Founded in 2018, Lebanese startup, Lemonade Fashion has since truly established itself in the big leagues.
With a projected“$5 million in international e-commerce sales,” by the end of the year, co-founder and CEO Arthur Bizdikian said their new mobile app “is pioneering the global scene.”
Already available on distribution platforms, Lemonade Fashion will unveil its new app at the end of May, in an official launch that is likely to cause a buzz beyond Lebanese borders
Registered in San Francisco, the company is financed by a dozen investors, including American venture capitalist Tim Draper. This project is the first time that Draper, one of the first to invest in Elon Musk’s Tesla and SpaceX, invests his money in a Lebanese start-up said Bizdikian.
He said he met with Facebook executives who “gave us the green light” to launch the app. This key support validates Lemonade Fashion’s ability to fill a gap in the social media market: social commerce.
Combining social media interaction with product marketing, Lemonade Fashion is the clever result of a mix of new technologies in a connected millennium.
“It’s Instagram meeting TikTok, SnapChat and Amazon,” said Dana Malaeb, co-founder and creative director.
The network’s infrastructure makes it possible to interact with social media content — likes, shares and scrolling through videos and photos based on the products for sale — as well as digital window shopping to save and order favorite items online.
From custom-made clothing to accessories and other beauty products, everything is delivered directly from the studios of international designers featured on the app.
“They send us their products and we sell them via the app while creating our own looks,” said Malaeb.
In addition to the million-plus users on the start-up’s various platforms in the past two years, “the new app was created to become a, if not ‘the,’ reference for all designers, influencers, vendors and [web] curators of fashion,” Malaeb added.
The numbers are already dizzying.
More than 350 designers from a dozen countries, customers in more than 30 — mostly from Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and the United States — and more than 5,000 products for sale.
The site features more than 175 Lebanese designers, 155 of whom are women. Although the clothing lines mainly target women, “we are currently working on strengthening our men’s wardrobe,” said Bizdikian.
Since Lemonade Fashion is for everyone, it emphasizes common values of the fashion world.
“The work of each designer is verified based on [these values] : animal protection, sustainable development, a brand run by a woman, etc. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world. So it is important for us to support ethical companies,” said Bizdikian.
This statement was confirmed by Ramzi Farah, a managing director at Razor Capital, a London-based venture capital and investment management firm that has followed Lemonade Fashion’s evolution and is preparing to invest in it “soon,” he said.
“We support economies that are set to grow. We started with Bangladesh and are now looking at Lebanon,” Farah said.
Razor Capital’s criteria for investment include sustainability and value, ambition and the team’s ability to deliver. This criterion was met by Lemonade Fashion, which “undoubtedly represents the new generation of social commerce platform in the world, as well as a turning point in the fashion industry by focusing on what is called conscious fashion,” Farah said.
Draper and Farah are not the only ones interested in the Lebanese start-up. A dozen investors, including at least ten business angels —entrepreneurs and angel investors — paid out of pocket to help develop the company, which will soon open an office in San Francisco in addition to its office in Armenia and headquarters in Beirut.
With Lemonade Fashion’s success, however, there is no question of leaving Lebanon.
“The company’s management, technology and content creation will remain based in Beirut,” said Bizdikian. “The more we grow, the more we invest in the country’s economy, whether it’s by hiring more talent or developing the company’s infrastructure. About 30 percent of our revenues are redistributed to the Lebanese community we work with [including influencers, curators, models and fashion photographers].”
This is good news for the country in crisis. Even the name of the company is inspired by the English proverb: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” intended to encourage optimism in the face of adversity “while feeling good about yourself,” added Bizdikian
Lemonade Fashion brings hope to the ecosystem of fashion, technology and start-ups, all of which have experienced a brain drain following the onset Lebanon’s economic collapse.
This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour. Translation by Joelle El Khoury,.