Whering case study for Pixyle, interview with Svetlana Kordumova, CEO and founder of Pixyle.ai and Bianca Rangecroft, founder and CEO of Whering
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) used to be technological solutions limited to computer scientists, but are now powerful tools in various sectors, including fashion. Bianca Rangecroft, founder and CEO of Whering, looking to find a way to use AI to offer consumers new experiences while improving the buy, use and throw away business model, decided to create an app that digitizes your wardrobe. Working with Svetlana Kordumova, founder and CEO of Pixyle.ai, which offers AI-powered solutions that automate the extraction of detailed attributes from images, the two work together to empower consumers to shop and make more informed decisions when shopping. Leveraging Pixyle.ai AI to power Whering’s digital wardrobe, the two founders share a vision of using technology to bring sustainable change to the fashion industry while increasing product traceability. Ahead of International Women’s Day, we spoke to the two founders to learn more about their companies, their journey together, and how they’re using AI to educate consumers of all ages on how to dress greener for less.
Where did the idea to create Pixyle.ai and Whering come from?
Svetlana: I have scientific and technical background. I did my PhD in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Amsterdam where I worked with computer vision and image recognition technologies. While working on my PhD in Artificial Intelligence, I found it frustrating to shop online because finding what I was looking for was a lot of work. I remember one event where I fell in love with a dress one of the speakers was wearing and wondered why I couldn’t just take a picture of that dress and upload it to the web to find it instantly, knowing that the technology was ready – instead of manually search hundreds of pages. I came up with the idea to use the image search and visual search technology I was developing during my master’s thesis to help e-commerce retailers improve their shopping experience. After graduation, I founded Pixyle, which was originally a sustainable fashion marketplace. After nine months, we moved from B2C to B2B to have a greater impact by implementing our technology on other marketplaces, e-commerce stores, platforms and mobile applications such as Whering.
Bianca: I have a background in banking where I worked for four and a half years before the idea for AI styling recommendations came to me while working on the Stitch Fix IPO. I noticed sustainability flaws in the company’s subscription services because they didn’t know what customers already had. After realizing how much wardrobe utilization and compensation data was left aside, I was inspired to create a B2C product that would enable retailers to take advantage of this important information. Then I realized the app was a way to move to a B2B offering that could help retailers become more sustainable by better selling to a more targeted audience, reducing wardrobe gaps, and reducing returns with a data-driven personalization system. Our big differentiator is our proprietary AI, which can recommend an outfit based on the weather, location, community inspiration, and your friend’s outfits to try out a new look.
How does Whering work?
Bianca: Whereing is a wardrobe management tool, including a wish list, mood board, and calendar. After downloading the app, you either take photos of the clothes in your closet and upload them, up to 200 at a time. Or you can take advantage of the universal clothing database, which contains the basic items that most women and men own, and add them to your wardrobe at the touch of a button. You can also add items from Google search or import items from online stores to your wardrobe. You can also swipe up from any link, such as Net-a-Porter, to import that item to your mood board, wishlist, or wardrobe. Users can use Whering to create outfits, AI styling for specific events, or use the iconic “Dress Me” feature, inspired by the 90s movie Clueless with gamification with a Tinder-like swipe function, making finding an outfit more fun. The app also offers other services and will soon be community-based, allowing users to share calendars, borrow clothes and bid on resold items. Our goal is to reorganize the entire way we consume fashion and how we can use those purchases.
How does Pixyle’s auto-tagging enable the Whering digital wardrobe?
Svetlana: Pixyle is an AI-powered product discovery and data enrichment solution for fashion e-commerce. Pixyle AI technology automatically tags and creates product data for the Whering digital wardrobe, using advanced AI image models to identify key product information. Whereing uses the Pixyle tagging solution to automatically enrich product data when new products are uploaded to the platform. In this way, Whereing can provide relevant searches and create more personalized recommendations that allow users to find exactly what they are looking for. Simply put, our visual AI engine automatically generates tags from photos uploaded by Whering users.
How does Pixyle support the growth of Whering and vice versa?
Svetlana: We met when we were both starting out and Whering became one of our first clients. When I started Pixyle, I didn’t just want to sell technology; I also wanted to provide the expertise behind the technology. I like to see us as a partner, not a software supplier. Every customer is different and we want product data enrichment to really work in every specific situation. Right from the start, our teams were in agreement about what Whering was trying to accomplish, and we made sure we had the right configurations set up before our AI models went live. For Whering, the images are mostly shot on mobile phones, so we trained our AI models with user-generated content specifically for their use. I think both of us as women founders of fashion technology brought us closer together. Our relationship has grown beyond customer and service provider to strengthen each other and our businesses. As women in a male-dominated industry, we faced similar struggles, but were able to share our journeys and support each other. We are looking forward to our first face-to-face meeting in London in April.
Bianca: Pixyle has supported Whering from the very beginning. We have established a strong working relationship allowing a trusted partner to build the MVP and iterate from there which has been crucial to our growth. We refined our UX and learned how to incorporate Pixyle technology into our styling technology. I think the iterative journey has helped both companies grow stronger, bringing our expertise to the fore while also strengthening our teams. Finding a reliable supplier is difficult for start-ups, but Pixyle provides affordable, high-quality services. We can work together without compromising on price or quality, which is rare for startups. I am happy to say that we are working together for the long term and I am excited to continue their journey.
What are the key points you both learned from this partnership?
Svetlana: Three key points we have learned from this partnership are the importance of listening, adapting and responding to customer needs in order to continuously improve our product. Secondly, it was crucial to trust our teams and empower them to take over customers and talk to them while supporting each other as they grow. It was great to share experiences and support each other as founders of the fashion industry. We learned to be open, discuss issues, and listen to what others have been through. Trusting and allowing our teams to do great work has been key to our success.
Bianca: Working with Pixyle has taught us the importance of setting quality standards early on in order to improve our product and stay focused on our goals. As a non-technical founder, it’s easy to create a basic version of a product while running MVP, but working with Pixyle provided a baseline to start with, and their iterative process helped us continuously improve our app. We appreciated Pixyle’s flexible pricing and scaling options, which enabled us to grow sustainably as a young start-up. Having a partner like Pixyle has helped us stay accountable and improve the quality of our products. I am grateful for the support and development opportunities that we can share.
Where do you hope to see Pixyle and Whering in five years?
Svetlana: We want to change the way people discover products online by helping them find exactly what they’re looking for easier and faster. Our goal is to become the leading AI-powered visual product data enrichment platform for any business selling anything online. In five years, we want to have a global reach, serving e-commerce clients in the furniture and household goods, cosmetics and beauty industries. In addition, we will establish a strong position in the fast-growing social commerce industry and process huge amounts of video content. Finally, I believe that in the near future, companies will hire more and more highly skilled data analysts and AI experts. This will allow us to access our AI models and enable them to train and build their own tailor-made AI solutions. I believe that by supporting a strong and collaborative data science community, Pixyle can drive innovation and advancement in AI, creating a more enjoyable shopping experience for everyone.
Bianca: Our goal is to reach 20 million users within five years as we aim to become a popular social commerce platform for promoting circular fashion and mindfulness. We use AI to help users replicate the outfits they like and already own. In addition to fashion, Whereing is also considering developments in interior design and decoration. The platform offers a range of plug-in services allowing users to style their stuff in new and exciting ways. Whering’s partnership with Pixyle has enabled us to gather insights and educational articles to promote the sustainable use of wardrobe. We plan to create reports that will help users resell or ethically donate unused items. Whering is committed to teaching future generations how to make the most of what they have.
Check out their website to learn more about their solutions: www.pixyle.ai