“You [Jess Wilson] find gaps in the market and find ways to fill them. You are determine and passionate.” – Forbes, 2014.
By 22 years old, Jessica Wilson had cemented her name in the fashion and tech industries as the co-founder of the fashion-based app, Stashd. Now 24, the app has users in 136 countries, has been featured within Apple’s Best New Apps in 11 countries and within the top 10 Lifestyle Apps in 5 countries. We tapped into Jess’ experience on careers, the digital-age and sage advice for entrepreneurs.
On her career
“I always had an interest in the prospect of exciting people and creating, I expressed this through organising events and developing an interest in PR from a young age. As I grew, as did my style and interest in fashion, it was a natural progression to tailor my passions towards the fashion industry.”
“It is getting a foot in the door that is the not so easy part, I’ve sent boxes of cupcakes to companies to try and get their attention! From the age of around 18 I started within the fashion industry full time, since, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of Australia and America’s leading designers and PR companies.”
While Wilson gives credit to her studies at the International College of Management Sydney (ICMS), “my career really started when I landed my first fashion internship with a fashion events company. The company was small when I started, so I was thrown in the deep end on a daily basis, which in hindsight allowed me to learn a lot and learn it fast!”
Relating to ongoing learning and real life experience, for Wilson, “it all comes back to internships and actively learning about the industry, seeking and taking up opportunities that align with your vision and learning the most you can from them.” While still co-producing her app, she freelances during the Australia, New York and Paris Fashion Weeks, giving her the insight to continue to drive Stashd.
On your career
The catchall phrase of “I want to work in fashion,” is a naïve one. With a never-ending and always changing list of career options within the industry, you need to be targeted in your approach, and know how to stand out and prove that you belong in that role or company. A “passion for fashion” does not make for a successful interview question response.
“Decide who you want to work for and tailor your approach to appeal to the CEO or Human Resources. Research the company, find out who their clients are, when they have events or showings and take a different approach such as congratulating them on a clients recent press coverage or show at Fashion Week.”
“Think outside the box and aim to stand out as a candidate for the position, enthusiasm, persistence and a knowledge of the company will demonstrate your interest from the get go rather than sending a standard resume via email. Majority of notable companies are inundated with requests for internships or paid work positions, give them a reason to remember you and take time out of their busy day to contact you, and always follow up.”
A changing industry in the digital-age
When an app or website is in your hand, but the clothes are on the rack, we asked Wilson what role she sees online playing in transforming the way we consume and obtain tangible goods.
“Digital is a great leverage for designers and retailers. Whilst brick and mortar stores provide the customer experience, digital allows for retailers to cut their costs and if executed properly reach a larger market of potential consumers and still express their brand identity. Online stores have made it all too convenient for shopper’s, the online experience of refined searches, free/express delivery and refund policies is actively decreasing the output of effort on the shopper’s behalf and in society where convenience is key more and more consumers are turning to online shopping.”
“I think the industry is on the verge of a transition, with the uprise of bloggers acting as journalists and opinion leaders and customers trusting to purchase online apposed to trying on a garment in store is exciting for the fashion industry, the merge of fashion and digital is a prospect that has potential to boost the retail economy.”
‘The world of fashion has never been more competitive with several Australian designers struggling to compete in the business, but now an Aussie has come along making many in the global industry take notice, she’s not a model or a designer just a 22 year old university drop out with an idea likely to make her millions.’ – Channel 7 News Bulletin
Wilson is undeniably making her mark in the fashion-tech space with Stashd, “a fashion discovery and online shopping app, which allows you to shop a multitude of top tier online stores on a centralised platform and store loved pieces in a virtual wardrobe to refer back to for style inspiration, to share with friends for a sometimes much needed opinion and to purchase.”
“The idea stemmed from being able to store loved pieces from numerous online stores in a centralised virtual wardrobe, and developing a new addictive platform to fashion discovery online.”
“Functionality wise users are presented with a single garment and have the option to either swipe left to “Trash” the item to never see it again or right to “Stash” the item into a their virtual wardrobe.”
The app has featured in publications such as Forbes, The Australian, Channel 7 News, GQ, Cleo, Shop Til You Drop and Start Up Smart.
How to “start up”
Almost everyone holds onto a huge dream, but only a handful has the will to bring it to fruition. Wilson is one who does, and so like many other successful entrepreneurs, when she didn’t have the necessary skills to build her app, she recruited and surrounded herself with others who did.
“I have an amazing Co-founder who is an absolute tech gun! Pete Neill, who is a serial entrepreneur and self taught IOS developer. Pete set to work on Stashd and within six weeks Stashd was in the app store.”
Wilson tells budding entrepreneurs to, “Decide what you want to do and then take the steps to achieve it, surround yourself with what you want and like-minded people. I started working out of Fishburner’s a tech start-up co-working space because I knew fashion technology was the next path I wanted to take- it’s amazing how much you can learn by surrounding yourself by people who have taken the entrepreneurial road.”
“Don’t be afraid to try new things and fail at them, stay true to what your instincts tell you and where you see the company going because it’s not a set route, you are forging your own path being an entrepreneur so make sure it’s how you want it.”