Meet Yara Aldhaen, the Bahraini entrepreneur revolutionising the way we shop
Fashion and technology have long gone hand in hand, and there's a new innovation launched by young Bahraini entrepreneur, Yara Aldhaen, that uses algorithms to adjust the way we shop, offering custom-tailored preferences and of course, style. Similar to your Netflix and Spotify playlists, the platform, aptly titled SEPT, will redefine your shopping experience and tailor pieces for your personal fashion taste.
Interested in the way it works? We spoke to Aldhaen to give us insight into the user's journey, how the idea of SEPT first came about, the future of fashion and who the gen-z Khaleeji woman is.
Congratulations on the launch of SEPT! How was the idea of SEPT first born?
Thank you so much! It has been 2 years in the making! Short answer, all the scrolling trying to find a dress for next week's wedding! As much as I love fashion, I found the experience exhausting and time-consuming. You end up sharing links on WhatsApp groups asking friends if this dress is "ME!". I thought to myself, I love my Netflix and Spotify because they get "ME", but when it came to fashion, as much as personal style is soo personal – the experience was lacking. All of us we're looking at the same screen, even though we are different and unique. SEPT is about building a company from the ground up with HER in mind. It's the come as you approach that SEPT is all about.
Can you walk us through the user’s experience once joining SEPT?
SEPT is a completely personalized shopping experience, no two feeds are the same! The girl takes a 30-second quiz similar to an Apple Music in which we get to learn more about the brands, cuts and fits that she likes. From there we start personalizing her feed. Her homepage is actually a section called "Today for Me" in which we send her daily items just for her, she gets to swipe right "ME" or left "NOT ME" on items which will help optimize her feed. On her social feed, she gets to see what others around her are into, and what SEPT is into (we put so much effort in scouting the gram for up-and-comers). Once she clicks on the buy button, she will be redirected to our partner to complete her purchase. We partner with the world's best brands and e-tailers to bring a really magical shopping experience to life.
Who is considered the gen-z Khaleeji woman?
She’s the girl who’s been born with a phone in her hands, communicate with her pals on Snapchat and TikTok is her form of entertainment. She loves shopping online and discovering new designers. She’s extremely savvy, loves trying new things out and telling her friends about it.
What are your thoughts on the future of digital, whether as a whole or just in fashion?
I say that we are a tech company but in the near future – every company needs to be a tech company to survive. The customer is super tapped and demanding (rightly so!), and the market is rapidly changing as the startup scene is heating up in the region!
You’re an advocate of fashion sustainability. In the future, would you use SEPT to guide users into making more sustainable choices? Such as a dedicated section similar to ‘Sunday Specials’?
I am very acute to the fact that the fashion industry is one of the biggest environmental pollutants globally. But I am very well acute to the fact that the customer is intelligent, conscious and stylish. More and more brands are trying to incorporate sustainably in their supply chain and we created a section on the app for sustainable products where each is tagged (we do the work for her!). My hope is that we can eventually scrap the section and tags, as more brands know that being a sustainable business is just “table stakes”. And we also don’t stock fur or exotic leather, not cool in the SEPT world.
In your opinion, what will be the way we shop in the future?
The biggest challenge you faced while working on SEPT?
Unlike many of my peers in the startup world, I don't come from a technical background. So I had to learn to speak the tech language without knowing how to code! It's an amazing learning curve when you jump in and decide, "I'm going to build a fashion personalization platform, without knowing how to code". I surrounded myself with the best team, and they made the magic happen!
Can you share your opinion on the fusion of technology and fashion in the digital age?
I think there will be no “fusion” of fashion, tech will just become fashion.
SEPT is currently available to iPhone users (it'll require iOS 11.0 or later) on the App Store.