Given the amount of time I spend in my work-from-home uniform of leggings, a t-shirt, and a hoody, I sometimes forget how much I love fashion. My idea of fun is a quiet Friday night, a glass of wine, a copy of Lucky or Vogue or InStyle, and at least an hour to stare and covet.
Rachel Schostak, founder of Styleshack.com, would probably feel right at home poring over fashion magazines with me. Her website is dedicated to giving people a personalized online shopping experience with Detroit-area boutiques.
Schostak started the company a year ago after working for a clothing boutique and discovering how difficult it is for a small, independent retailer to establish an online presence. “Smaller stores can’t compete, and I wanted to make the stores easier to find,” she explains. “The mom and pop stores need help coming up with innovative tools, and the technology we’ve designed is so simple and beautiful that it makes it really easy for retailers who may be hesitant to go online.”
Visitors to Styleshack take an interactive quiz where they designate their sizes and choose their favorites from lists of looks and designers to determine their style archetype. Categories include trendy, edgy, sporty, eco chic, romantic, and glam madame.
From there, the site picks items from local merchants that match the user’s archetype. Click on the item for product information or to put it on hold; all it takes is a name, e-mail address, and phone number to hold an item of clothing in the store for 48 hours. “It’s a way to simulate the experience of working with a stylist,” Schostak says.
Bigger brands like Banana Republic have a launched the hold-in-store feature in places like Chicago and San Francisco, and Schostak says she wanted to bring that same convenience to metro Detroit shoppers. “We’re really used to online shopping, so we hope that people will find it useful to walk in the store and find what they picked out waiting for them at the counter,” she says.
Retailers can go to the site and sign up to be listed on Styleshack. Schostak vets the applicants and issues a log-in credentials, which they can then use to post pictures and descriptions of their inventory, link to social media, and advertise promotions.
Right now, Schostak says the site is in beta, so retailers can test the platform for free. In the future, they’ll pay a monthly listing fee of $199, “kind of like the Open Table model,” she says. Schostak will use an affiliate model with retailers that have their own online stores. So far, 22 Detroit-area retailers have signed up.
Styleshack was accepted into the Bizdom Detroit accelerator in August, and Schostak plans to use the accompanying $25,000 investment to eventually scale the company to cities outside of the Detroit area. She says there are sites similar to Styleshack—she mentions Shoptiques and Boutiika—but none that focus on metro Detroit shops.
“Ideally, we’d like to create an amazing and vital marketplace for local shoppers,” she adds. “I want to be able to replicate this so that if you’re shopping in Los Angeles next week, we can recommend boutiques that match your style.”