VERNEZ: A PLATFORM CALLING OUT ASPIRING FASHION EDITORS
Formally launched in a special event held in London in September 2015, Vernez is a “fashion social network,” a platform that, besides providing ample style inspiration through outfit ideas, it allows its users to create their very own magazine-style editorials – and all content created is shoppable. Founded by Moyang Yang, Vernez was born out of her passion and efforts to support rising bloggers and aspiring fashion editors, providing them a platform to showcase their talents and abilities. In fact, she has granted the community certain privileges, as they are included in events and workshops organized exclusively by Vernez, and programs helping them learn new skills, network with brands, and promote their work. We sat down with Moyang, who was recently selected as one of the 16 People to Watch by the Evening Standard, to discuss launching Vernez, promoting the app and building a community around it, and her ultimate goal for her project.
Tell us a few words about you and your background, and how you came to become interested in fashion.
Before I started Vernez, I was a psychologist and worked for one of the largest talent assessment companies in the UK for many years. However, I’ve always considered fashion being my deepest passion. As a psychologist, I’m extremely interested in people and the way they think. And I believe that fashion is one of the most basic forms of self-expression, and I want to understand it more and help people in that way.
What prompted your decision to start Vernez?
I’ve always had an addiction with fashion magazines ever since I was a teenage girl. But the more magazines I read, the more I felt the urge and need to find content that is relevant to me, because of my lack of time as well as the overloading of information available. I thought about creating my own online magazine, but a website was too complicated to set up and promote, and none of the social media was able to give me an opportunity to present my voice fully. Out of the frustration, I decided to create a platform that tackle all of these issues, a platform that makes it so easy to express your fashion opinions beautifully, and connects audience to the relevant content. That’s how Vernez was born!
You recently celebrated Vernez launch in an exclusive event. Tell us few words on the event. How important is the physical presence to promote a new venture today?
The launch event was amazing! We had about 150 super enthusiastic fashionistas there at a painfully stylish venue in east London. It was great for press and publicity (we had over 50 blog coverage in the first week after the launch!), and it felt even better seeing people gathered and talking about our product, for three hours non-stop! I also gave an opening speech about how I came up with the idea and my vision of the future. As an outspoken feminist, I felt that I truly made a difference for the first time by sharing the ups and downs of my entrepreneurial experience. And I know that this moment will continue encouraging me to be more active in female leadership empowerment.
In what sense does Vernez provide a chance for its users to create their own fashion magazine?
I believe the most important part of a magazine is a clear goal on what you would like to express. And in order to express it, your need to have the freedom to customize every bit of the content, from pictures and text to layout and fonts. None of the current sites allow you to do that! On our app, you can do this by a few simple drag and drop, use any pictures you like, and arrange layout on your finger tips!
Who are the bloggers who sign up to Vernez?
UK Afrolista, Hello Henrietta, Big Fashion Talk, the Peppy May… You name it!
What kind of designers do you look for to feature in the app?
As a general principle, we support any emerging brand as much as we can. This is the best part for being a personalize-able platform, where we help people find the kind of fashion that they like. Therefore, we, as a platform, actually have the luxury of including designers/brands of many different styles.
Why is supporting aspiring fashion influencers important to you? What is the most important thing you can offer them today?
Fashion is an industry that breathes on diversity and innovation. But unfortunately it is also easily influenced by the opinions of popular figures or powerful media channels. So many great styles or content from those who are new in the industry, never would have a fair chance to be seen or heard before being buried. Supporting and promoting the work of these talent is my dream but also my responsibility. Our team constantly looks out for new talent, and when we found one, we promote them throughout our app and social channels. Not only it is free, sometimes we invest our own budget in promoting their work, either it be a personal blog post or Vernez editorial.
Why is education the key to push a fashion business forward? How do you feel about education vs practical experience?
I think education and practical experience are both equally important. Just like in any other industries, if you want to succeed in whatever you do, you need the education to set the basics, and hands-on experience to put technicality into reality. But I also want to emphasize that education doesn’t only refer to what you learn in school or university. It should refer to all sorts of systematic learning, either taught or self-reflected. The point of education is to have the opportunity of summarizing your own or other people’s experiences, and shed lights on how to do things better in the future. In this sense, education and practical experience support each other, not conflicted.
What is the hardest thing when trying to build a community within an app?
The most important thing about building a community is to have a soul – something to represent what you believe in, and what guides your actions. In the early stage when you have few members in the community, it is very challenging to put the right message through, and people can be quite skeptical about you. But I’m a strong believer in being persistent and just continue doing what you believe as the right thing. Over time people will see what you are about, and if there’s real traction, the community will grow.
What is your ultimate goal for Vernez?
As a business, I definitely hope that Vernez will become the first stop of our users fashion need. So, whether they want inspiration, or to check out trend or to buy something new, they will think of Vernez. But ultimately what will make this happen is for us to become an inspiration power house, both visually and psychologically. Visually our user-generated content need to be strikingly beautiful; and psychologically we need to empower our users to embrace their own style and voice up. This, is the real challenge, and I can’t wait to see what we will achieve out of it!
Images © Vernez