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LEINN International has changed my life in 360 degrees and I could not be more happy about it.

My name is Yaiza Barandiaran, I´m 20 years old and I´m from Bilbao, Basque country. Even so, I have always had this need of getting out of my comfort zone and putting myself out there. Regarding my hobbies, sports have continuously taken part in my life, specifically; water sports, such as windsurfing, or  biking, boxing and Skiing. Nonetheless, my passion is everything related with Art; drawing and painting, writing, poetry, and, of course, fashion. Last, but not least, traveling fulfills me in all different ways. Learning languages, meeting people all over the world, all different cultures, exploring and disconnecting from my daily routine are priceless for me. Besides, I believe it’s the best way of learning with no doubt.

What drew you to LEINN International? How did you imagine it? How do you see it now?

I have always been a really indecisive person, and more with important decisions for my future life, but, one thing I was sure about was that I wanted to do something combining business and fashion, although I could not really find something that I was 100% sure about, until I found LEINN. Then, when they told me about LEINN International, doing the same thing, but more intensely,  in an international environment, and constantly traveling, I knew it was the perfect place for me. I wanted to combine my passions, get out of my comfort zone, make a difference, and spend everyday doing what I enjoy, as I thought that going to a conventional university was the easy thing for me to do and here, I have achieved everything I wanted. My days are all different, the people I work with, are the ones I live with, they are my friends… It is an experience. I am 20 years old and the first thing I did when I started the degree was creating  a company, it’s crazy. And, now that I’m almost finishing the process, I can say, it has been even better than I imagined it, I don’t regret a thing about it, this is my place, and I have never had a doubt about it.

What have been the best moments?

I think, more than moments, what I feel more grateful for, is the people that LEINN International has brought to me, specifically, my teammates, my friends, that are the ones that have made all the little moments and this path unforgettable. I always say the same thing, but I feel like the luckiest person in the world for my team. I could really say, I love them, and it’s not something I say much. I know that I could not survive or at least, enjoy and come so far in this path,  if it was not for them, they are my highlight and key thing that I have taken from LEINN. Even so, I have always thought, that the most enriching thing from LEINN, and what you are really paying for, is for the people that this program puts you in your way, people with similar ambitions, as you, people that wants to make an impact and bring value to the world, doing the things, as they are not used to be done, LEINN is for changemakers, for misfits. 

Although, If I need to highlight a moment from each of the stages, or even destinations I would say, from Shanghai, the Slush Event, when MyWay Heels was born and Taihu, both when we were divided into two teams  and when I wanted to teach English. Then, from Bilbao, the Sustainable Fashion Week and the whole quarantine in general, working remotely and without stopping, achieving things as MyWay Crowdfunding or Cinamon debates. From Berlin, I would choose, the learning compass sharing inside DIego’s House, the creation of MyWay Prototype, Pintxopo, June´s evaluation, all the  family dinners we made together, a new berlin (without covid restrictions) and  the dinner that Joanes made for us. From the short, but intense time in Bilbao, transitioning to Korea, “The Wall” Event and everything that is happening in MyWay, the interviews, media appearances, the GSEA…

Personally, what has it brought to you?

LEINN International and my path here, has changed me and my life in 360 degrees, in all different ways I could have imagined, and I could not be more happy about it. During my first year in LEINN, and becoming the team leader of my team, Kairos taught me and made me focus on team leadership from scratch, how to be a leader, and how to work in teams. Then, my process here, turned entirely, coming out of the tlt, being in a more “behind role” and living a more “reflective path”, has made me grow hard, quickly and stronger than ever before, focusing on self leadership and individual learning. Now, in my third year, combining  these two experiences, all the learnings and full of energy, I´m all in to give it all for my team, my projects and my continuing self growth. To put in a nutshell, LEINN and my path here, has taught me both  professionally and personally, learning how to talk to customers or pitch fluently, but also how to express my feelings or be more open, in a more personal way, has strength my skills, as communication, initiative, teamwork, leadership… and developed new ones, as  agile methodologies, marketing, logistics, or even, production. The process has made me more confident, faster, a most improved version of myself.

What has it been like to travel around the world while pursuing a career?rsonally, what has it brought to you?

