Calgary, Canada 2012 – 2014
“Pics on someone your own size!” BeauCoo is startup offering a community for women to share shopping and styling tips with other women of the same proportions. As part of the founding team and BeauCoo’s first and only creative director and UX designer, I owned design and user experience for the launch of BeauCoo’s web platform, iOS app, and Android app.
My role as Creative Director included brand development, logo design, UX, mobile and web design, photography, and marketing materials. I designed the BeauCoo logo, illustrated all materials, built and shot photography in a DIY photo studio, and executed all elements of mobile and web design from wireframes to A/B testing optimization.
BeauCoo successfully raised $1.2 million in venture funding rounds, published more then 350 pieces of original content and was widely featured by the press including TechCrunch (3x), Wired, Business Insider, Forbes (2x), Mashable, InStyle (print), Vanity Fair (print), Fox News, Venture Beat and the Huffington Post. BeauCoo was named as Alberta’s 25 Most Innovative Organizations and awarded Technology of Exceptional Potential by UK Trade & Investment’s Global Entrepreneur Program.
Awards and Merits
Technology of Exceptional Potential – UK Trade and Investment’s Global Entrepreneur Program *UK Trade Commissioner) – November 2013
Alberta’s 25 Most Innovative Organizations – Alberta Venture – August 2013
The Story of BeauCoo
In 2012 I met the soon-to-be founders of BeauCoo (Victoria and Christian Maclean) through the Calgary startup scene. Victoria was a fashion enthusiast who shopped online, but suffered from the frustration that many women face when shopping for clothing: it was difficult to find clothing that fits. My experience, and the experience of many women I knew, were similar. This was the start of what would become BeauCoo.
At the time, most retailers used models for their marketing and online retail experiences. Traditional models come within a narrow range of ties and body types, making to difficult to know how clothing looks “IRL” and what size to buy. After all, a size 6 in one brand may fit the same in a size 8 or 10 in another.
We wondered: is there a way for women to shop for clothing on bodies that are similar to their own?
Illustrations for a body-positive infographic I created for BeauCoo.
User Research and Concept Validation
We started by conducting user interviews of women of different sizes and body types. We learned that this was not a unique problem. For petite women, it was often the challenge of clothing being too long in the arms or legs, or not being able to fill out blouses designed for a larger bust. For “average” women, there was often a specific body attribute, like broad shoulders or wide hips that our interview subjects struggled with. Most underserved of all was the plus-sized community who were greatly limited in brands and selection. Even with plus sized brands, we learned that “plus sized models” (who are often size 10 or 12) did not realistically represent the bodies of their customers.
We learned that many women dreaded shopping, and would stick to a specific brand or style that was familiar and “safe” for their body type. We also learned that women often relied on the feedback and opinions of trusted friends and family, sometimes through closed online networks like facebook groups, to validate what looked good on their bodies.
With a validated pain point, we formed the strategy to build a social shopping network based on body size and type. We chose the startup name “BeauCoo”, a reference to the french word “beaucoup” (many, or much). The concept received 1.2M in funding to build out the experience.
We started as a team of 6, my role was Creative Director: a hybrid branding, visual design, and UX/UI design role. My first task was to define the BeauCoo brand as we socialized our concept and created a landing page to build a mailing list for beta customers.
Marketing and Brand
The tenents of the BeauCoo brand were to be fun, energetic, and most of all approachable and safe. Our user research taught us that many of our customers dreaded shopping online, so we needed BeauCoo to be fun. Body perception and sizing is a sensitive issue, so our experiences needed to establish trust. We made the decision to scope the v1 BeauCoo experience as a female-only product, based on our user research insights on the need for a safe space for women only.
I established a style guide for the brand, including core UI components that would apply to our iOS and desktop launch platforms. We A/B tested a number of these decisions in our pre-launch beta marketing and landing page.
Email campaigns for signup, with conceptual designs for retail components.
Our launch app was on iOS, and Android as a fast follow. We determined that the core experience of BeauCoo would be a feed of images of other womens’ clothing “selfies”. We provided a “Fit” filter that filtered images of women with similar body types and an ability to follow users with similar style.
Our first-time onboarding experience was a key point of the experience. In order to achieve our value proposition of “Pics on your own size”, we needed customers to give us their sizing data. We tested various messaging and onboarding screens to educate users on how to take their body dimensions, and convey the value we would provide them in return.
Other design and messaging challenges included encouraging users to post full-length images at home and in fitting rooms (some of our retail partnership pitches included marketing placement within fitting rooms), abuse and moderation protection, and encouraging customer re-engagement. We ran tests on different value propositions for customers, seeking to understand which fit, social networking, and retail features to invest in.
In 2013 we expanded to desktop. We also started working on our long-term monetization plan which included a plugin for retail partners to view stream of images on their own online retail sites.
Desktop experience screenshots. My personal favourite UI element was the pop-up bunny (our mascot BunCoo) notification icon in the top nav.
BoPo and the Body-Positive Community
As we observed and interviewed our customers we learned that our product had resonated with the plus-size community. We embraced these findings and created an online blog and community around body positivity. We invented the #BoPo hashtag and started forming partnerships with body-positive influencers and bloggers.
I carried our visual identity and UI to our blog and social media presence. The blog allowed us to provide fresh content in-app to our users, tailored by relevancy to their own fit and style preferences.
The BeauCoo blog.