Styling Made Simple: Heidi Shara, Founder, Wear That With her Dubai-based personal styling enterprise Wear That, Heidi Shara is offering women across the UAE a hyper-personalized way to choose outfits that define (and fit) them best.
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"I have no idea what to wear!" That's a line that has been uttered by many women across time. But the solution to this common predicament is seldom identical. After all, it is true that different women have different ideas of what fashion and style mean to them. To some, outfit montage scenes of female protagonists in movies, à la Jennifer Garner in 13 Going On 30 or Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada, might serve as the basis for their wardrobes. To other women, comfort and/or affordability may be the only factors determining their purchasing decisions. It would appear, therefore, that to cater to the female style quotient is to cater to a myriad of likes and dislikes- and paying attention to such individualistic preferences is Dubai-based tech-driven personal styling company Wear That.
"Personal styling was a service that was originally only targeted towards celebrities and very important persons (VIPs), but Wear That has opened up that space for the everyday woman," says Heidi Shara, founder, Wear That. "These are the women who work everyday jobs and lead everyday lives, and so, they are the ones who, in fact, probably need styling help the most as busy women! Wear That offers a personal styling market for all women- from those who may have very little knowledge on how to style themselves, to the most fashionable women who don't have the time or desire to shop, or simply require more variety in their wardrobe. We love that we have such a diverse database of women with different needs and solutions to be solved."
No wonder then that #RealGirls is the main tag line for this startup that was launched in 2018. For Shara, the inspiration to create her own venture was drawn from a decade's worth of experience as a womenswear buying manager in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Italy, as well as her native nation of Australia. "Having styled thousands of women all over the world, and having spent over 10 years in fashion buying in both luxury and mass markets, I witnessed the lack of styling services available to everyday women," says Shara. "I set out on a mission to create, change, and offer real women access to something that has traditionally only been available to celebrities or VIPs. That is how Wear That was born. Our mission at Wear That is to be the styling solution for every "real girl." We want every woman to be able to experience having a personalized stylist! We built Wear That to save women time, make them feel awesome, and give them an opportunity to be styled."
For the women keen on using Wear That's styling services, the process is simple. For starters, simply log onto the Wear That website and take its style quiz, wherein one's clothing size, budget, and style preferences need to be filled out. Following this, users need to make a one-time payment of AED105 that offers access to unlimited Wear That boxes with no subscription fees. Wear That's proprietary technology then allows users to chat directly with a personal stylist -who is chosen specifically based on the information entered prior- via WhatsApp. Once a given user's likes, dislikes and other fashion needs are discussed, a Wear That box -with custom- ized clothing and accessories- is directly delivered at no shipping cost. "After that, you get to keep what you love, and we'll collect what you don't- only pay for the items you want to keep!" Shara adds. "We leverage data science as well as our customers' lifestyles to identify where to deliver personalization at scale, thus transcending traditional brick-and-mortar and e-commerce retail experiences."
Shara, however, remains adamant that the impact she wishes to create through Wear That isn't limited to just fashion and styling- the human touch within the startup's offering is what truly creates a difference, she says. "We never wanted to just be a box service- we wanted to create an experience for our customers and solve the problem whether it is time, money or stress," Shara explains. "While competitors are working to broaden their product offerings for their customers, we take a different approach, providing targeted personalized looks to make the act of shopping that much more enjoyable. You see, the problem of not knowing what to wear is not going anywhere; that problem will not change. But we use our tech system to make the solution easier for our consumers, while also having found the right balance where our stylists can still connect with clients on a much deeper, human level. This has led to a 65% repeat customer base month-on-month for us today."
Source: Wear That
But despite half a decade of being in business, Wear That sometimes feels the sting of an unchanged mindset when it comes to personal styling. Owing to the perceived doubts about the cost of hiring a stylist, as well as the lack of body diversity within the fashion industry, Shara says her enterprise's core offering is still labeled as an inaccessible luxury service by many. But she also believes Wear That is slowly pushing the envelope with its presence in the market. "We chose very early on to focus on the contemporary market when it comes to our product mix as we wanted our clients to be able to afford the outfits they loved," Shara shares. "The days of only wanting to wear high fashion are gone; our clients want a mix. We also are one of the only styling solutions to be fully size-inclusive as well as style-inclusive, and we have hired stylists in all these [areas of ] expertise, as we don't believe in excluding anyone. Quite the opposite, in fact! Overall, the fashion industry in the UAE and the wider Middle East has the potential to be more personalized and accessible, and Wear That makes that a reality."
In working towards ensuring that Wear That's services feel accessible to the everywoman, a purely customer- centric approach has been necessary, says Shara. "Fashion buying was a great training ground for what I wanted to achieve at Wear That, as you buy collections for women based on feedback," Shara says. "You remove yourself completely from what you like, and transform your energy into what the consumer will like. Our model at Wear That is therefore entirely based on feedback- we know what you like and what you don't, and we use this information to provide you with a better experience each time you receive our outfits. Understanding women, their preferences, and identifying the common pain points has never changed, whether I'm in fashion buying or Wear That. The difference is using that knowledge to provide a better solution for women, and having enough resilience as an entrepreneur and trust in yourself to do something differently and provide a better solution."
It is a sentiment, Shara admits, that hasn't changed ever since her startup's humble beginnings. "I started Wear That in the spare bedroom of my home, and [the joy of ] seeing our clients look and feel amazing has never changed," she says. "They should feel confident, stylish, and comfortable in their new looks. When a woman 'wears that,' she should transform into the most captivating version of herself. Our mission is to ensure our #RealGirls always have the best personalized looks styled head-to-toe for their unique size and shape." Over the years, this ideology -of using styling as a means to help women build confidence- has certainly ensured the startup's financial success as well. "When I started Wear That, the business was totally bootstrapped, and we focused on one thing only: what our customers wanted, and how we were going to get it for them," Shara recalls. "This has never left the culture of Wear That, as one of our values is to 'do more with less.' When we started Wear That, we had a waitlist before we had a website, so we knew the problem we were solving was far greater than heavily investing in things we didn't need at that stage. We also took a slower approach to building our tech at the beginning, and we spent the first 18 months or so really understanding what our customers wanted, what were their bottlenecks, what issues did our stylists face, and we started implementing solutions piece by piece to solve and optimize these bottlenecks, which, I believe, has led to our hyper growth rates of over 200% year-on-year."
Looking to the future, Shara remains confident that her enterprise will only go from strength to strength. "Our mission is to be every real girl's styling solution, which means we are taking Wear That to become a global brand," she reveals. "Scaling our stylists, our tech solution, and geographical expansion is next. Also, expect to see from us new ways to shop to make your life easier, better ways to get styling advice, and how women all over the world can embrace their unique size and shape by simply clicking on Wear That. I'll keep the rest as a surprise!"
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