FashInvest Profile: The Rise of Fashiolista, A Sharing Platform for Fashion Inspirations
Progressing and Reaching Milestones
In September, online fashion-sharing platform Fashiolista reached a milestone of 1 million members. Since its launch two years ago, it has been experiencing rapid growth. On average, Fashiolista members share over 500,000 fashion related items on the website per day. Joost Nauta, CEO and co-founder of Fashiolista, started his first company when he was 18. His education background was in business administration and marketing. He has been an entrepreneur since then and has successfully sold several companies. His ventures have all been Internet related and mostly in the area of e-commerce and social media.
Joost and his two other friends came up with the idea for Fashiolista in 2010 over a brainstorming session with a group of Amsterdam Fashion Institute students. They realized that people needed an outlet to discover new items without getting lost in the frenzy of fashion e-commerce. They had a vision that fashion discovery works best when users from all over the world can share their style. Thus, Joost and the others created an online platform where users can share and save their favorite fashion finds. This has become a core part of Fashiolista’s DNA, making it a totally open and user-generated platform, with over 8,000,000 fashion items all handpicked by their users. Combining technology and fashion sense has been Fashiolista’s greatest competitive advantage so far. “The team has a unique chemistry between technology and fashion sense. It’s somewhat like beauty and the nerd. This makes it one of the most versatile and creative teams I have ever worked with. It’s also one big group of friends. We often hang out together and cruise the canals of Amsterdam when we’re not coding, creating editorial or talking with members,” said Joost.
Fashiolista was conceived at a time before Pinterest and fashion bloggers became popular. The founders soon realized they have something special and are growing quickly. They contacted several angel investors and the venture capitalist fund Atomico and received funding from them for Fashiolista. The company’s most effective marketing tactic is that they have been working with bloggers since the very beginning. The bloggers are Fashiolista’s ambassadors and spread the word about the platform. In return, Fashiolista flies them to fashion weeks around the world and features them on the website. It has been a successful collaboration and more than 50,000 fashion bloggers are now active on Fashiolista.
However, Fashiolista has faced many challenges and difficulties in the past. They have experienced setbacks from servers crashing to thieves robbing their office. In the past year, they’ve had rapid growth and faced challenges on many different levels, such as growing the team, scaling the technical infrastructure, and managing a huge online community. Their current challenges include bringing the Fashiolista app to the iPhone and iPad and integrating advertising and commerce into their platform in a way that enhances users’ experiences. Through all of this, they’ve learned to stay calm and keep spirits high. Joost stated, “If the team is strong and believes in itself, you can tackle any obstacle.”
When it came down to Fashiolista’s secret of success, Joost attributed it to creating a platform that is both engaging and inspiring for their members. Fashiolista is a powerful concept because it offers a simple and fun way to discover new fashion items, stores and brands that match one’s personal style. It’s a platform for everyone regardless of culture, country, or climate. Fashion inspiration is global. When asked if he has three tips on how to venture into the field of fashion technology, Joost offered his insight on the subject. “Get a team together with complementary skills and interest. Talk to your potential users/customers/visitors. Then talk to them again, again, and again. Keep pitching your ideas, until you show them something that will make their eyes light up. Forget everything else, that’s the moment that you are in business.” But most important of all, “Make sure you enjoy every day, it’s the road to success that matters,” said Joost.
After the 1-million-member milestone, Fashiolista’s plan for expansion involves growing activities in countries where they have representatives, such as Istanbul, Rio, and New York. They are also looking into emerging markets like Japan, Russia and Korea. Ten years from now, Joost sees the Internet as the most important medium for fashion, where trends will emerge and spread across the globe in lightning speed. “Fashiolista will help drive these developments and emerge as the one dominant network for fashion discovery worldwide,” he says.
By Luyao Li