SmarterCX.com is proud to highlight women in technology who are driving innovation, creating the next generation of customer experience, and inspiring future leaders. At NRF 2018, we met with Janett Liriano, CEO of Loomia, a Brooklyn, New York based designer and manufacturer of smart materials and textile circuits. In the interview, Janett shares her path to CEO, her advice to future entrepreneurs, and gives us a sneak peek at Loomia’s wearable technology.
View Janett’s story below.
I’m Janett Liriano. I’m CEO at Loomia.
Loomia creates smart materials — textile circuits that are washable and dryable, that can be patterned to heat, light, and sense. We then sell those textile circuits B2B to brands, very similar to Gore-Tex, to add functionality to their products.
Janett’s path to technology
I’ve always been interested in technology largely because of my father. He’s an electrical engineer. I spent my childhood taking apart VCRs, fixing my own toys, and went to a specialized high school here in the city for design technology. Then I went onto Emerson College for about two years also for design technology. I met Maddy around that time — Maddy Maxey is our founder. She founded Loomia about three and a half years ago. We were working largely as a consulting studio, creating wearable products for brands like VF, PVH, even Zac Posen. Using existing technologies to really assess and understand what the limitations were of wearables.
On the back end we were working on our core technology, which is our flexible textile circuit and felt, ‘you know, what we’re doing in the studio is actually the solution.’ We spent the last two years scaling back product, our Loomia electronic wear, to create a real B2B solution for those brands.
How Loomia technology works
What you’re looking at here is the Loomia electronic wear. It can be finished with any material. It can be creased, it can be bended, it can be folded. Right here we have a pressure sensor. You can see, as I touch, the lights get brighter. It’s supposed to mimic being on your skin. A potential use case for that is creating buttons on a sleeve to control different functions in the garment. Lighting is one of the applications that we can execute. There are no wires between these LEDs. They’re mounted directly to the fabric.
Right here in the center is the heating element. If you’d like to touch it you can feel the heat right there.
The heating there, of course, could be executed and put in the lining of a jacket, inside a shoe. The inner lining of the shoe heats and the battery is in the heel. It charges via induction so the user doesn’t have to do anything but put the show down to charge it. There’s a hard little manual control here if you’d like to toggle the button along. It gives you a nice little feedback so that you can change the settings. The inside of the shoe heats.
Those are the magical experiences that we’re really excited about as we think about smart materials. Your garment is doing a lot more than just hanging on your body, they’re really providing a service, performing as they should. Put them to work. They’re just hanging there. That’s kind of what we think.
Advice to future tech entrepreneurs
Often times young entrepreneurs can feel threatened or feel that they don’t have the resources or the network. The first place you can start is really learning from others. Learning from their successes, studying their failures. Then you just have to go out there and try it.
Reach out, look for mentors, make sure you’re taking classes and exposing yourself. Putting yourself in that environment where you can build a community that can help you grow. Particularly in tech that’s very important to just be aware of where your community is.
Upcoming trends in fashion technology
In general, as far as trends in the industry, there is a very strong interest in AI. I think there will be a really big renaissance in discovery that we need big data sets and then there’ll be a chase after that.
I think blockchain technologies will definitely be used in more dynamic ways, especially around supply chain and tracking. And of course wearables. Not that I really like that phrase, but I think we’ll really see a larger use of smart materials in the next year. Brands are really moving toward that.
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This transcript may be edited for readability.