My co-founder, Emily Waters, and I named the company Trinity, as it stands for three things that we believe embodies a woman: balance, strength, beauty.
We’ve conducted a lot of research over the past year on shapes and current swimwear for athletes and are using the latest technology to design a swimwear line that is both flattering and supportive. Currently, we’re developing our brand and designing prototypes to test and learn from the market.
When was your light bulb moment?
I didn’t really have a “light bulb” moment. After working in corporate finance for four years, I knew I wanted to combine my real passions (sport and fitness), which is why I decided to attend Babson.
The idea began to manifest about five years ago when I started swimming; I was not happy with the swimwear options available on the market, and I wanted a swimsuit that provided support to my upper body. Because I love fitness and fashion, I wanted to combine these passions and start a triathlon-wear line. I realized triathlon is still a niche market so I decided swimsuits is a product that more people can relate to. When I started researching I realized there are not that many companies that offer athletic swimsuits that are flattering and also stylish, so I decided I wanted to be part of the solution!
What drew you to the WIN Lab?
The WIN Lab gave me the opportunity to make my dreams a reality. I first found out about the WIN Lab when I saw Sharon Kan pitching the program and it was then I knew this was the perfect opportunity for me to push myself to pursue my dreams.
When I applied to WIN, I had the idea to combine sport and fitness, but wasn’t exactly sure in which way to do this. I knew that starting a company was A LOT of work, and the idea had to be something that I was really passionate about. So, after brainstorming other ideas in the fitness and fashion industries, I went back to the drawing board with my original idea and this is when Trinity was born.
What’s your greatest thing that you’ve gotten out of WIN / how has it helped you the most?
Confidence! WIN has given me that confidence to pursue my passion. At WIN, we engage in deep discussions, have coaches/mentors that support us and are constantly surrounded by other women who have pushed me to realize my true potential. They’ve made me realize that my idea is not just a dream but a real possibility. WIN has given me the confidence to build upon my ideas, to move forward and to act.
What do you think the future of women entrepreneurship looks like?
My mom is an entrepreneur, so I’ve been surrounded by both entrepreneurship and strong women my whole life. Recently, I attended the Women 2.0 conference in Las Vegas, and was inspired how women are innovating in different spaces, not just fashion and retail, but also in technology. I believe that the future looks more promising for women and that more and more organizations are focusing on women entrepreneurship. There are so many resources available for women today – Women 2.0, WIN Lab, Golden Seeds, Plum Alley, etc. These resources are helping us to reach our full potential.
Who’s your “shero”?
I have two. The first is the founder of Nasty Gal – Sophia Amoruso. Sophia started small by selling vintage clothing on eBay and found a niche of people who wanted more edgy designs. Today, she has one of the highest growth companies in the fashion industry.
The second is my mother. As I mentioned before, she is an entrepreneur and has taught me everything about working for yourself and following your passions. I’ve seen her create a company and stick to it for the past 25 years. My mom gives me the inspiration for doing what I want to do.
What has you jumping out of bed in the morning?
Working on my business! I go to bed each evening and wake up envisioning my product line, envisioning my success, envisioning people buying, wearing and talking about my product. I hope one day to be a role model entrepreneur.
What’s your biggest need / What’s one thing that could help take your business to the next level?
Starting a new business has many needs, but I’d say my current biggest need is connections to the product wear industry; from manufacturing facilities to experienced individuals within the active wear industry. I also need seed funding to make more protypes. Finally, I’ll be looking for business accelerators for women when I graduate from Babson in May. I’ve had such an incredible experience at WIN, that I hope to find something similar.
Advice for other aspiring women entrepreneurs?
Think big. Think about how you can you solve problems and provide solutions for a lot of people. Most importantly, do what you really really love and do something that makes you really really happy.
Created by Babson’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL), WIN Lab is a year-long residency program for women students that accelerates the entrepreneurial path from ideation to prototype. Learn more about WIN Lab.