You may know the feeling. An idea is brewing for years. Then, one day, you find the courage to make your dream a reality. That’s how Celeste transitioned from Product Manager at The Los Angeles Times to entrepreneur with her virtual wardrobe app, Boudoir. Here’s how she did it.
What brought you to GA?
While taking BEWD I was working full time as a Product Manager on the digital team at The Los Angeles Times.
Why did you decide to learn back-end web development?
For years I had been carrying around the idea for Boudoir, I created designs and sought out ways to build a prototype. I finally decided designs were not enough, I needed to get a first version built and GA was a great way for me to get my hands dirty with coding and get an MVP built.
Tell me about your app, Boudoir.
Boudoir is a virtual wardrobe app that allows users to digitize their closets, making it easy to know what you have, find what you need, and shop smarter. Users can upload photos of their items, tag with color, brand, item type, or any other information to easily search and sort their wardrobe. We’re currently working on functionality that will allow users to create outfit combinations and shop for items that compliment their wardrobe.
Fashion tech is growing rapidly. What makes your app stand out?
There is definitely a lot happening in the space, especially when it comes to fashion discovery. We’re really focused on creating a utility that doesn’t just inspire users by showcasing fashion trends, but allows users to truly become organized and strategic about their purchasing decisions.
Tell me about your Startup Next experience.
Startup Next is the first official startup program I participated in and it was a great way to be introduced to mentors and continue to refine the Boudoir pitch. We pitched every week for 6 weeks and took feedback from the group. The program culminated in a final pitch competition in which representatives from local Santa Monica VC firms, accelerators, and angels judged. I’m proud of winning the event!
How has GA been a resource to you?
GA has been an INCREDIBLE resource, not only in terms of hands on learning, but in community and network building. I have met so many great people through my class at GA and the events GA hosts. In Santa Monica, GA is a huge resource that isn’t to be missed.
What do you think is the biggest misconception that you’d like to address about Boudoir in particular or the market at large?
It’s well documented that the startup space is largely made up of men, so often times I find myself pitching Boudoir to men who might not totally understand the problem space. When I describe the product to women, I see their eyes light up, they get it, they understand the problem. I don’t think a lot of men see the need for this product, but I usually ask them to go talk to their sisters, daughters, girlfriends and wives for validation. So to summarize, I think its a misconception that the process of getting ready in the morning/choosing how to purchase for our wardrobe is not broken.
The other misconception I think is to characterize the fashion space as trivial. We showcase ourselves to the world every day, whether we like it or not, making choices every morning about how we want to present ourselves. We make choices about what to purchase to create our image to the world. There is not yet a great way to help people to make strategic choices about how to curate our wardrobes. I don’t believe that to be a superficial problem.
You have an interesting background as a product manager, developer, and now a fashion tech entrepreneur. What is a common opportunity or challenge you’ve experienced in these roles?
Great question! First I think a great opportunity, and its hugely important when practicing UX design, is having empathy and understanding the challenges others face in their roles. To have a successful product you need to juggle building exciting and engaging experiences, basic usability concerns, controlling costs, using frameworks that are scalable, and many, many other things. I’ve had the opportunity to really get into the weeds within many different disciplines, which is a huge help when being strategic and thinking long term about a product.
I think the common through line in all the roles I’ve held is a dedication to user experience, in a broad sense. Users aren’t just consumers, users are your employees, other developers who may work with your code, producers who may use your CMS, anyone who interacts with a system that you create. I am passionate about considering the experience of those who interact with me personally, and the products and systems I am a part of.
What are the next steps for the company?
We are seeking seed round funding and designing our next product release.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Just do it. Don’t let fear get in the way, if you are passionate about something, use that passion to fuel your progress. It can be incredibly scary but that’s why it is so satisfying, I feel truly alive..
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
I had Jeff Dickey as a teacher in the BEWD class, and he is a rock star. First of all, he’s brilliant, second of all, he’s a fantastic teacher and really cares about transferring knowledge and demystifying things most people would be scared of. I’ve worked with so many developers over the years who hoard their knowledge, it is great to meet and be taught by someone with the opposite mentality.
Nelson Igunma is an Alumni Stories Writer who works on our Front Lines team, keeping our General Assembly NYC campus running day-to-day.