Determined to transform fashion consumption for good, Eshita Kabra-Davies launched By Rotation, the world’s first social fashion rental app, in October 2019 after a six year career in the investment industry. Using her eye for business and passion for making fashion more sustainable, Eshita was able to overcome the odds and create one of our best-loved rental platforms. We caught up to discuss her journey, the challenges she faced as a female founder and her styling tips for the new Winter collection.
I founded By Rotation as a side hustle actually! Right out of undergraduate, I worked as an investment analyst for 6.5 years. I invested in corporate bonds of some of the largest European and Canadian banks on behalf of our portfolios. It was quite a dream job for any undergraduate with an interest in the financial markets! I absolutely loved my training.
My parents are entrepreneurs, so I always knew it would be something I would end up doing - I just wasn't quite sure what. I'm also risk-averse (as a corporate bond investor, you always think about downside risks more, for example the risk of default) so I founded By Rotation while balancing my full-time job at an American distressed debt hedge fund. I only left my career once I hit certain quantitative and qualitative milestones - to ensure it would be worth the opportunity cost of giving up my career in finance!
Being a solo founder, a female founder, and that too a person of colour with an immigrant background - it's been incredibly challenging making it into the fashion, media and venture capital spaces in London and the western world. A lot of these industries tend to be based on who you know, not what you know. It almost feels like style over substance at times. It was a shock coming from a merit-driven industry such as finance! I'm so lucky now to have built my own tribe within the industries - who truly believe in By Rotation's mission and vision, and support me in all the ways that they do. Thank you!
I would highly encouraging setting up on the side at first to test out your idea, and to do it in the cheapest possible manner and keep improving your prototype gradually. It's not important to be perfect and get it right the first time - it's important to be efficient and smart with your time, and make mistakes quickly at the earlier stages where these mistakes won't cost you more than they will later when you're more established!
As an ex shopaholic (I grew up in Singapore after all!), I now have analysis paralysis when I have too big a wardrobe. My top advice is to share and of course rent via By Rotation to make the most of your wardrobe and also others'.
I think a lot about each piece I now buy as an actual investment - like an asset class really! I feel like I have my own framework of analysing the item (like I would have analysed a corporate bond!) - factors such as material, style, designer's popularity and longevity, colour are taken into account. I'm very interested to know what the item can do for me, besides the minimum 30 wears I myself will get from it.
I love the Geranium Mabel Top and Skirt - they're so versatile - either together or individually with a simple black/white top or high waist flares. I'd wear them together with my dear friend Eleanor Wellesley's espadrilles and a cute little Tissa bag - both are sustainably-produced brands that are female-run and owned!
Ahhh... That has to be my Lady Dior bag in burgundy. That particular shade is no longer sold and I absolutely love this bag - and I'm usually not fussed about carrying bags at all...!
Follow Eshita on insta: @arentyoueshita