February 13, 2024
We are thrilled to present an exclusive interview with Lynn Mikolajczak, the visionary founder and driving force behind the Fashion & Retail Tech startup, The Acquired. In this insightful discussion, Lynn shares her inspiring journey from a background in law to the creation of an app aimed at revolutionizing wardrobe management and fostering sustainability in the fashion industry.
Discover Lynn's unique perspective on the intersection of technology, individual empowerment, and sustainable fashion as she dives into the inspiration behind The Acquired and its mission to connect users' closets with fashion retailers and service providers. Join us in exploring how The Acquired is reshaping how individuals perceive and interact with their wardrobes, focusing on style, sustainability, and empowerment.
The Acquired aims to revolutionise wardrobe management through its digital app. Can you share more about the inspiration behind creating this Fashion & Retail Tech startup, and how it facilitates the connection between users' closets and fashion retailers/service providers?
Lynn: The Acquired reflects my journey from a background in law to realising the profound impact of style, especially for women in the corporate world. Initially connecting women with labels founded by women, the idea for The Acquired emerged during the pandemic when business wear demand dropped, and I decided to take control. The initial vision was a Zalando-like platform for women’s business wear, but deeper research revealed the flaws in the current fashion industry model.
This led to the evolution of The Acquired into a digital app that goes beyond advertising-driven, consumption-centric approaches. The focus shifted to sustainability, empowerment, and addressing the root cause of wardrobe frustration. I want to empower users to discover their own styles, optimise existing wardrobes, and contribute to a more sustainable fashion industry.
The Acquired acts as a bridge between users' closets and fashion retailers/service providers. By offering insights to optimize production, enhance resale and rental market value, and encourage mindful buying practices, the app aims to revolutionize wardrobe management. The goal is to create a more sustainable and empowering fashion ecosystem by maximizing the potential of existing clothing and fostering responsible consumption.
Your mission is to help individuals get the most value and potential from their closets for an efficient, stylish, and sustainable life. How does The Acquired contribute to sustainable fashion, and how do you envision it impacting clothing consumption behaviour?
Lynn: At The Acquired, our mission is to revolutionise wardrobe management and contribute to a more sustainable and stylish life. Sustainability, while crucial, might not be the initial motivator for everyone. So, we focus on the individual first. We understand that closets can be a source of frustration, but they can also be a place of empowerment. Our approach is to help users recognize and embrace their style.
We encourage users to declutter and simplify their wardrobes by highlighting the items that truly represent them. Users can upload their wardrobe, and we assist them through our AI system in creating outfits based on their preferences and unique styles. It's about making the most of what they already have and helping them feel confident and empowered in their choices.
For sustainability, we address the issue of clothing consumption behaviour. We encourage to wear items more and longer facilitate the resale or rental of items that users don't wear often, and support in finding new matches based on what they already own and style preferences. The goal is to extend the lifecycle of clothing, aiming for the #30wears Challenge – encouraging users to wear an item at least 30 times. We are currently working on a tool for mindful buying, encouraging users to consider whether a new purchase aligns with their current wardrobe, ensuring versatility and multiple outfit combinations.
While there's a challenge in conveying this detailed message in the fast-paced world of social media, our goal is to make it more digestible, comprehensive, and relatable, helping users make better choices for their closets and the environment.
As a digital wardrobe stylist, you offer personalised, virtual styling sessions. How do these sessions work, and what benefits do users gain in terms of refreshing their wardrobes and developing a polished personal style?
Lynn: Our digital wardrobe styling service is all about simplifying the world of fashion and style for our users. I like to think of myself as a bit of a digital stylist but trust me, it's not rocket science. It's about translating all those style rules into an app that does the work for you. Our personalized virtual styling sessions are designed to help users refresh their wardrobes and develop a polished personal style effortlessly.
With our digitalization service, we dive into users' closets, helping them select the best items and even deciding what to digitize. It's not just about the technicalities; it's about understanding why you have certain items. By doing this, we can guide users on what to keep, what to get rid of, and eventually, what to put up for resale or rental – a feature that we're excited to introduce soon.
Through this process, users gain a deeper understanding of their style. We help them discover what they truly like, whether it's a classic look or something more bold and unique. It's a moment of reconnecting with yourself and your closet, which can be challenging in our busy lives. We see style as a form of wellness, encouraging users to take a moment for themselves, put on a face mask, light a candle, and truly reflect on their style preferences.
Looking ahead, we're also building a network of stylists because sometimes, a personal touch is irreplaceable. By democratising personal styling through the app, we aim to make it accessible and affordable. This not only benefits users but also creates opportunities for women who have a passion for fashion to earn extra income by providing styling advice through our app. It's a win-win, empowering women and helping everyone feel confident and stylish.
How has the reception been for the services you currently offer? Have you observed significant engagement and positive transformations?
