Kendall is a former fashion editor who has written for NYmag.com, Lucky, InStyle, and NBC. She recently scrapped that glamorous life and is pursuing an MBA at MIT Sloan, in hopes of becoming an entrepreneur.
My second year at MIT Sloan is in full swing: classes, meetings, trips. All of that is wonderful, but what I care most about, what consumes my life is… StyleUp! I came to business school inspired by the Gilt Groupe and Rent the Runway women. I knew–we all know!–there is so much potential for fashion startups to take off, but I had no clue how to make it an actual business.
Last winter, I was on holiday break, idly clicking around street style blogs. I started thinking about how every day we get up and face our closets and try to reinvent the wheel with a new outfit. But there are already so many amazing points of inspiration to be found online. How cool it would be to have one of these inspirational images when it matters most (when you were getting dressed in the morning)? Personally, I sleep as late as possible and often end up throwing on some random outfit, sometimes hating what I’m wearing by noon or finding that it doesn’t work well for weather.
Despite being at MIT, I tried out this concept in the most low-tech way possible. Googling images, saving them to my desktop and dispensing them via Gmail to 30 friends. To pick what image to send, I drew from each person’s taste and their local weather. That was the key: not just fashion inspiration but advice tailored to you and to your needs!
Through a start-up class last spring, I began talking to Ryan, an engineer-turned-MBA. Together, we figured out how to take my idea and apply it to a structured, scalable platform. This summer, we became co-founders and launched a beta product. The best part? Women like it! Here’s some of our feedback:
•”StyleUp shows me new ways to wear what I already have.”
•”These emails are the first thing I read in the morning. It’s such a nice surprise to wake up to – a cute outfit and the weather.”
Here’s the deal: You get one email every day featuring an aspirational yet relatable outfit. It could be Olivia Palermo in heels and trousers, Ashley Olsen in a pencil skirt, a real girl running errands in jeans and driving slippers, Sheryl Sandberg in a classic LBD…whatever suits your taste and your local weather that day. You can also rate the looks so that your future styles will be even closer to your liking – it’s like the Pandora of fashion! There’s a link to buy the key item from the look too, though the goal of StyleUp is much less about shopping and much more about appreciating what you already own.
Though we’re off to a solid start, StyleUp is far from perfect. We’re working towards using images that reflect a wider range of modern women. We’re working towards learning more about each person’s day-to-day needs so we can send outfits she will truly covet. We have a lot to learn, but in just a few months time, I’m really proud of our progress. I hope you sign up and share in my little style secret!
Meanwhile, if you have any questions about starting a fashion/tech company, about StyleUp specifically or balancing the entrepreneurial life with the MBA program, hit me up in the comments or message me on twitter (@kendall_to_go).