On Episode 37 of The Limit Does Not Exist we sit down with Janett Martinez, who has held a singular mantra throughout her zig-zag career: "it's all about scrappy resourcefulness." The CEO of fashion-tech startup Loomia got her start in technical theater while still a teenager at the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City. (Fun fact: that's the public arts high school FAME is based on.)
Martinez studied theatrical scenic, lighting, and sound design and construction and worked at Lincoln Center as a scenic charge before matriculating at Emerson College to study design technology. She liked the intersection of technology and performing arts, and she was doing well in her program. But in her sophomore year both of her parents had health issues that prevented them working. So she took a leave of absence and returned to New York, where she got a job as a concierge at the Bryant Park Hotel to help support her family.
Janett Martinez, CEO of Loomia
At 19, Martinez was the youngest concierge in New York City, a job that is almost exclusively about leveraging relationships. "It was less 'Can I do it?' and more 'I’d better do it.'"
She built a binder several hundred pages thick with notes on menus, maître d's, and special events as she hustled to build relationships across the city. It paid off, and after a very successful year in the role was able to go back to school. But her interests had changed since she left Emerson, so Martinez decided to stay in New York and complete a certificate in audio engineering. She had been acting (including an appearance on Law and Order, a veritable rite of passage for professional actors) and singing original songs during her year as a concierge, and wanted to learn the technology and craft behind recording engineering.
A stint in St. Maarten soon followed, where she leveraged her sound engineering experience to propose and install an interactive medical simulation program at AUC School of Medicine that resulted in an increased use of their robot patients by 300%. In addition to the technological challenge of building the audio interface for the robots, Martinez was drawn to the work of creating a process that could be repeatable by anyone. For this program to work, it needed to function seamlessly after she left. That process work was new for Martinez and she started connecting the dots.
So when The Crated founder Maddy Maxey called and asked her to join as Chief Operating Officer, the pieces all fell into place. Her work in technology and theater combined with her love of systems and overall hustle meant she was well prepared to join the leadership team of a fashion-tech studio. And over the next year, as Maxey and Martinez led a company pivot away from a design studio toward a materials company focused on smart fabric and electronic textiles, it was natural for Martinez to step into the CEO role of newly branded Loomia.
Listen to the full episode for more on the technology behind Loomia's soft circuits that make IOT wearables much more wearable, her answer to our question of New York City's best-kept secret, and Martinez's advice on avoiding "imposter syndrome."