Doris Lin: Digital + Fashion Entrepreneur Reveals How to Lookmaz!ng

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lookmazing is an invitation-only fashion and beauty haven connecting fashion discovery with social networking.

I had the pleasure of meeting Lookmazing's founder and recent Harvard Business School graduate, Doris Lin, at a Fashion+TechSF event hosted at Citizen Space a couple of months prior.  What I have learned of Doris is that she's soft-spoken but savvy, prohibitively intelligent, and incredibly benevolent.  I am so honored that she granted me an interview because she truly is a visionary and an entrepreneurial role model.

I hope you enjoy our Q&A.  Please also check out Lookmazing's digital magazine for an editorial and interview with SF Shop Girl!

You were an MBA student at Harvard University when you conceived the idea for Lookmazing.  What is the story behind Lookmazing’s conception?

I was double majoring in business administration and computer science at UC Berkeley and became particularly fixated on how to apply fashion to technology.  I enjoyed people watching and admiring outfits from afar, but I was always too shy to inquire about where they purchased their pieces from.  I would literally rush home to try and locate the items online.  The inspiration was drawn from these experiences and inherently, I knew, that there had to be a way of bridging the online and offline shopping worlds through a social network.  Even though I had conceived of the idea at Berkeley, I really cultivated and tested the model when I was attending business school at Harvard. I also had immense support from my professors and fellow classmates. 

How did you transform the business plan for Lookmazing into a tangible, interactive product? 

I talked a lot about it first. Then I started with something small, an idea that I could completely cultivate, rather than a vast plan.  I would build that particular faction of the model and then test it.  This conceptualizing and testing took place over two consecutive summers. The start of my fellowship really aided in  jump-starting development.  I had a team, consisting of people I knew and friends from business school behind me to assist in building the product.  We used the "The Lean Startup" model, meaning we tested our hypotheses first, then developed our platform step by step.
For those still unfamiliar with the site, can you explain a bit about how the overall platform works?

The platform is for fashionistas to connect with retailers/brands and shoppers. We have partnerships with brands and retailers in order to allow trendsetters to create shopable content. This can be achieved by using LookMazing's tagging technology. When others shop those looks, the fashionista benefits by receiving commission points that are redeemable for gift cards. Members can also browse other profiles, including a member's closet and add favorite items to their wishlist.  Essentially our goal is to reward those with great style.

What marketing advice would you give to fashion+tech entrepreneurs who are still in the early stages of product development?

Differentiate yourself.  Focus on what your brand is and surround yourself with other products that support that brand. Disseminate your content by focusing on search engine optimization and social markets. Determine your niche and create an inclusive product that caters to that demographic.

You completed your undergraduate at UC Berkeley and your MBA at Harvard.  How do the fashion scenes vary on these two very distinct campuses?

UC Berkeley-Laid back approach to style
Harvard- Dressed up very nicely, polished, preppy

How would you describe your personal style?
Simple and Classic.  I tend to prefer accessorizing a simple, symmetrical blazer and an LBD.

Doris Lin, founder of Lookmazing, trendspotting at FIDM in L.A.


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