The loveable motto “just do it” springs to mind as I read into Jessica Atkin’s entrepreneurial journey. Jessica went from assisting at Lucky Magazine to owning her own business, all by the age of 25! Earning praise for her venture from leading publications Vogue, InStyle, Harpers Bazaar, Elle and Cosmopolitan (to name a few), it’s needless to say that I was extremely excited to talk to Jessica about her digital fashion business, Stylebook.
Do you remember the first time you watched Clueless? I do, it was back when I’d developed a skewed vision of corduroy flares and fishnet gloves, nevertheless Cher Horowitz’s tech-enabled wardrobe had mine and my sisters jaws on the floor in lustful envy. There are few wardrobes as iconic as that of Cher’s, an amalgamation of polished pop colours, plaid knife-pleat skirts and bubblegum jackets picked out daily by a digitally approved styling system. As Katy Perry would term, a teenage dream.
Twenty years on and we’re still harbouring our digital wardrobe fantasies, enter Stylebook. Stylebook is a tantalising virtual wardrobe app that’s been developed to make everyday dressing a safe and stress free environment (for you and your partner). I think of Stylebook as the super green smoothie of the wardrobe world, detoxifying your closet through its clever camera tools and endless digital features; A firm favourite being the cost per wear tool. I’ve put together five reasons – if ever we needed them – on why you should download the Stylebook app at the end of this post. But firstly, let’s speak to the brains behind the operation, Jessica Atkins, and how she became a digital girl boss…
WTT. How did Stylebook come about?
J. When Apple first opened the App Store to individual developers, they gave anyone the opportunity to create and sell an app. My (now-) husband Bill, who is a computer programer, really wanted to make an app and I convinced him to create a closet app because it was something I wanted to use in my own life. We were dating at the time and decided to work on it as a fun side project.
WTT. It sounds like it was all meant to be! After you decided to go for it, how long did it take you both to launch the app, from concept to creation?
J. It was so long ago I can barely remember! The app has been evolving for 7 years, so really it has taken that long to get the app to where it is now. Our first vision was so simple, it barely did anything compared to the functionality it has today.
WWT. What was the biggest challenge you faced when setting up your own business?
J. We ran Stylebook just for fun for a couple of years, but when we decided to do it as a full-time job, we had to figure out how to get health insurance and how to reduce our living expenses. We moved out of New York City and thankfully the Affordable Health Care Act made it possible for us to purchase our own health insurance.
WTT. How did you have the gumption to start your own business, what was the driving force?
J. I’ve always wanted to start my own business. When I was a kid, I sold brooches I made out of discarded darkroom contact sheets to a local shop. Both my parents are entrepreneurs – my dad co-founded a company that made telecom testing devices and my mum was a ceramicist – so I just thought being an entrepreneur was normal.
WTT. What advice would you give to your 23 year old self?
J. Keep going even when times seem tough, and keep your confidence!
WTT. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
J. Don’t wait for anybody to hand you an opportunity, and most importantly work hard.
WTT. Going back to the App, who is the app for?
J. Anyone who wants to get more out of the clothes they already own and want to carefully curate new purchases. I originally came up with the concept for Stylebook because I didn’t make enough money to buy new clothes but still wanted to try to improve the way I dressed at work.
WTT. The ‘cost per wear’ tool really interests me. What made you come up with this tool?
J. I frequently see magazine articles that call certain clothes as an ‘investment’ and I wanted to find out if expensive purchases really got more use than bargain buys. Having your closet and your outfit history digitised makes it super easy to figure that out.
WTT. You have a huge following on Pinterest (50K+), how has Pinterest helped your business?
J. Haha, I’m not sure if we have a big following, most bloggers really blow us out of the wardrobe! Social media in general has been helpful because we get to see how people use the app. Some users are really creative with how they photograph their wardrobe. It’s really inspiring! (Follow Styleapp on Pinterest here, and be inspired to organise your closets!)
WTT. Lastly, how do you wear the trousers?
J. Well, if we’re talking literally, then I wear them with a loose t-shirt, a jacket, and ankle boots.
Evidence, if ever we needed it, that you should download the Stylebook App. Now.
You can actually get dressed in under 5 minutes. It’s been shown that the act of decision making erodes your ability to make later decisions. Psychologists call it decision fatigue: it’s why shopping for groceries can be so exhausting and why judges give harsher rulings later in the day. As Obama told to Vanity Fair “You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions on what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
Was it worth splashing out on that Isabel Marant technicolor dream coat? Stylebooks’ cost-per-wear tool allows you to track your spending habits and whether or not they were worth it.
The holes in your wardrobe will become abundantly clear once you’ve set up Stylebook. Maybe you’re lacking work trousers, in need of winter knits or basic layering tools; knowing where the void lies will allow you to shop smarter and invest in pieces that you actually need.
By allowing you to view the styles in your wardrobe that you wear the most, Stylebook will teach you a great deal about your personal style. Maybe you’ve mis-calculated your love of the skinny-jean? Maybe you wear your favourite top more than 3 times a week? This is such a great exercise to get-to-know your wardrobe.
Prep your outfits on a seasonal basis. By only hanging what you’re actually going to wear at that time of year calls for a clean closet, and in turn a clear mind.
(All images courtesy of StyleBook)