ShopThing’s founder Maggie Adami Boynton is a technologist who has now linked her professional life to her personal passion for fashion, style and retail. In this exclusive interview she gets candid on creating one of the fastest-growing live shopping apps and breaking down all the details surrounding the live shopping app's continued success!
By. Angel Neal
ShopThing “shoppers” sell designer apparel, accessories, footwear, and handbags all at a discounted rate. Being Live, the app allows you to truly see the luxury piece in action and from all angles!
“This one may seem obvious, but you would be surprised by how many entrepreneurs think that a good idea is enough; it’s not. The idea is just the beginning of the journey. Taking that idea and turning it into a success is the most challenging part and takes a lot of work."
Disrupshion Magazine caught up with the savvy tech fashionista in this exclusive interview below.
What do you love most about ShopThing?
Well, everything, it’s essentially my 4th child! Beyond the excitement of pioneering a new industry to North America and disrupting traditional retail and e-comm, what I love most is watching that change in consumer behaviour from a traditional very static and transactional experience, to one that is entertaining and engaging. We believe that shopping can (and should) be so much more than simply buying a functional item - we’re sharing joy (think: finding new brands, discovering your new favourite influencer, or sparkly shoes you didn’t know that you needed, but now that you’ve seen them, you NEED them) to create an experience that has our customers coming back time and time again.
You speak about responsible disruption in the fashion industry. Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Responsible disruption is to prioritize customer pain points, expand market opportunities, or increase overall service efficiency. For decades, the only way to purchase something was to go to a physical store, try it on, and pay at checkout. Then online shopping became the biggest craze—millions of items at our fingertips and all you had to do was click an image (but let’s be honest, there’s no replacement for the experience of feeling a coat’s fabric or trying on a shoe for yourself). Live shopping is the perfect combination of the things we love most about in-store and online shopping: engagement, experience, and convenience. Bonus? ShopThing brings the magic formula of influencer marketing and their trusted reviews. Our retailers can drastically increase brand awareness, grow sales and reach hundreds of thousands of customers that wouldn’t have set foot in their store. Some companies report conversion rates up to ten times higher than in conventional e-commerce. Live shopping is undoubtedly disrupting the retail landscape and the future of how we shop and sell. Our retail partners see a huge spike in brand awareness and foot traffic after a Shopper event—something we've coined “the ShopThing effect.”
How are you seeing the representation of minority women in tech change? 75% of our leadership team is female, and 100% persons of colour. It’s a huge moment for minority women in tech.
How does fashion help you express yourself and build your confidence?
I am 100% a true believer that you can’t be overdressed, only undressed (ask anyone that works in our office!). Fashion can definitely build your confidence. If you didn’t love something, then try something different! The great thing is that they’re just clothes at the end of the day. There’s always a different outfit for a different mood tomorrow! Dress how you want to feel and the right outfit will change your whole mood.
Tech has played a big part in the development of your company. Briefly discuss its fusion with fashion and where do you see the forecast of fashion and tech heading in the future?
At our core, believe it or not, we are actually a tech startup, even though to our consumers we look like a high-end fashion retailer. Our technology is what has allowed our influencers to create instantly-shoppable links, in real-time, in under 30 seconds! We use our technology to connect not only influencers with our customers, but also our customers with brands and retailers. As Gen-Z and every subsequent generation spends more and more of their time online, technology will continue to play a major role in the fashion landscape. ShopThing is already at that intersection, and we plan on continuing to evolve by offering our customer and brand partners more ways to shop and sell through live video.
Congrats on raising 10 million in funding! Is the company planning to expand internationally?
Thank you so much! We don’t want to ruin any surprises, but yes we have our sights on international expansion. Today we operate in 5 markets and plan to triple that within the next 12 months.
Do you have a mentor? How did you meet her/him? How do they continue to help you professionally?
My sister and mom have been really big mentors for me. Both fierce, strong women who have managed to juggle motherhood and careers. Both have been exceptionally successful in their careers and work harder than anyone I know. My mother instilled in me a very incredible work ethic and my sister is always there to challenge me, offer up amazing advice and help as much as needed. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without them.
Some feel blowing a big budget on influencers is not necessary. On the other, social media influencers and celebrities have an impact on our shopping expenses. What are your thoughts on that?
