With our Dorset Accelerator coming to a close in early January, its eight graduating companies are now embarking on a new stage of development for their digital concepts.
Jo Caley entered into the programme with her site High Street Fit Finder and high hopes of revolutionising the way we shop for clothing. This forward-thinking site was concieved around the very real problem of inconsistency in clothes sizes between retailers and the fact that over 60% of women (that's 15 million) often don't know what size to buy. High Street Fit Finder combats this with a combination of product data and retailer's size charts, enabling women to buy the right size, first time.
We caught up with Jo to talk product inspiration, advice and her thoughts on graduating from the Dorset Accelerator...
What's your background and how did you find yourself in this line of work?
My background is two-fold, an education in Geology and a career in Administration. Whilst seemingly at odds with one another, the common theme between these two industries, and what I do now, is BIG DATA.
I had the idea for the website when I put my foot through the knee of my favourite pair of jeans and realised I really didn’t want to go shopping to replace them. I soon recognised there was both a solution to my problem and a gap in the market, so I taught myself how to code and built the search engine prototype. With a working website, I felt I had to see if I could help other people overcome their shopping nightmare. I quit my job and I’ve been working on High Street Fit Finder ever since.
How does High Street Fit Finder work?
Very simply; follow these three easy steps:
- Measure yourself.
- Enter your measurements and search criteria into the fit finder.
- Buy online or in-store.
We match your body measurements against all the retailer’s size guides and product data to find what you’re looking for.
Shoppers can be quite picky about adopting a new ritual into their shopping routine. Was this an issue when starting out and if so, how did you combat it?
Yes, this is an issue and one we are still trying to combat. We are confident that with the fast-paced ever-changing nature of retail and ecommerce, we will be able to carve out a space in the market thanks to our unique service and omni-channel approach.
What sort of reaction have you had from retailers?
Very positive. We currently have affiliate agreements in place with 65% of all the major High Street fashion retailers. In conversation with a director of Marks and Spencer recently, I was told that High Street Fit Finder is a much needed solution as fit and sizing is one of the biggest issues they face.
What kind of reaction and feedback have you had from users?
High Street Fit Finder recently featured in one of the Sunday paper’s fashion supplement and the reaction was fantastic! We’ve also got a brilliant community on facebook. It’s so nice when someone tells you that they used the site and it made finding jeans so quick and easy for them. We also heard recently that people have been recommending us on forums to cancer sufferers who have lost so much weight that they no longer know what size to buy – it’s so lovely to know we can be of help to people!
How did your time on the Dorset Accelerator help the development of your company?
The accelerator helped me to focus on the direction of the business over the next two years, and come up with a strategy to achieve my goals. It also gave me access to some great mentors who have opened doors, made introductions and given me some sound advice. The support network of the group has been invaluable in helping to build my confidence in pitching.
What was the most important thing that you learnt whilst on the programme?
There were a few lightbulb moments when it came to branding and marketing! We were asked to create a brand map in one session where we had to explain the vision, mission, values, essence, voice and personality of our brand (preferably in under 160 characters – a tweet)! It was a difficult task but really clarified in my head what I was trying to communicate to our users.
From your own experience, what advice would you give other companies who may be thinking about launching a product in the fashion retail market?
Don’t just think about it – research it, plan it, cost it (double it), talk to people about it, and then do it! You’ll never know until you try.
What does 2015 have in store for High Street Fit Finder?
More of the same I hope – a growing following, word of mouth marketing, a bit of investment, a team. If we can continue on the trajectory we’re currently on I’ll be very happy.
Find out more about Jo Caley and the services offered by High Street Fit Finder by visiting the website.
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