In Silicon Valley, it can be a notoriously uphill battle for a female style blogger to pitch the idea of another fashion app. But if anyone has the résumé to withstand the skepticism, it’s Mary Orton.
Orton is the editor of style blog Memorandum, a site she created for working women and professional dress while she was toiling on Wall Street at Deutsche Bank. In the three years since, she’s decamped for San Francisco, gained almost 80,000 Instagram followers and dedicated herself full time to style blogging.
Now, she adds a new role to her roster: start-up founder and chief executive officer.
Orton and husband Rich Scudellari today introduce Trove, a style blog aggregator that pulls in outfit posts from top bloggers and lets users save favorite pieces, or click out to buy them. The affiliate link remains the same, so the relationship between the recommending blogger and the merchant remains intact.
For the bloggers, it’s free to participate (although they must be approved); for style-blog fans, it’s easier to browse and shop content, especially on a mobile device, and for brands to whom bloggers link, it increases product discovery and encourages mobile commerce.
The core problem, Orton said, was that fashion bloggers were creating all this professional content, but there wasn’t an ideal platform for them in terms of discovery.
In addition to helping bloggers monetize through affiliate links, Trove is potentially attractive in that it helps Bloggers gain new followers and get insight into which type of content resonates; users can save items to a digital “closet,” and Trove provides corresponding analytics into elements such as how many users clicked through the images and the number of people who saved the outfit.
For now, Orton and Scudellari, who also has a background in finance and recently graduated from Stanford Business School, are personally curating which bloggers appear on the app by looking at not only who is the most popular but which sites have the best long-term content, a unique point of view and high-quality photography.
Bloggers on Trove at launch include The Blonde Salad, Camila Coelho, Song of Style, Gal Meets Glam, Atlantic-Pacific, Fashion Toast, Kerrently and more. “It was very important that at its core, the platform was built by a blogger for bloggers,” Orton said. “I am acutely aware of how difficult it is to run a blog and produce unique content in many different platforms.” Plus, she said, “a lot of this high-quality content on a blogger’s web site was not being consumed because there is no way to consume it on a mobile device.” This, she said, provides a long potential shelf life.
This also means that in designing the app, it was important that it didn’t require more work from the blogger’s point of view in that they don’t have to upload, tag or link. Rather, Trove pulls in the content automatically, including all images, products and written copy.
The two have begun to pitch to tech investors and have so far raised a bit of money from venture capitalists and angel investors. So far, Scudellari said, they’ve been lucky that the two have finance backgrounds, and are thus able to speak to investors in a comfortable way. They said investors are attracted to those who solve personal problems, and there’s such an interest in mobile commerce.
For now, the two have not concentrated on the monetization element from their point of view — a very Silicon Valley perspective, naturally.
“But we are two investment bankers, so the monetization part is not lost on us,” Orton said. “If you build it for them, there is a monetization opportunity.” Trove is available today in the app iTunes store as “Trove: The Style App.”