StyleOwner intrigued us from the moment that we read about it. Their business model is potentially quite disruptive, in a clever and empowering way. Style Owner allows users to set up their own stores on the platform, using the site’s merchandise, backend software, and design tools. Users then share in the affiliate revenue when their friends and fans shop in their StyleOwner store — all without ever touching the merchandise.
And then something happened that knocked our stylish socks off… Our founder, Liza, picked up her phone one day and found StyleOwner’s affable CEO, Joel Weingarten, on the other end. As it turns out, the entire management team of StyleOwner calls users daily to check in and inquire about their experiences. This team is serious about customer engagement.
We visited the offices of StyleOwner, and were lucky to get to meet with several members of the executive team, including CEO Weingarten, Tracy Gardner, the site’s Chief Strategy Officer and former President at JCrew, and Suzanne Silverstein, Executive Consultant at for the site and former SVP at Hautelook.
We spent a good hour chatting about all manner of fashion and technology things, including technical backends, fashion bloggers, and how users are enjoying the StyleOwner site. We also managed to remember to get our seven interview questions asked. Here’s what Joel and the team had to say:
New York, NY –
TWF: Tell us about your company
SO: Style Owner is a platform that empowers stylepreneurs* to build and promote their self-curated store. We have over 2,000 brands that our users can curate from, as well as various themes that users can leverage to personalize their store. Once the store is built, stylepreneurs can start selling to their friends and even customize recommendations with our “personal shopper” option — and for their hard work they’re rewarded 10% of the sale. It’s social selling at its truest form.
*StyleOwner calls their users “styleprenuers” and defines that as an aspiring business person who possesses great style and a love of fashion
TWF: If you can describe your company in five words, what would they be?
The team was very adamant about making sure those 5 words were precisely what defines them. We enjoyed their lively debate when choosing the perfect words!
TWF: Tell us about your team.
SO: We have about 15-17 people. Obviously there’s me (Joel), Founder & CEO; Jordana Silver, President of Fashion Operations; Tracy Gardner, Chief Strategy Officer; Suzanne Silverstein, Executive Consultant; Matt Murphy, technical lead; Haley Jones, Senior Graphic Designer/Illustrator; Alexa Brandt, Director of Consumer Experience; and a group of great web developers and interns.
TWF: What is unique about your company?
SO: We’re unique because we’re a platform where everyone wins; the brands, the users, and of course, us. We also have a philanthropy section that give users the option to donate their earned money to nine different non-profit organizations. Earn while giving back; what’s better than that?
TWF: What’re your future plans?
SO: We’re actually partnering up with some big name bloggers such as The Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine, who will be creating a store and embedding it in their personal websites, which is very exciting for us. We’re also working on adding other new features, but as of right now we want to assure that our users are getting the most they can out of Style Owner. I do personal house calls to new users to obtain feedback and discuss anything that they may have any questions about. It’s important to us that our users are happy with Style Owner.
TWF: Tell us about the market you’ve been targeting and the response you’ve gotten so far.
SO: Our target market ranges from that Midwest high-school student who’s her class fashionista, to the stay-at-home mom who’s looking to make some extra income. It appeals to just about everybody. So far the feedback has been great. We find that everyone’s been extremely active with their stores, and that in itself is rewarding to know.
TWF: What things inspire you the most- whether in business or in life?
SO: The team here is what inspires me. Everybody is great at their job and that motivates everyone in the office. Also, watching our users and seeing how involved they are with their shop truly makes all of the work worth it.
We’re truly excited about StyleOwner’s potential. We love that it empowers users, and that its entire business model is based on win-win-win. We’re impressed at the work that they’ve been doing to educate their styleprenuers. StyleOwner it looks to us like a true platform play, and we recommend keeping your eye on them. (StyleOwner.com, Twitter, Facebook.)
This is part of our ‘Startup Seven’ series, in which we ask the founders our favorite startups about what makes them great. Find more of these interviews here!
Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.