For any woman who has seen pictures of impeccably-dressed celebrities and thought picking out an outfit every morning would be much easier if they too had a personal stylist helping them shop for clothes and piece a look together, Mildura startup Your Style Revolution wants to bridge that gap and make obtaining styling advice more accessible.
Founded by Anika Walker, formerly a stylist at Melbourne’s Chadstone shopping centre, the platform looks to help subscribers find, define, and become more confident in their personal style by connecting them with regular content from Walker and, depending on their subscription tier, access to one on one advice and styling.
The idea came to Walker when she did an event at a shopping centre in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, with the shopping centre funding free one on one styling sessions for shoppers.
“It was at that point it occurred to me that regardless of age or size and all those things, people still want access to a stylist and that guidance and education…I think it was one of those lightbulb moments,” Walker said.
“Previously, I think the demographic of women I was seeing probably earned a certain amount of money and looked a certain way, and all of a sudden with this event I saw it opened up; there were women who said to me, ‘I don’t have much money but I still need a new dress’, or, ‘I’m a larger woman and want to know what suits me’ and that kind of thing.”
The process of bringing the platform to life has taken over two years, with Walker at first finding it difficult to explain what she wanted to developers.
“The way I’d explain it to people was, it’s almost like the Michelle Bridges of the personal styling world, and that was my brief,” she said.
From there, the most time-consuming component was writing the content.
This content is available to subscribers across all three tiers. The content is split up across separate chapters, with each chapter starting with a video from Walker explaining what it involves, and then providing users to worksheets and resources to help them better understand their personal style and step by step guides to doing a wardrobe edit accordingly. This is regularly updated as seasons and styles change.
Along with this content, the next tier up offers subscribers a 30 minute video call or phone chat with a senior stylist, where one can send through photos of themselves and have a Q and A to get a personalised, one on one experience.
The third package then adds on an in-person styling session with a stylist one on one, available in whichever capital city they select.
Walker is also creating monthly video blogs on various trends, for example the top four denim pieces available now, talking through colours, shapes, and fit.
“The idea is that it’s giving the education or style hacks and tips I’d give my one on one styling clients so they still feel they’re getting that connection with me each month,” Walker explained.
Subscribers are also given access to a private group, where they can ask questions for Walker, or other community members, to answer.
The startup’s target market is predominantly women aged between 30 to 35, with Walker building up her database first through her personal styling clients.
Walker explained, “These are the women who have these trigger moments; it might be starting a new job, having a new baby, going back into the workforce after having a family, or it can be before menopause.
“Often there’s a trigger that makes them say, ok, I need a little help here. As women, at some stage in our lives, we have that feeling of, this is stressful and getting dressed shouldn’t be hard.”
As the number of subscribers has grown, so too has the private community group, where Walker has seen the women come together to help each other, with a few even meeting up to organise making the most of a buy two, get one free sale on an item.
“That wasn’t something I would have predicted or could have predicted, that there would be that connection between this tribe of women who are relying on each other. I think that’s where the magic is, you can see where people are learning and they jump in to answer questions,” she said.
Watching the way this group operates and what subscribers are after beyond the regular content has given Walker ideas about how to take Your Style Revolution further.
“Once women learn what I can teach them, it’s more about that day to day; once you know what you know, you can go on about be confident, so now it’s about where to go from here,” she said.
“What’s happening in the private group is what I need to give more women access to, because there’s content in there that’s worth capitalising on and getting it out there to more women.”
Walker is also rethinking the revenue model; at the moment, subscribers undertaking the one on one styling sessions are given access to discounts on items through deals with a number of retailers, but Walker’s ideal would be to have the entire Your Style Revolution supported by retailers, with access free for subscribers.
There is also a degree of difficulty in offering the one on one styling sessions to women in regional areas as the platform grows; given Walker is based in Mildura, she has been able to grow her subscriber base locally, however she has found that the preference for most is to go to Melbourne for styling because of the greater choice and range of product available.
“They put so much value on that time with the stylist that they think, if I’m going to do this I’m going to do it properly and have access to as many choices as possible. People regionally might also think, five other people are going to have those same boots or coat, when they’re looking for that piece who can set them apart,” she said.
Walker this year took part in the Australia Post Regional Pitchfest competition, competing in the Victorian state final in Ballarat in June; connecting with other startups across the country, the Melbourne Accelerator Program, and the network of mentors associated with the Pitchfest has been invaluable in helping further refine the Your Style Revolution concept.
Looking ahead, Walker is focused on growing out the content on the platform, and seeking out partnership opportunities with retailers. Having been working on the business part time up thus far, she is now gearing up to go full time in the coming weeks.
“I feel like I’m on the cusp of exciting things because all of a sudden I’m going to have multiple days through the week where I can throw myself into it.”
Image: Anika Walker. Source: Supplied.