I am not even going to lie. Shoppr caught my interest the first time I heard about it. Being a fan of pretty clothes, fashion and looking at other people’s OOTDs myself, the first thought that went through my mind when I learned about Shoppr was, “Why wasn’t it created earlier?!” Just imagine a Pinterest-like app especially dedicated to fashion that helps you find inspiration on those what-should-I-wear-today days and provide suggestions for places that has similar outfits. If you’re a fashion-loving girl and you tell me you’re not amazed by it, you can’t sit with us, sorry. But if you ARE amazed, you’re going to want to continue reading as we have something cool to share with you at the end!
Anyways, guess who we managed to sit with (well, sort of), though? ROJAK managed to score an interview piece with Shoppr’s co-founder, Sylvia Yin, who was recently selected for Forbes’ “30 Under 30 Asia” for retail and e-commerce, to learn more about this highly-raved about app, the obstacles she had to overcome and some valuable fashion advice. Sylvia holds a degree in economics, and manages Shoppr’s operations while leading customer and business development, so you’re going to want to take notes!
To start off, tell us a little background story on how the idea of Shoppr came about.
I developed my online shopping habit while I was studying in the UK. E-commerce and finding what I wanted are easy there. When I returned home, I experienced the opposite. To elaborate, I spent more time than I cared to. First, I have to research what the item I liked was called, for instance, those wide leg pants that were trending are called culottes. Then I proceed to figure out where to buy it. But what was most frustrating is to finally find something similar, then realise it is not available in the region. This discontent gave rise to the idea of Shoppr as a solution to seamlessly blend the inspiration-to-purchase experience. I still online shop, but what I absolutely love about Shoppr is when I do go to the mall and find something I want, and discover that it’s a bit expensive or they ran out of my size, I can use the personal “Inspire Me” feature to upload an image of that item for Shoppr’s technology to identify a similar item available to me in Malaysia.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome during the early phases of developing Shoppr?
The steep learning curve. With no prior experience in entrepreneurship and technology, I had to get myself acquainted as soon as possible in order to lead a team to accomplish this mission. For months, I read voraciously about startups and surrounded myself with people smarter than I am so I could get up to speed quickly.
What about the greatest lesson learned?
Operating in a startup differs greatly from a corporate environment. There isn’t a playbook for you to refer to when problems and situations arise, so the faster you are able to do experiments to test the solutions to your problem, the faster you can fail and learn from said failures, and the better your chances of survival.
What were the general reactions from friends, family and the public when they first found out about Shoppr?
Our friends, family and the public were really supportive. We did not expect a turn out of more than 150 people at our launch party in May 2015, including prominent figures in the local fashion scene like Miss Universe Malaysia, Vanessa Tevi.
What do you think is the biggest change that Shoppr has impacted on society? Or what do you hope to change/inspire with Shoppr?
The best part about building Shoppr is hearing our users tell us how much more confident they feel. The community of like-minded fashion forward girls on Shoppr has become a source of encouragement for others who may be a little shy to express their own style but still love fashion. My biggest hope for Shoppr is to be the reason girls in South East Asia feel good in what they are wearing and are unapologetically themselves.
Other than fashion, is there anything else Shoppr might venture into in the future?
For now, Shoppr’s focus is on female fashion, but there are definitely many other categories we are looking to venture into like Shoppr for Men, Plus Size and Muslimah, just to name a few. Shoppr is continually expanding its offerings, so if you are interested in getting a taste of what it is like being a part of a fast growing fashion tech company, email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about interning with us!
Random, but curious question. Why eliminate the “E” in Shoppr”?
We caught your attention and made you wonder didn’t we? If yes, you have just held Shoppr in your thoughts for a couple of seconds, enough to make an impression *smiles* But in all seriousness, our founder, Ken, named it Shoppr and I’ve never questioned it.
Do you have any thoughts about the fashion scene in Malaysia?