Lynn: The feedback from users has been incredibly positive, and what they seem to love most is the sense of organization that The Acquired brings to their lives. It's amazing how much people value the ability to declutter, get rid of items that no longer serve them, and transform their closets into aesthetically pleasing, well-organized spaces. This sense of control and order gives them a nice overview of their wardrobe, making daily life more manageable.
One of the key highlights is the positive impact on users' daily outfit choices. Many users struggle with creating outfits or find themselves stuck in a style rut, repeatedly going for the same looks. The app helps break this cycle by offering inspiration and encouraging them to explore new combinations. It's not about needing something new; it's about rediscovering and reimagining what they already have. This aspect of the app has resonated strongly with users, providing them with a fresh perspective on their existing wardrobe and helping them overcome the boredom of always wearing the same outfits.
The Acquired is not only a digital wardrobe solution for users but also provides an app for fashion brands and retailers. How does the app support conscious consumerism and sustainable business models such as repair, care, resell, and rental?
Lynn: First, we're starting with the digital wardrobe solution, helping people extend the life of their clothes and wear them longer. This, in itself, is a significant step towards sustainable and circular fashion. We encourage users to make more informed and sustainable choices when purchasing new items, emphasizing that sustainable brands might seem more expensive initially, but in the long run, they prove to be more cost-effective due to increased wear and longevity.
Regarding the plans for repair, care, resell, and rental services, we're indeed working on integrating these features directly into the app. The goal is to offer users a seamless experience where they can not only manage their existing wardrobe but also access these sustainable fashion practices easily. We want to be a one-stop solution that addresses the root cause of the fashion industry's sustainability issues – the overstuffed and underutilized closets.
However, my larger vision is to create an ecosystem rather than trying to do everything ourselves. I believe in collaboration over competition. While we may initially implement these services ourselves to demonstrate proof of concept, the ultimate dream is to form partnerships and collaborations with existing repair and care services, and rental and resell platforms, creating a network that works together globally but emphasizes local connections.
This way, users won't have to rely on distant services; instead, they can engage with and support local initiatives, fostering a more sustainable and community-oriented approach to fashion.
Your journey from a lawyer to the founder of The Acquired is impressive. How has your background in law influenced your approach to creating a startup in the fashion and retail tech industry, and what lessons from your legal career do you find valuable in your current role?
Lynn: My background in law has significantly influenced my approach to creating a startup in the fashion and retail tech industry. One of the key lessons I carried over from my legal career is the importance of discipline. In law, having discipline is crucial as it involves understanding and adhering to a set of rules and frameworks. I've applied this discipline to my startup, The Acquired, by creating a structured framework for the business and providing guidelines for those who can benefit from it.
Moreover, my legal career has instilled in me a particular way of communication, which I find valuable in the startup world. Clear and effective communication is essential in navigating the complexities of the fashion and tech industry. I often refer to The Acquired as my "law book of fashion," emphasizing the need to provide a clear framework and rules for individuals in the fashion space.
While my legal career provided a foundation, the journey of building a startup has been a profound learning experience. The startup life is a roller coaster, and I've learned a great deal both on a business level and a personal level. The resilience to face challenges, the ability to adapt, and the determination to keep going despite obstacles are some of the valuable lessons I've carried from my legal career into my role as the founder of The Acquired.
As we step into 2024, what exciting developments can we expect from The Acquired?
Lynn: In 2024, The Acquired is embarking on a thrilling journey, and while we've got a plan in place, the unpredictable nature of the fashion startup world means there's a lot of excitement ahead. Adopting a curious mindset and staying open to whatever unfolds has already brought us more ease and some promising opportunities.
One exciting development is the growing awareness and acceptance of wardrobe tracking and digital wardrobe management. The trend of digitizing wardrobe-related activities is gaining traction, aligning perfectly with our vision and contributing to our increasing recognition.
Rather than chasing rapid, massive growth, our focus is on continuous improvement and optimization. Regular app sprints, engaging with users through coffee meetings, and nurturing our core community are pivotal to our approach. We believe in building a human connection – with our users and their closets – learning from one another and taking iterative steps forward.
We're not just aiming for a tech product; we're envisioning something deeply human, fostering connections and mutual learning. Our goal is to create an impactful business that evolves organically, driven by user feedback and genuine interactions. So, here's to stepping into the future, one curious stride at a time.
Lynn's journey, from kicking off The Acquired during the pandemic to linking people's closets with fashion spots, is seriously cool. We love how she's all about helping people find their style groove, work their wardrobes, and add some eco-chic vibes to the fashion scene.
Closing our chat with Lynn – a huge thank you for being a standout voice on Pixyle AI’s "Voices of Industry" series! Your dedication to reshaping fashion through your digital app is a perfect match for our mission to spotlight transformative voices in the industry. We appreciate you sharing your vision and keeping the style and sustainability vibes alive in the fashion game. You're a legend, Lynn!