I'm not perfect. My mother told me that when I was young. Now I have a family of my own and I'm still not perfect. As a self-employed mother with two children, I don't have time to go shopping by myself, let alone with friends. So I started shopping online but everything I found turned out to be too long, too short, too small, too large. I remembered what my mother told me, I'm 'not perfect'. Whatever I bought needed returning; the express mail service clerk became a new friend. I did some research and found that up to 40% of online clothes sales are returned by the buyer. This was wonderful news to me: 40% of people 'aren't perfect' either!
And then I started thinking about how to improve this return rate and designed a 'Dress You App®'. You measure yourself and create a personal avatar, which helps you 'try on' clothes online, replicating the fitting room experience on your phone. The avatar can be rotated 360°, walk and even run. Or, if your other half hates going shopping, create their avatar and shop at home. Maybe even getting you and your two children into a changing cubicle is hard enough, let alone getting clothes that fit them...(parents, you know what I mean).
The app is useful for retailers too, who can offer it as a download to customers during the online shopping experience. Promoting the app alongside products helps retailers to reduce customer return rate and reduces the cost attached to the logistics of returning items. The app will also help companies collect data - giving them access to the size and measurements of people within a particular country or market area.
I'm delighted to be taking my app to the European International Women Inventors and Innovators Network (EUWIIN) conference and awards in London this week. I am sure I will find there other women, not perfect either, but who try to improve their lives, their families, the world of science, technology, in the environment and social sectors. The bi-annual event, now in its fifth year, celebrates the achievements of women working in fields traditionally dominated by men and will highlight the work of 31 nominees from around the globe.
In particular my own field, the digital sector, is still considered 'male' even in 2015. EUWIIN is starting to change this attitude and, by giving proper recognition to the achievements of women, will continue to challenge misconceptions.
It has been inspiring to hear Andrea Brewster, the president of this year's host The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, speak about women and their inventions 'taking up space' in the business world. Women should be confident to protect their inventions with intellectual property assert you're their IP rights in defence of their space. In her talk, Andrea said that, in finding our space, "the only 'male' behaviour we [business women] need to emulate is having the confidence to be ourselves" and I think that is an incredibly important point to take away - not being perfect doesn't matter.