As I have already mentioned before, traveling has always been a crucial part of my life, and it has not been the first time I have been living outside home or my hometown, so, it was not a huge change for me. Although, traveling, while working, and living with your teammates, at the same time,  is something you can not even imagine how it can go. It’s really intense, and it becomes the main thing in your life, so you need to be fully in the process, trust and with a really open mind, because if not, the process could overcome you. Besides, LEINN International, goes even further, as we are not really based anywhere, and we are constantly moving, without really settling down anywhere, so we need to be ready to pivot and face and pivot changes fast and quickly. We need to be ready to move our projects around and create new ones in very different countries, environments, and cultures, without trying to not get stuck and facing different challenges coming on the way.

Could you tell us more about MyWay Heels?

MyWay Heels is not only a footwear brand that makes its heels have the ability to become a flat sandal, but also provides the opportunity to dream and make people believe in themselves. Our objective is not to accumulate value, but to generate it among our clients: we want that when someone wears a pair of MyWay Heels, they do so with confidence, determination and passion. Our mechanism is very easy to use, after all, that is our goal, to make it as simple and fast as possible. Basically, all you have to do is turn this little back piece, remove the heel, exchange it for another one and turn the piece again, thus hooking the heel securely…

How did you get the idea and how has it been developing since then? What is the business about? Who are you in the team and which is your role?

We could say that the project was born “by accident”, based on our experiences with heels (Our first night out in China, just when we started the process, we ended up in the hospital, because one of Myway Heels members, Clara, broke one of her heels, and twisted her ankle, and she is not the only one in the team, that has experienced this kind of challenges before… So, this, plus the need of bringing a project to the Slush event in China, and Aroa and Clara trusting the proposal of Yaiza, was how everything started), as we are the first ones aware of the damage caused by heels. But, more than 100 million women annually complain about injuries or damage caused by heels, since the higher the heel, the greater the pressure on the feet, thus affecting the entire body. Evenmore, the idea and its development have not been conceived by chance; the project has been methodically validated. During the conception and prototyping process, our main focus has been on health and comfort. We have carried out several footfall and gravity studies, prepared by a podiatry professional who has validated the product and recommended it. We have also analyzed the market and managed to design an easy-to-use and intuitive mechanism.

On the other hand, currently, the team making this possible is formed by: Yaiza Barandiaran (CEO and Financial Manager), Aroa Ugarte (CBO), Clara Abades (Sales Director- Rainmaker), Yago de la Rica (Product Director) and Jon Ander Merodio (Founding Seeker), not only because of our skills and hard work, but also because of the strong union, we have as a team. Moreover, one of our strongest keys inside MyWay Heels is the long network of contacts we have built, and the 22 investors from our past crowdfunding, providing us contacts, knowledge and investment.

Which are your goals with MyWay Heels and where do you see yourself professionally in the coming years?

We are a young company, we invest our time and energy in the project, it is our passion. We are in a stage of experimentation, we squeeze our resources to the maximum. We still remember when they gave us the first budget for the first prototypes; They asked us for 30,000 euros! And we decided to do it ourselves with 3D printers, which by the way we had no idea how to start… And today, we have already made 7 different prototypes… Although, right now, we need to keep growing. We have very clear objectives, but we lack the financial muscle to reach them. Because of this, at the same time, we work on other lines of business, such as certain markets, events or even, selling our merchandise, also, designed and developed by us.

On the other hand, now we are in Korea, the last “mandatory” destination of the degree. Here, we will plan the next steps to take. We hope to incorporate the company in June and start production in November. Our intention is to manufacture nationally, in Spain and although it depends on the costs, the price will be around €150. During the first three years we will approach the market through their e-commerce, working with influencers as well as fashion showrooms, and later through partnerships with physical or multi-brand stores.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering choosing LEINN International?

I think, the only advice I will give, to someone considering to enter in LEINN International, would be to have to have an open minded, throw themselves to the water and not have any expectations, I can tell you about my process, my point of view and how I have lived it, but, it’s gonna be different, to every other person that has enter here and experienced it, so don´t based your thoughts or expectations on my process, but create and live yours. Anyways, At the end, LEINN is not for everyone, and that’s what make it so special and different, but if you are curious and down for it, do it, with motivation, energy and passion, and, they always said the same, but, is actually the most crucial thing, trust the process, and of course, enjoy it too, because, it’s gonna be challenging, but, incredible too. Take full advantage of every day, because time goes so fast, and you are not gonna live anything like this before.

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