Q1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
My parents were in East Africa when I was born, so my early years were spent there and then in UAE, India, the US and then back to India. On one hand it was crazy moving around so much at a younger age, but on the other hand I was exposed to so much early on.
I’m the eldest of three girls and we are super tight. From clothes to our personal problems we’ve always shared what’s happening with us - even now when we don’t live in the same country. In fact we started buying our clothes with the idea of exchanging clothes and created a photo series called The Sisterhood of the Travelling ...
Q2. From AI to Fashion, tell us a bit about StyleNook and its unique business model?
Well in my 20s I was lucky enough to stumble into an area that I loved and was good at - AI and data ! I simply love building models and being able to figure out how to leverage AI towards solving core issues.
When I started StyleNook, a lot of people wondered what I was doing especially after spending a decade in analytics. But honestly StyleNook exists only because of an AI foundation. When we are in college most of us have plenty of time to explore what's new and keep experimenting. As we grow older, life takes over. StyleNook emerged from a problem that my founder and I faced - we just wanted it to be easier to discover fashion that spoke to our own personal vibe. A personal stylist acts as a hyper-recommendation engine and since she uses our data tools, her work gets easier and hence we can offer this service at a bare minimum and for all kinds of occasions.
Our client visits www.stylenook.in and takes our style quiz. Based on the responses, our algorithms and the stylist pick 10-15 pieces and create ensembles for our client to pick from. Client checks out the pieces, buys whatever she likes and lets the stylist know what she thinks. This entire process happens online.
We also aggregate this information of demand and supply to share with our partner brands - we work with them to influence their design decisions. So think of us like Netflix that recommends what you should see and also uses your viewing preferences to create content - except we are better since there is a human stylist involved.
Q3. What inspired you to take this challenge, and organise an industry / product that’s highly unorganised when it comes to Indian market?
I think the very fact that we were operating in a highly fragmented market where discovery of interesting pieces is so time consuming made this an exciting challenge for us. While we may not organise the industry itself, however we are streamlining the discovery process for the user. She is guaranteed to find pieces to her taste, budget and body shape - be it from well known brands or boutique brands. And using AI in every aspect of the business just makes it a lot of fun.
Q4. What has been your proudest moment?
Getting our first customer who was not part of any immediate circle and she handed over Rs. 10,000. We were truly humbled that someone could invest that level of faith in a business that didn't even have a site or a proper payment mechanism. I still get goosebumps when I think of that moment
Q5. What are some of the biggest challenges you faced as an entrepreneur?
We are creating a new market and trying to change behavior. When you are trying to change behavior, the biggest challenge is letting users know how the solution makes sense - at each step our challenge on this front has changed and it’s a work in progress.
Q6. What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting out?
Instead of spending time and energy thinking about a brand, design, tech etc, first see if someone is interested in your concept. I’m a very big fan of the Lean Startup and it’s critical to understand if there are enough people who are willing to consume what you are offering. Today there are several different tools available to test out your hypothesis before you get to the building.
Q7. Given a chance would you alter any of your life decisions?
Nope ! I’m really happy with every decision I’ve made - at that time some of them may have not been thought through but things have played out well.
For more do visit us at www.stylenook.in or find us on Insta @stylenook.in