Well, our current model is entirely based only on influencers, so that's insight on how I feel about them! No but seriously, Millennials and Gen Zs are an intelligent bunch. They see right through glitzy marketing campaigns and don’t trust when advertisements are coming from the brand themselves. Instead, they value the opinions of influencers they follow and are much more likely to make purchases based on their recommendations. In fact, 50% of women have made a purchase because of an influencer (Digital Marketing Institute, 2021).
In your opinion, how are women changing the classic “tech founder” stereotype?”
Simply, when most people hear “tech founder” they think of a male, mainly because tech is a predominantly male industry and typically, so are founders. There is a significant funding gap for female entrepreneurs: while billions of dollars in global venture capital funds were doled out in 2020, female founders received just 2.3 per cent of the pot, according to Crunchbase, which tracks data about the tech industry.
What fuels your individual passion for fashion, tech and social media?
My love of fashion comes from my mom. She is definitely my inspiration and I’ve looked up to her since I was a little girl. I combined this with social media to create my fashion blog, which was a testing ground for the early days of ShopThing. My passion for tech stems from my endless curiosity. I love learning how entrepreneurs build their empires using tech and I feel that tech has the ability to unlock so many doors.
What qualities do you look for in a personal shopper who wants to be apart of ShopThing?
There are too many to list, but if I had to narrow it down to just 3 key things, it would be the love of fashion, camera presence, and product knowledge. We are always looking for new personal shoppers to join our team: all sizes, personalities, backgrounds, and markets. Send me a DM if you know anyone :)
What practical advice would you give young women wanting to set up their own businesses?
Learn from your own and other people’s mistakes.
A lot of entrepreneurs think that failure is a bad thing, when in fact, failure is always an opportunity to learn. You can not only learn what not to do from others’ mistakes, but you can also learn how to evolve your own business from your failures. Over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot from failures in fundraising, partnership, hosting live shopping events and so many more. My motto is that failure is allowed, as long as you never make the same mistake twice!
Don’t take it personally.
Entrepreneurs who take things too personally will likely have a tough time receiving constructive feedback that could right a sinking ship. They can feel attacked when anyone makes a comment that isn’t overwhelmingly positive. A good leader needs to be able to dissociate their emotional feelings from these situations and see it is as an opportunity to improve their company. Stay focused on the vision.
Worrying about what could have been or dwelling on the past is not helpful in your journey. Staying focused on your vision, the present, and the work ahead of you will help you achieve your end goals. Understand that challenges will arise and setbacks will happen, but knowing how to quickly move on from them is one of the most important things you can do. Bad days are inevitable, so I’ve learned not to make any game changing decisions on those days. I like to take a “time-out” in those scenarios. Sometimes it’s a day off, sometimes a long lunch, or sometimes as simple as a 5-minute walk to reset and refocus.
It’s not going to come easy, put in the work.
This one may seem obvious, but you would be surprised by how many entrepreneurs think that a good idea is enough; it’s not. The idea is just the beginning of the journey. Taking that idea and turning it into a success is the most challenging part and takes a lot of work. This is something I like to tell any budding entrepreneur or really anyone that is struggling with something: if it were easy, someone would have already done it. Remember that it’s supposed to be hard and you’re supposed to work through the challenges and obstacles.
Too many entrepreneurs start a company thinking that their vision, idea, or business is so invincible that failure simply isn’t an option. Unfortunately, we’ve all read about businesses with brilliant products that are no longer around today. Why? There are so many factors (internal and external) that come into play. The best entrepreneurs see failure as one of the multiple possibilities and make decisions accordingly to better equip themselves for the future.
Since launching the membership VIP program, what has been the overall reaction? Overwhelmingly positive!
It’s been less than 1 month since launch and our customers are loving the early access and opportunity to shop exclusive sales. We are working hard to create a full calendar of VIP events for these customers and use their feedback to continuously enhance the ShopThing live shopping experience. Who is your fashion icon and why? Alexander McQueen! For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved McQueen. From his carefree attitude about life to his over-the top creativity. McQueen had a really unique way of taking edgy pieces, like the classic skull, and adding a very soft feminine touch to it. It’s that perfect intersection of edgy and whimsical that speaks to me.