merges the classical e-commerce shop with social elements such as the possibility of creating your own user space to share inspiring images with the rest of the community. The platform also allows you to receive notifications geared to the labels & products that you choose, avoiding an overload of unwanted updates. We got the chance to talk to Emily O’Brien, editor-in-chief, who took quite a traditional route into the industry. After obtaining a degree in journalism and English she went through a string of internships and landed in her first editor position at, one of Britain’s leading blogzines. O’Brien joined in January 2012, shortly after its initial launch, running all editorial and creative content. Interview by Lorenzo Molina

Who founded the website?
Styloko was founded by Ivailo Jordanov and Yury Tereshchenko, two entrepreneurs with a keen interest and expertise in the digital and technology industries.

When did it start working? How was the initial reaction?
Styloko was launched towards the end of 2011 - we launched at a time when Pinterest was just beginning to gather huge momentum so there was a real appetite for discovery and sharing inspiration across platforms online; this idea that you could get a sneak peek into someone else’s private scrapbook of everything that’s inspiring them. Consumers quite quickly bought into our concept of discovery commerce and we developed a savvy community of users who loved sharing their fashion finds from across the web.

How did you come up with the idea of styloko?
When we looked at how far e-commerce had come since its initial inception some 14 years ago, we realized that really, very little in that process has changed. Of course, there is much greater knowledge and power in the field now, and retailers have done a great job of utilizing content and customer service to provide a better experience, but the fundamental process is more or less the same: you go to your favorite retailer, search through the products until you find something you like, and buy - then go to the next site and do the same. It involves hopping from site-to-site and searching through endless products until you find something you like. We felt that in this digital age, the modern woman should have access to an online store that’s built especially for her; that cuts out all that search time and site-hopping, and presents her with a never-ending stream of items from the brands she loves - pieces we know she’s interested in and wants to buy, all in one place. On top of that, we wanted to combine personalized, curated shopping with all the elements that make up her purchase decision - style inspiration, great content, and discovery - to provide a complete, compelling shopping experience.

How many members does your team have?
We’re a very small core team - there’s 10 of us in our London HQ, but we have an office in Bulgaria for our in-house developers, too. We have a very tight-knit, family-like environment which makes us all very close.

Styloko users can create their own boutiques, a personal space to share their favorite items
Styloko users can create their own boutiques, a personal space to share their favorite items

Styloko allows users to create their own boutiques, personal spaces where they can share their favorite items and other users can start following their updates. Among the boutiquers, there are “celebrities, stylists and bloggers, including some of the hottest names in fashion.” Could you mention some of the illustrative names? Did these people create a profile voluntarily or does the website’s team also do recruiting work?
We’re very lucky to have some great style influencers and fashion insiders among our style-savvy community: TV presenter Angela Scanlon, presenter and stylist Antonia O’Brien, and style bloggers Reem Kanj from Five Five Fabulous and Natalie Hughes from Canned Fashion are among those to have curated their personal boutiques on Styloko. We work with key style influencers and insiders in a collaborative manner - it’s crucial in today’s digital world to work with their influence to grow our company’s reach. Of course, there are plenty of similarly style-savvy girls who create their boutiques off their own backs because they genuinely love our site, which is brilliant. I think it’s important to understand where you can succeed organically, and where it’s worth investing to accelerate your growth.

Do you have a “typical” user of the platform? If so, who is he/she?
We don’t have a typical user as such - we’re committed to personalized shopping and value the fact that every woman will have a different idea of the perfect, or ‘typical’, experience - but there are certainly key characteristics that sum up our audience: fashion and style obsessed, socially-savvy online, and of course, a passionate online shopper.

Styloko features over 7,000 high street and luxury brands. Is there also room for small labels and newcomers? Do you search actively for new brands to join the platform? How and in which channels does this search happen?
We’re an aggregator, so we work with almost every UK retailer to have all of their products on our site. This means we naturally inherit any new brands and designers that they stock, so we’re constantly adding cutting edge labels to our repertoire. Lots of brands also sign up to affiliate networks independently, too, which enables us to join their programs and promote their business directly. We’re committed to providing a platform for up-coming designers, so we’re constantly on the lookout for new names to know that we have the potential to make an impact in the industry - we regularly spotlight 'ones to watch' on our blog, and/or feature their products in our shopping stories. We’re actually working on something that will enable us to do more work along these lines, but that’s all I can reveal for now!

Styloko's blog use the audience shopping feedback for editorial purposes
Styloko's blog use the audience shopping feedback for editorial purposes

How do you stay in touch with your users and get feedback about the platform?
Social media is a great way for us to communicate with our community - we’re always only a tweet or Facebook comment away from our audience’s feedback. From time to time we also have surveys on site that we encourage our users to take part in - we reward them for doing so, too! In the future we’re looking to hold small, intimate gatherings with our users to better understand what they love - and more importantly don’t love - about our site. The best way for us to grow is to fundamentally understand what our audience wants.

The website blog shares fashion & beauty news, galleries and products with the users. How do you harmonize the blog’s communication and the product & label assortment with what the users say/buy?
Integrity is key for us, and we pride ourselves on our discerning eye for product selection, so we’ll never recommend a product to our users that we don’t genuinely love - this forms our shopping features first and foremost. Of course, if we know there are particular brands that our audience is buying into really well, then we’ll use that knowledge to feed through to our recommendations, too.

Styloko's Instagram profile, one of the social chanels where the company is present
Styloko's Instagram profile, one of the social chanels where the company is present
How important is social media to increase traffic on the website? Which social platform is the most successful for you?
As a social shopping site, social media is hugely important to us. We use it to engage in direct conversation with our audience and maintain a constant presence in their online experience. We have a presence on all key platforms - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, and Pinterest. We’ve built a really strong, engaged community on Facebook that now totals almost 100,000 fans, and our Twitter account drives a lot of traffic to our site. Our next step where social is concerned is to grow our Instagram and Pinterest accounts - both are so visual, which lends itself really well for fashion. I think the most important thing with social media is to really understand how each platform works, and how they differ from each other: who uses this platform, why do they use it, what do they want from you on this platform, how can you tap into their experience in a meaningful way? Then you can tailor all of your content to each platform specifically. A one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work.

Tell us about your personal sources of inspiration for your daily work.
I'm inspired by all sorts of things - I think you have to be in today's digital world! We find inspiration in everything from the runways to favorite magazines to style insiders and Instagram when planning for editorial. On a professional level, I'm inspired by my contemporaries, our consumers, and our competitors who force us to stay one step ahead constantly and consistently, and remind us that we can always be better. Personally, I'm inspired by leaders in the digital, fashion and technology industries, particularly strong-minded women - I consider myself very lucky to be working at a time where women like Natalie Massenet, Angela Ahrendts, Sheryl Sandberg and Sophia Amoruso are paving the way for women at the top. And, as I said before, my team: I couldn't ask for a better group to challenge and inspire daily.

What are the future/long-term plans for the site?
We have a number of exciting developments in the pipeline that'll get us one step closer to our dream, but I can't reveal what they are - you'll have to stay tuned!