How many times have you been shopping, and let your mood or feelings get in the way of what, retrospectively, would have been a good buy?
Women are their own worst enemies when it comes to deciding what to wear - whether it's formal wear or gym gear, and this is mostly an issue of letting body confidence in between you and a good outfit.
With intimate knowledge of these decisions, and a lifetime's worth of research, Purva Gupta came up with an idea for an app that would help women utilize their emotions when buying. It would build an algorithm based on body positivity rather than body issues in order to promote body confidence and a happier shopping experience.
Gupta finalized her decision to build the app after interviewing tonnes of women (in over 10,000 hours worth of interview) on the street about their bodies and what makes the decision for them when buying clothes - and it was mostly, their faults, rather than their assets.
And therein, Lily was born.
Gupta's innovation coupled with her knowledge of women's insecurities have proved a winning combination, and since its launch, Lily has made waves in the tech and fashion worlds. Techies are heralding it as an app that "drives behavior never seen in the offline world" because Lily never stops working. It logs all searches and items clicked on to collate a broad view of what the user wants or likes, and forms opinions based on these results. It's like the best friend that comes shopping with you every time, but remembers exactly the shapes, colors, lengths and all other specifications you like.
Lily won Startup Conference's Best Startup award in Silicon Vally back in May and may well be 2017's most interesting invention for women, simply for its mission to promote self-esteem and body confidence above all else. It's currently working with a few curated retailers, ASOS among them, and hopes to keep expanding and adding different sources for all the lovely ladies of the Lily world. SWAAY spoke with Gupta about how her app can affect change for women's body confidence in a positive and empowering way.
Purva Gupta at Startup Conference
How does the app work?
To begin with, the app asks users a few quick questions about body type, style preferences and how they perceive their body- one example of a question Lily asks: “How would you describe your décolleté (that's French for chest — I'm very worldly!)?" Then it recommends clothes, as per what the user is looking for, from their favorite stores that will flatter their body & perceptions. With every like/dislike of the user, Lily learns and makes the next set of recommendations better. The level of detail that Lily understands, is almost impossible for a human stylist to understand from hundreds and thousands of products people browse on Lily. Lily is able to do so because our technology enables us to understand attributes in depth about every single item of clothing available on Lily.
Yet, Lily prides herself in making the woman understand how every single item of clothing recommended to her by Lily flatters her individual body type and minute details she shared with Lily, just like how a great human stylist would do. Yes, every single item, in real-time.
How is your app enabling women to feel better about themselves, more empowered?
Girls start recognizing themselves in the mirror at the age of two and from that time on, they start disliking parts of their body. In their teen years, they start developing perceptions about their body and making judgments about it (thighs, tummy etc.) -- usually negative -- relative to the physical appearance of their moms, friends and celebrities. As young adults, these translate into serious insecurities like, “I'm fat," “I'm not good enough," or “I'm less than others." To the effect that women in the US have 13 negative thoughts about their body every single day! Think about that. That's nearly 1 negative thought for every waking hour. Recent study by Dove & UN shows that 8 out of 10 girls with low-self esteem choose not to do something because they feel they don't look good enough.
It doesn't matter how these girls actually look -- because it's all about how they THINK they look! Their perception becomes their reality because their mind has been cultivating and reinforcing these negative self-images since a very young age.
At Lily, the definition of emotion we use is the perception gap between reality & expectation. When the gap is positive, there is confidence and when the gap is negative, there is insecurity. In the first few minutes of a user's interaction with Lily, we try to understand where the perception gaps lie for every part of the user's body. Lily asks how the user feels about her body — what parts she likes to accentuate and which ones she'd prefer to minimize — and then uses a complex matching algorithm to make recommendations.
"The power of this idea lies in the mix of science and organically ingraining positivity in their mindset every day."
How is Lily empowering women with trends this summer?
Lily understands everybody type, every minute detail she learns from the user and uses it to find clothes that will truly flatter the user's unique body and perceptions about her.
Ruffles, a (romantic summer) trend that adds volume and shape by highlighting specific parts of the body to create balanced proportions.
Oversized sleeves and romantic statement sleeves are very on trend for summer allowing women to de-emphasize their arms without wearing too much fabric.
Off-the-shoulder tops are one of the hottest trends too for someone de-emphasizing their arms and shoulders.
The relaxed fit is also very on trend which helps in camouflaging any extra pounds. Crochet/embroidered fabrics are on trend for summer with thicker fabric which is not as revealing.
And if you're still (inexplicably) unsure about downloading the app, head on over to their Twitter for some expert advice about body shapes, and what to wear for you this fine summer.