The Malaysian fashion scene is still nascent but we are slowly getting there. A good majority of the public is still playing it safe by choosing to follow trends versus forging one. However, I believe the local designer scene will pave the way towards a more mature fashion environment as designs coming down the runways of KLFWs are increasingly creative and unique with visible injections of what’s uniquely Malaysia.
Describe your style in one sentence.
My style is minimalist chic so think lots of muted colours like nude, navy, grey, black and dainty jewellery for subtle accents.
At what age did you start showing interest in fashion and what was your earliest memory of it?
At the young age of 11! I remember being utterly obsessed with Lizzie McGuire’s style on Disney Channel and would want to dress just like her. She sparked my initial interest and curiosity in how others choose to style and dress themselves. I remember roping in my mom to help me with the computer to create a fashion survey using Word. I administered the survey to my classmates asking questions such as if they preferred dresses or skirts. Little did I know, I was already doing market research back then!
What is the one outfit or style you will never be caught dead wearing?
Any of the crazy Japanese styles like Lolita or Manba. I don’t think I’ll look good in them and even if I do, I won’t feel like myself.
Bit of advice for girls who like to dress up but has a strict budget?
I am a huge advocate of investing in staple pieces and buying statement items to amp up your look. Invest in key pieces like black leggings, a white shirt, an LBD and a pair of jeans. Go for colours that can be easily paired with others such as black, grey and white. Then leverage off fast fashion to easily build a trendy wardrobe around these key pieces without breaking the bank.
If you could own any celebrity’s closet, who would it be and why?
This is a really tough question. I will choose… Nicole Warne or Miranda Kerr, maybe. I just can’t decide!
Do you have any favourite fashion decade?
I don’t have any favourite fashion decade. I love them all!
Would you pick comfort over style or vice versa?
People often think it’s an either or situation but I believe you can be both stylish and comfortable at the same time. What is the point of looking great if you can’t walk, breath or function properly to have a good time?
As is ROJAK’s tradition, we asked Sylvia completely random and irrelevant questions to get to know her on a more personal level.
Are you a night owl or morning bird?
Morning bird! I wake up everyday around 6.30 to 7am for 45 minutes of yoga practice and 10 minutes of meditation.
Most embarrassing memory from your childhood?
Walking into a glass door that was impeccably clean and spotless. Good job to whoever cleaned it.
Four seasons in Malaysia. Yay or nay?
Both yay and nay, but leaning towards nay. Yay because I get to dress and rotate my wardrobe according to the change in seasons. Always love a chance to change styles! But having lived in the UK for 3 years, I don’t think I want to deal with the cold and the constant need to check the weather before leaving the house.
Biggest pet peeve?
People shaking their legs!
What’s your favourite dessert?
Big, big fan of dark chocolate. Nothing below 75% dark!
Would you rather forget who you were or who everyone else was?
I would rather forget who everyone else was. This decision is influenced by my yoga practice. Being mindful and cultivating self-awareness is the ultimate goal of yoga, so in my opinion, it’s much better forgetting everyone else. You can always get to know them again!
Shoppr Rewards Program
So remember the cool thing I mentioned earlier? Well, guess what? ROJAK is now collaborating with Shoppr to give you FREE shopping credits to spend in the app when you sign up with our unique link*!
Food (kinda), fashion and free stuff?! Life doesn’t get any better than this so I’d SIGN UP for the mobile app now if I were you.
Share the love with your friends by sharing our link, bit.ly/myrojak, on social media! Everything to gain, nothing to lose! So what are you waiting for, ladies? Get started and let’s be fashionable together!
*Only applicable for females on first time mobile download. Each new sign up is rewarded RM5.00 with the ability to earn more.
Founded in September 2014 and based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Shoppr is a fashion app that identifies similar items of any outfit you see. It is the easiest way for you to learn how to style and search for the clothes you want to buy all in one place.
Someone who aims to write with a spoonful of brutal honesty, a dollop of dry humour and a healthy dose of sarcasm. A realist who dislikes anything and everything sugar-coated.