Starting up in her 50s, Swati Padmaraj is bringing style gurus to one’s home and increase a retailer’s engagement with customers with machine learning platform ‘Style-At-Iz’ by Atiz Fashion House.
After 25 years of being a housewife and a mother, anyone would want to retire after the kids are off to college. But, Swati Padmaraj actually went back to college in 2011 to study a degree in designing and sourcing apparel at Seattle University to fulfil her childhood dream of being a fashion designer.
Funnily enough, the master’s degree in chemistry she got 33 years ago played a vital role in her becoming a fashion designer. “I realised how to use different materials and create my own brand,” says Swati, founder of Atiz Fashion House, which owns startup Style-At-Iz. She adds that while she started off as a designer after graduating in 2015, it was a technology idea that made her plunge into entrepreneurship.
Using the physical attributes of an individual, the Style-At-Iz platform recommends styles that best fit their body. Her aim is to make people look good every day, regardless of their income bracket.
This machine learning platform has been trained on the attributes of thousands of individuals through Swati's design practice. To simplify it, people log in and input their body type after which the platform figures out the inventory of a retailer, and begins suggesting different styles. This is a B2B model designed to help retailers connect with their customers better. The company charges the retail company based on the number of customers that interact on the platform.
It also has a B2C model where customers can come to the app and have access to a style guide for a few thousand rupees a year. Customers get access to a style guru who looks at your wardrobe when you post images of your style wardrobe and makes suggestions about your style. The product has been launched in Seattle in August 2017 and will be launched in India by January. Atiz Fashion House's tech team and India marketing team for Style-At-Iz are based in Bangalore and Seattle and work with a couple of retailers. The company does not want to disclose its revenues as it is still in the PoC stage.
The beginning of Atiz Fashion House
Swati grew up among the seventies and eighties fashion that encouraged her to design clothes from the sixties. “Unfortunately, fashion was not a career that you could think of in India at the time,” says Swati. This was 1984, in Mumbai, and it was only in 2011 that she re-entered undergraduate school in the USA. “It was important to get back to what I loved, and in the USA you can start your career anytime,” she adds.
After her graduation, she began travelling across the world to source fabric and designer apparel. She also participated in several fashion shows. While hosting these shows, she realised a few things - ordinary citizens could not access a style guru even though they aspired to. “A style guide comes home for Rs 30,000 a day and gives your wardrobe a makeover,” she says. Swati believes customers, especially millennials and older individuals would love a style guru on their app. In short, Style-At-Iz democratises fashion guides and gives suggestions on modern fashion. The app begins with a few questions about a person and it begins to assess the style and connect them to gurus, whom they can either pay through the app or just use the app for free.
On the B2B side, the five-member team is going after large fashion retailers in the USA and India. Swati raised $500,000 from family and friends, and thanks her husband for his support and giving her the right inputs to startup. Atiz Fashion House (Style-At-Iz) competes with TryndBuy, Cherrypick.ai, Narrativ and EverThread. According to EY, the organised fashion industry is $21 billion in size.
“Startups are the ones that enable fashion corporates to innovate on their marketing and reach customers faster,” says Gowri Shankar, Chair of TiE Seattle Chapter. Fashion is being brought to the doorstep of your home, so be at ease while you dress to kill and wow everybody every day. The Style-At-Iz team met YourStory as part of TiE-Mumbai's delegation to cover Indian entrepreneurs and startups in the USA.