This interview is part of the Entrepreneurial Women Series, a column published by Leila Lewis, to shine the light on the inspiring women making waves in the business world.
Maya Holian and Liza Galano are the founders of EWedded, an online wedding marketplace offering up innovative technology-based solutions for brides and grooms looking to design a luxury wedding while maintaining an emphasis on sustainability. EWedded’s passion for lightening the global carbon footprint while also allowing small businesses to thrive creates a unique position for their brand in the wedding industry! As they’re currently in the process of raising their seed round of funding, they’re excited to share more about the value they’re bringing to brides and grooms. We were honored to hear more of their story!
Interview with Maya Holian & Liza Galano, Founders, EWedded
What inspired you to start EWedded and how has it grown since then?
Maya: The idea for EWedded came to me over five years ago. I was the owner of six bridal shops and was drowning in stagnant excess inventory. Despite sales, donations, and other tactics, I still had so much perfectly good merchandise that was going unsold. It compromised my profit margins and operational efficiency. I began asking my fellow retailers if they had the same issue with inventory management and the resounding answer was “YES!” It was then that I started thinking about the concept for EWedded.
It took a few years to put inspiration into action. We spent all of 2020 building out the platform, and then 2021 acquiring sellers and products. We began generating revenue this year. Our focus now is increasing sales and raising our seed round of funding.
Initially, I started EWedded as a solo founder.
I wasn’t actively seeking a co-founder until Liza came along. We were introduced by a mutual friend who is a wedding gown designer. Liza was building an app for our friend that would enable his retailers to offer a virtual gown try on experience. I loved what she was building and her expertise in product development, so she came on first as the CTO and then after working together for about a year, Liza invested in EWedded and became the co-founder.
Our skills are starkly different and complement each other nicely. We feel strongly that the best co-founder relationships are those where everyone has varying competencies and passions that will positively impact the company foundation, culture and potential for growth.
How do you seek new ways for growth in your brand?
Our vision is to be the go-to destination for marrying couples who are seeking a values-based one-stop-shopping experience. Our growth opportunity will come from broadening our product and service offerings for engaged couples and their loved ones. We like to say we have products from “will you marry me” to “home sweet home,” so deploying a variety of carefully curated products from independent retailers and brands for our customers to purchase is part of our long-term growth strategy.
We believe growth will also come by way of user generated content and by establishing key strategic partnerships for unique collaborative marketing opportunities.
What is your key to standing out in your industry?
Our key differentiator is the digital transformation we’re bringing to an industry that’s been slow to embrace technology. This includes our ecommerce marketplace, virtual try-on tool that’s currently in prototype, live action sample sales, and try-before-you buy program.
What excites you most about what you do?
The aspect of what we do that brings us the most excitement is innovating new solutions that enhance the prosperity and equitability of small retailers, marrying couples and our planet. Sustainability is one of our core commitments, and one of our initiatives to operate a more sustainable company is our circularity program, EnLiven. This program won’t roll out until Q3 of 2023, but the premise is to partner with fashion design schools and create an apprenticeship for students to deconstruct garments that haven’t sold after a year. We will give them the merchandise, tools and space to create new one-of-a-kind products that will either be sold on our marketplace or donated to charity.
What’s something surprising people may not guess about your business?
It surprises people that we’re not viewed as competition to brick and mortar bridal shops. In fact, we partner with them. Our ability to help them relinquish and sell their excess inventory on a global scale gives them a platform to compete for business in the off-price retail market and circular economy and to go after the buyer who’s more inclined to shop online as opposed to a physical retail location.
What is the number one thing you want people to know about EWedded?
We want people to know our mission, and that’s to create prosperity for the planet, commerce and marrying couples. We believe that creating a more conscious and sustainable supply chain will improve the operational efficiencies and staying power of independent retailers and brands, create accessibility to previously unattainable goods for marrying couples and impart environmental harmony. We exist to harness, transform and upcycle textile waste so that our main street businesses continue to thrive and to enhance the health, equitability and prosperity of our world and its people.
What’s one thing you always start your mornings with?
Maya: I start my mornings with a call with my daughter. She’s my “why” and biggest source of inspiration.
Liza: I start my morning with looking at Google Analytics, and I analyze our performance from the day before over coffee.
What’s your go-to inspiration source (podcast, book, Instagram account, etc.)?
Maya: I love podcasts and audiobooks. My new podcast obsession is The Two Percent by Anu Duggal, founder of the Female Founders Fund. I’m currently listening to the book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares.
Liza: My kids inspire me daily to be better than I was yesterday. Their ability to understand and approach problems simply without over analyzing is impressive. Sometimes inspirations come from the most unexpected sources.
Favorite PM drink:
Maya: Gin and tonic.
Liza: Bourbon Old Fashioned.
WRITTEN BYLeila Lewis