Shopping has always been something of a social experience, but perhaps never more so than it is today, what with social commerce pushing the boundaries of retail as we know it. There are, perhaps, few more poised to enter the social shopping arena than Uncovet Co-Founder Heather Lipner. The L.A. fashion and tech aficionado got a front row seat for the rise of social media courtesy of her gig as the former creative director of MySpace.
These days, Lipner is working hard to build Uncovet into the go-to destination for fresh, design-driven finds curated by a team of experts according to members’ tastes and preferences. Often grouped in with product discovery sites such as Fab.com and Of A Kind, Uncovet emerged from beta earlier this summer and relies on what it calls a Style Graph to deliver products you’re likely to appreciate based on your Facebook likes and other trends percolating in the online media landscape. Another draw? Sharing the site with friends who become new members results in discounts and rewards.
Speaking of rewards, Uncovet is offering DSD readers the chance to win a $100 Uncovet shopping spree. The rules are simple: you must be an Uncovet member, follow Uncovet on Pinterest and confirm your entry by making a comment on below. A winner will be chosen at random from the entries.
But back to Heather. We caught up with her recently to chat about fashion, technology, startups and Uncovet’s plans for social shopping world domination. Kidding on the last part (sort of).
Favorite techie accessory: I adore these magnetic wood mobile stands. Small enough to take in your pocket, strong enough to prop up your iPad. When I throw them into my bag, they stick together (as they are magnets), so it’s nearly impossible to lose one. Bought these off Uncovet.
Coming from Myspace, you’re someone who’s been on the front lines of social media. How key are social connections to the future of online shopping and fashion consumption? Social connections are essential to the future of online shopping. Getting feedback via social likes, shares and connections from across the web delivers specifics on personal preferences and, in turn, we can more accurately recommend products. Moreover, at Uncovet, we thank our customers for sharing our products by giving out credit and better discounts. It’s a win-win for our audience.
Tell us about the SoCal fashion and tech scene. Any thoughts on how operating there differs from, say, being in the Bay Area or New York? I don’t think there’s a huge difference between the New York and Los Angeles fashion and tech scene, but perhaps a slight difference. What’s happening is more and more of the fashion world is moving from NY to L.A. This move is primarily due to the job opportunities of the growing apparel manufacturing market meeting the demands of today’s ‘fast fashion.’
Tech plays into the latter as L.A. embraces trends, change and, of course, celebrity. Hence the slight difference you’ll see is that L.A. companies may focus on trend and celebrity a bit more than companies being born out of New York and the Bay Area.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about the Uncovet audience since your launch? In the beginning I was surprised how many guys were into Uncovet. I guess I thought guys didn’t buy online as much as women. After that learning, we made it a priority to make sure we have enough guy stuff on Uncovet.
So many social commerce sites these days are solely focused on women. What drove Uncovet’s decision to sell to guys too? Guys are interesting because when they see something they like, they just buy it. I think they don’t really like all the researching and browsing that women typically are comfortable doing. So at Uncovet, we try to nail it by putting the best guy stuff up. I actually love shopping for guys. It’s a bit more challenging because styles are a bit more stagnant. We look for men’s lifestyle products like graphic magazines, comics, tech toys, tees and industrial decor items. And we’re on it when there’s a micro trend for men like pocket tees or leather key chains.
At DSD, we love it when we see a company that uses data in style-savvy ways. Where does Uncovet find its style graph data and how does the company use it to offer site members new products every day? We look at Pinterest, Svpply, Etsy and influencial blogs and publications for data on what is shared and liked. It helps us understand trends, rising designers and products. We feature products that are trending right now, have been and will continue to be shared across the web for a good couple of months.
Does the style graph mean what I see on Uncovet is different from what others see? Yes, we are providing recommendations now. Another thing to check out is when you are looking at a product page you can see which of your Facebook friends we think will like that product based on their style. We understand people’s style based on their social likes as well as activity on Uncovet.
What three sites, apps or web tools have you been using lately that we’ve got to try asap (other than Uncovet, of course)? Most used app: Waze. Man, I am driving all over lately from the west side to downtown to West Hollywood and back around again. Waze gives me the best route based on traffic. It’s fun to learn the backroads, too.
Most used website: Pinterest. So addicted to it. Follow me – pinterest.com/uncovet.
Most used browser plugin: Exfm. This is primarily how I listen to music. It pulls all the music from the web page you’re on and into its player. You get an automatic playlist, see the songs you’re listening to, play, pause, can favorite them, travel page to page. Love it.
What’s your most coveted low-tech indulgence? Weaving. I spent almost a year hand weaving a 3′ x 5′ rug. I got started because I was interested in the art of weaving: illustrating with yarn, using my hands to create something from nothing. Took hours per inch, a very expensive use of my time ; ), but quite satisfying and super low-tech. Hah, complete opposite of what you would expect from someone who is addicted to the internet, right?
More digitally stylish people…