Wear That At
Hear from Heidi Armstrong about her whirlwind experience of launching "Wear That" as part of Ibtikar, Chalhoub Group's internal innovation lab.
As a Fashion Buyer who spends 6 months of the year on the plane, I’m rarely ever in Dubai. As fate would have it, I heard Dina Sidani, Head of The Greenhouse present Ibtikar, an internal platform where you could launch your ideas with the support of Chalhoub Group. In a nutshell, freedom to test your concept, supported by mentorship, funding and three months away from your role to do so. I had been toying with the idea of launching an online styling service, and Ibtikar seemed like the perfect launchpad for it.
And with that, Wear That was born.
Wear That is a personalized online styling platform which creates looks based on a person's body shape, mood and occasion. Since pitching the idea, no day, week or month has been the same. Launching a business is hard, really hard... did anyone ever tell you that? But what an exciting journey to be on. I had my first customer before anything was set up; no boxes ready, no shopping bags, no website, nothing. I very much went with the "do now, figure the rest out later" attitude. Following on from the first customer, a whole wave of "everyday girls" who wanted new looks came a-knocking, so it went like this...
Build a website (fast!), at least to capture the data correctly, but how do I build a website? Figure it out (I had been using Excel at this point)
Teach yourself Photoshop to create and design a clothes box, (drawing 3D silhouettes of boxes to send to Chinese factories is not my strength)
Meet with suppliers & brands to get them on board
Oh, and cater to the ever increasing customer sign ups
What started off with an Excel sheet and some pink bags from Dragon Mart, has now become a business with virtual stylists based around the world, a waitlist of customers, the integration of data scientists to build a personalized business intelligence platform and huge brands on board; in what feels like five minutes. Now that's crazy! The three months at Ibtikar was such a great way to develop the concept, through workshops, mentorship sessions, and access to funding, I was able to identify and develop the appropriate business model for Wear That.
Today’s frustrations and failures, will not be there tomorrow, next month, or in a year. From setbacks, I learnt that I have to move on and up; because something surprises you everyday in startup world – and those pink boxes are not going to pack themselves. Some of the best and exciting business ideas and developments came from mistakes I’ve made, which is kinda cool. Imagine, the integration of the BI platform came after I had inaccurately analyzed a look which annoyed and upset me; if I hit every look 100%, how would I know what to improve?
Wear That is just getting started – we’re working on all the operations and backend to build a smooth running organization, ready to scale fast. I spend most of my days juggling clients, trying to get more brands on board, looking at new technologies to integrate, and developing operational best practices. The next 12 months will be focussing on bringing on more stylists, having our own space, quicker turnaround times and a 100% customer centric brand.