Product Designer Leaves Mozilla to Disrupt Women’s Fashion

This was the part of the "Startup Stories" series on ThinkApps.

At first glance, QCut cofounder Beasley‘s past experience wouldn’t lead you to think that the next step on her career path would be making jeans. Most recently, she was a Product Designer at Mozilla and has a background in fine art and computer science.

In a recent interview, she told me that in the midst of that, something inspired her to majorly shake up the fashion industry with 400 sizes of jeans. Surprisingly, the epiphany didn’t come to her in a dressing room, but instead on the streets of Cambodia.

The Idea

In October 2013, Beasley took a three-month sabbatical from Mozilla to volunteer with 17 Triggers. “I was there to do behavior change work with non-governmental organizations,” she said. “Things like water sanitation, bringing design principles into helping those kind of programs to essentially deliver better outcomes for people in Cambodia.”

While there, she’d be walking to work or dinner and would pass fields lined with razor wire and filled with protestors being manned by military troops and tanks. These people were workers in the garment industry union, protesting the poor working conditions and wages.

“I, like most people, probably know that your clothes are made in countries where the wages are a lot less, but Cambodia’s is really the bottom of the barrel. Its GDP is about a tenth of its immediate neighbors,” Beasley said. She couldn’t help but become invested in the controversy that surrounded her. 

“Being a designer … my first lens that I put on situations is: If I had a magic wand, what would I want the experience of buying apparel to be?” she explained. “And it didn’t take very many dinners and walks and thinking it over to realize that apparel really hasn’t changed much in the last 15 years.”