Monday, July 2, 2012

Spotlight On: Jess Moore of Stylebook App!

Recalling my chance encounters from the Marie Claire @ Work event a couple of weeks ago, I am so excited to present to you Jess Moore of Stylebook, a virtual closet app available now on iTunes! Jess has figured out a way to work for herself, combine fashion and technology successfully, and do what she loves. I chatted it up with her about the app's recent successes.

{Jess Moore, founder of Stylebook}

Hi Jess! How did you come up with the idea for the app ?

There were a few things that contributed to the idea. I think the wheels in my head
started turning when I was interning in the fashion closet at Vogue, where my job was to
track the clothing samples that were traveling between the magazine and various PR
showrooms. The system they used at the time was simple: it involved writing a detailed
description of the item and snapping a Polaroid, which I then stapled to the description
form. It was often a lengthy and difficult process, especially when you had to flip through
pages later on to find an item after it had been filed. I knew there had to be a way to
effectively digitize the process.

My next internship was at Modern Bride Magazine, where I also worked in the fashion
closet. My boss there kept photos of all of her shoes so she could keep track of what
she owned. She told me that other people in the industry did similar things to track their
wardrobes: some hung up their outfits on hangers in their closet, some drew little
diagrams, and others kept Polaroids of their favorite looks. Later, this would come back
to me while developing the idea for Stylebook.

When the App Store was first created, my boyfriend Bill and I decided to start an app as
a weekend project. It wouldn’t cost us anything and it would be fun to make something
practical that we could use everyday. I wanted to make something to plan out and track
what I was wearing to my new job in the Lucky Magazine art department. As an
assistant at a magazine in New York, I felt the pressure to look fashionable but I had a
very small budget. I needed to stretch what I had, which would require some
organization. I thought back to my experiences in the closet and how I had seen other
women document their wardrobes and the idea for Stylebook was born.

{her beautiful workspace!}
Can you explain the app to us? I would love to know more about the less obvious
features, like the calendar, sizing, stats, etc. So cool!

Stylebook is a virtual closet for your real wardrobe. You can create outfit collages wIth
photos of your clothes, plan what to wear on the calendar, pack for a trip, save all your
style inspirations, and get insight into what you wear the most and least.
A few of the lesser known but very cool features are:

Used In Outfit - If you open a single item in the closet and look at the notes screen, you
can see all of the outfits you’ve made that use that item - this is great when you’re
getting dressed and want to wear a certain top or dress but can’t remember any good
outfits that use it.

Cost Per Wear - If you record the price of an item in the item’s notes screen and then
log it on the calendar each time your wear it, the app will automatically tell you the
item’s cost per wear.
Shopping - Shopping is one of Stylebook’s newest features. You can do advanced
searches to find very specific items that fit your budget. For example, you can look for
white blazers priced between $100 and $150 and it will find all matching results from the
catalogs of over 7,000 different brands. You can then add the image of that item directly
to your Stylebook closet and test it out with your existing wardrobe before deciding to
buy it.

Do you have any tips for women wanting to get started in fashion and technology or how to start a small business?

Put in the time to see your idea become a reality. Bill and I had so much fun planning
out Stylebook and working on it after work and on the weekend. If you have the
necessary skills and you’re willing to make time to do the work, you’ll be able to make a
great product. Of course, you should make sure you do something that you’re
passionate about because it will take a lot of hard work. When times get tough, you’ll be
better able to handle it if you really believe in what you’re working on.

Figure out the important stuff before you decide to work on it full-time. Where are you
going to get health insurance? Do you have enough savings to live on if you don’t make
a profit right away? Do you have a business plan? Do you need help working on the
project, and, if so, how will you get it?

{Ed Note: Listen up! Such important points!}

Last I’d say find a good lawyer and accountant. There are some things that are best left
to the professionals and they aren’t as expensive as you might think. Plus, you’ll feel at
ease if you know that you fully understand every contract that crosses your desk and
the proper tax procedures that apply to your business.

{Jess on the job!}

Explain how you work on a given day and who is responsible for what and when. I think you have an awesome job and am in awe that you've been able to figure it all out.

My co-founder Bill and I do most of the work. He does the programming and I work on
PR, marketing, events, social media, and our blog. We plan out new features, test the
software, and work with customers together. The other nitty gritty stuff like accounting
and legal we leave to the professionals.

We both think it’s important to do all we can on our own. It makes the work more
interesting and we’ve learned a lot of valuable skills over time.

 My Typical Schedule:
wake up
check sales from previous day
check advertising stats
make breakfast
check email
answer customer feedback and press inquiries
read my daily blogroll
work on an interview text or artwork for style expert
make lunch
edit or take images for the window shopping blog
test changes or plan new features for the app with bill
social media time! post to facebook, tumblr, or pinterest
about once a week, I’ll attend a networking event
bed time

The packing list feature is so cool. Can you explain how to use the app for a packing list and what you'd have in it?

Typically, when I go on a trip, it’s for a trade show or blogger event. So I need to pack
outfits for meetings, booth setup, panel discussions, and cocktail parties. I’m a notorious
over-packer but I try to reduce what I bring by packing versatile items that can be
repurposed into many different looks. The last business trip I took was to Austin, Texas,
for Texas Style Council and SXSW. For this trip, I made a few looks with Stylebook’s
outfits feature and then added them to a packing list. I then looked at the list of
individual items in the packing list and made adjustments as necessary. For this
particular trip I tried to to reuse my bottoms and changed up each look with dramatic
accessories. I also made sure to include a t-shirt for the afternoon I would be setting up
 our booth for TXSC.

{a sampling of Jess's packing list for TxSC in Austin}

What are your favorite gadgets as a fashionable gal on the go?

Mini Steamer - My steamer is way easier to use than an iron. It gets out the wrinkles
without having to navigate an ironing board plus I like to use it to fluff up embellishments
on my blouses and dresses. That’s a trick I learned while working in the Modern Bride
fashion closet, where I often had to rejuvenate delicate veils, fascinators, and head
pieces that had been flattened while in transit.

Scanner - I scan my magazines so I can save my favorite images in my Stylebook
inspiration library. I also use it keep feature stories I want to reference later. My next
goal is find good text recognition software so I can actually search the copy.

Camera - I love my new Olympus Pen camera - I seriously always have it with me. It’s
super-compact so it fits in my bag but it still has all of the manual controls of standard

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