A playful crochet frill top adds volume & shape to the upper body. Pair it with a tailored ruffled skirt for the perfect summer ensemble!?? pic.twitter.com/gjnwakWH6N
— GetLilyApp (@getlilyapp) June 2, 2017
How many times have you looked at something and thought: I wish this did more? And how many times have you thought long and hard about what else you could make it do, if you had the resources, time, and a factory-load of people working for you?
We've all certainly been there. Whether we were 5 and inventing a flying Barbie, or futuristic football, or 35 and looking at the kitchen imagining a self-taught robot that would help with the nightly dinners. We've all come up with what we thought were million dollar ideas - but almost none of us follow through because we're already too busy, and somebody else has probably invented it already.
For one woman, this very sequence of events took place when she was just a teenager. Unimpressed with her dog's collar, she created a new one with florescent sides (making them more visible to cars at night) that would fit more comfortably on a dog or cat's neck. But because of her relative youth, the collar was never produced, and a year later was released and patented by another company.
The girl, Joy Mangano, vowed this would never happen again.
Fast forward to 1990. Single mother-of-three, Mangano has a bigger, bolder idea. This time, the Miracle Mop is born, launching her career as an entrepreneur and setting her up for a life in the spotlight with her product launch on QVC. Between then and now, Mangano has accrued 100 patents (for products like the Huggable Hanger and My Little Steamer) and her company, Ingenious Designs is worth over $50million.
This story was told in Hollywood by David O.Russell in 2015 with his Golden Globe winning movie, Joy. Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of Mangano served to highlight the difficulty of entrepreneurship and instruct on the minefield of patent disputes.
Mangano's latest product is one she says she's been working on for her entire life: a journal, a manual and a self-help for entrepreneurs wrapped up in her book, Inventing Joy: Dare to Build a Brave and Creative Life.
SWAAY spoke with Mangano about the necessity for this kind of book in this age of entrepreneurship, and how it will resonate with aspiring female inventors and change-makers.
Drawing on her success and the pains it took to get there, Mangano has penned a book that will no doubt be a bible for those looking to take their flying Barbies or futuristic footballs to market. "I️ believe it will be a resource for people they can keep coming back to," she remarks. "This book truly is a lesson for anybody - in their careers, no matter what age."
Her family have been crucial to the whole process of building her brand and expanding Ingenious Designs, for the last 17 years, and have informed many of the chapters in the book. "I️ am fortunate enough to work with my children, family and friends and they were completely integral (to the books production)," says Mangano. Her daughter Christie serves as SVP Brand Development, Merchandising & Marketing Strategy having worked with her mom for thirteen years. “She's my left brain," laughs Mangano. Both her son Bobby and other daughter Jackie have worked elsewhere before also coming under their mother's umbrella. Bobby currently serves as Executive Vice President of the company and Jackie is involved with the fashion side of the business, which is certainly no mean feat, as she is also involved in styling for the upcoming reboot of The Murder on the Orient Express.
"When you can do things in life - work and follow your passion with people you love - it makes it all that much more meaningful and pure happiness."
The launch of her book signals new territory for the serial inventor, who has her first opportunity to tour the country and speak to those whose homes she has appeared in for the past 15 years on QVC and HSN.
"This is really one of my dreams," she comments. "I️'ve always wanted to go around the country and meet all of my customers and this is one way to do that. It couldn't be better."
"95% of my customers are women so I️ can't help but be an advocate always."
While on tour, Mangano is destined to meet a host of people that will tell her of their inventions or start-up ideas, but none more so than the millennials, who are completely reinventing the notion of entrepreneurship. Mangano hopes that through the book aspiring female entrepreneurs will be able to take solace in the fact they don't have to do it all. "I️ truly believe - this is a generation I️ watch, a lot of them work for me and with me - today, more than ever, they think they have to do it all."
"Dressed beautifully and in a meeting, they'll say 'I've been up since 5. Dressed the kids. Fed the kids.' And then (after work) they'll come home, have quality time, bath time. And I️ say - you can miss a game." If there's one thing she would invent for millennial women, it's this very advice, she says.
Rather than a product, or an item, it's this advice that, contrary to the millennial mindset, you don't have to be five places at one time or working 20-hour days to get where you want to be. Instead, Mangano has sections of the book that will inform on how better to manage your time and your ideas - to employ her methods - so you can become successful with (a little) less stress.
When asked how social media and the digital age has influenced her real-world inventions (like mops, hangers, steamers and pillows), Mangano chuckles. Technology, rather than impairing the invention of real world application actually opens up a 'wider range' tells the inventor. “It opens up a direct - to - consumer feedback and enhances your platform."
"With Instagram and Facebook my customers communicate with me. That's critical for looking at what you do and for the future of what you do."
Out of the dozens of things she's invented, Mangano won't say what her favorite is. "What am I️ most proud of? That's hard to say - that's like asking what child do you love the most and I️ don't think I️ could be prouder of any of them."