“Fashion has always been married to technology,” Jinhee Kim said.
To continue celebrating its union, Korean American Harvard grads Kim and Sarah Paiji developed a new iphone application, Snapette, aimed for the “Snap-Happy Fashionista.”
Kim and Paiji designed the app to create a companion-style application that is location-based and mobile. Snapette is the first app that lets you share and browse the hottest shoes and bags near your current location right from your phone. Searches can be done by brand, store, or description. Snapette allows users to simply snap photos of bags and shoes from their favorite stores and share them amongst other like-minded Fashionistas– like window shopping right from your phone!
If you want to browse styles and trends overseas, Snapette also allows users to browse what other viewers are posting from around the world. With each application, users are given their own “virtual closet” displaying what they’ve snapped, Like and Want, and the ability to share their closets over Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Audrey Mag had a chat with Kim and Paiji about Snapette, being female entrepreneurs, breaking out of the stable Asian American stereotype and fashion.
AM: What is your vision behind Snapette, and what is the goal and aim of your company’s product?
We want to create an active, passionate and global community or social network of women around fashion, both on mobile as well as online. We also want to create a platform for retailers and brands to engage effectively with existing and new customers.
How was the experience of starting your own start up technology business as a female Asian American duo?
It’s like being an Asian American female in the math and sciences. Overall, females are underrepresented in these fields, but Asian Americans are overrepresented among the females in this field. Similarly, while tech remains predominantly male, Asian American females seem to be relatively prevalent. Founders of many of prominent fashion tech websites such as Polyvore, Lookbook.nu, Chictopia and Fashionstake include Asian American females. Interestingly, we posted on general school job boards for interns and received an overwhelming response from Asian American undergrads.
Do you feel Silicon Valley has a growing population of Asian American Business Women?
Yes, absolutely. Purely anecdotal, but all of the female VCs I’ve met with are Asian American. And as I mentioned above, a lots of the prominent fashion online communities and ecommerce sites have Asian American female founders.
What differentiates Snapette from other forms of Fashion-interaction – such as Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter?
Snapette is a combination of the best mobile and social fashion experiences.
The entire focus of the community on Snapette is about discovering and sharing fashion. While you can watch fashion videos on Youtube or fan designer labels or stores on Facebook, Snapette creates dialogue and community specifically focused on shoes and bags. We’re also location based and mobile so it’s a great companion while you’re actually out and about shopping. The genesis of the idea came from my frustration at not being able to easily search for great products while I was out shopping. I didn’t have my laptop to research sites or ask forums or even send out a wall post on FB for recommendations. With Snapette, you’re connected to the community even when you’re out and about. And you’re able to get relevant product information right in your hands at any time.
As teenagers, did you ever envision yourselves contributing or dipping into the Fashion Industry as a part of your careers?
Yes, but my parents shot that idea down pretty quickly. I was supposed to be pre-med. When I told my parents I wanted to switch my major to visual and environmental studies at Harvard (as close to fashion as you could get there back then), they told me they wouldn’t pay for my college. So I had to wait until after I graduated and saved some money working as a consultant at Bain before going to Parsons. Oh yeah, I never made it to med school.
Is Snapette useful to anyone else besides its target group of Fashion friendly females?
Funny you should ask that question because we’ve gotten lots of comments from guys who say this is the perfect app to help them find gifts for their girlfriends that they’d actually like. Some other guys have asked if they can post photos of collectible sneakers they find.
What have each of you learned about yourselves through this whole start up process of Snapette?
Most surprised at how comfortable I am with uncertainty. I always pegged myself as pretty risk averse. Maybe I still am but have just realized that there really isn’t too much downside to entrepreneurship right now (I truly believe that a small window has opened, with everything going on in social and mobile, and we’re in a time now that anyone really has a shot at building the next big thing. It’s like the late 90s again, hopefully 1996 not 1999) I’ve spent a lot of my life preparing for this year, being a good kid, working at name brand firms, going to name brand schools. Going to Harvard, doing banking/consulting/PE, and then back to Harvard for a second time. A lot of “work hard now and be happy later.” I think this year I surprised myself and actually cashed in. Speaking of cash, tuition is due soon and I’m about 50:50 about coming back.
Audrey Magazine is an Asian American Magazine – do you have any tips for young Asian American women looking to break into the Fashion World or industry?
Fashion is such a huge industry that regardless of your academic background or prior work experience; you can always find a way in. I took the business route into fashion and then transitioned into the design side. Find a way in with the skill sets you currently have whether it’s technical, creative, marketing or finance related. From that starting point you can learn, build your fashion related work experience and transition into other areas that really interest you. Also assure your parents that if the fashion thing doesn’t work out, you can still apply to med school because you took all those pre-med classes in college.