If we’re being totally honest here, we just don’t get the whole Pokemon thing. Maybe it’s because the first time there was a Pokemon craze, we were too busy shopping at Abercrombie, getting our acrylic nails filled and listening to Genie in a Bottle on repeat to notice it. Or, maybe t’s because this time around there are just a lot of other games and apps out there competing for our “oh, shiny!” attention span. Like Covet Fashion.
If you haven’t heard of it, prepare to be addicted. It’s essentially an app that allows you to virtually shop real designer lines, and style outfits that other users get to give feedback and vote on. Impressively, the fashion world is totally behind it, too. Covet Fashion has partnered with all sorts of high-end brands and influencers, in part because of the tenacity and innovative thinking of Blair Ethington, the game’s SVP and GM. Here, we’re talking to Ethington about her journey taking the game from a team of 1, to a company of more than 100.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT COVET FASHION? WHAT IS IT AND HOW DID IT COME TO BE?
Covet Fashion is an interactive mobile platform that allows consumers to virtually shop, style and win clothing and accessories from over 175 brands including Halston Heritage, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Rebecca Minkoff, Rachel Zoe, and more. Our users compete by styling looks through daily “Fashion Challenges” where they virtually shop for clothing, style a complete head-to-toe look — like brunching with friends or hitting a red carpet movie premiere — submit their look for voting against other users, and win prizes. We have also worked with some really amazing celebrities, such as Gabrielle Union, Emma Roberts and Nina Dobrev, all of whom hosted fashion challenges for our users.
Before launching Covet Fashion, our parent company Crowdstar made games for Facebook. We built our first fashion focused mobile game called Top Girl in 2011 that was made specifically for women. It launched as the #1 grossing app in all of iTunes within a week and stayed for six weeks, which was truly amazing and exciting for us!
After Top Girl, we created a couple of other games that were variations of the game, and found none were outperforming its predecessor. It became clear then that we had to redefine gaming for women, and create something really compelling. That’s when the idea of Covet Fashion came about. We noticed there was a huge gap in how people interact with fashion. People either have a very passive experience, like looking at magazines or ads, for example, or fully owning the clothes, which requires money. We decided to create an interactive platform to fill that gap.
Covet Fashion allows users to interact with fashion without having to buy actual clothes. It goes beyond brand awareness and creates a deeper level of recognition, connection, and even a sense of ownership of the brands featured.
WHEN DID YOU JOIN COVET? WHAT WAS THE PLATFORM LIKE WHEN YOU JOINED?
I joined the team at Crowdstar (Covet’s parent company) in 2011, and began working on what Covet Fashion is today not long after, so I’ve been at the company since the very beginning. It’s been super exciting for me to see Covet Fashion grow from its infancy to the platform it is today that inspires women and allows them to escape their daily routines to experience virtual world of beautiful clothing and community.
WHAT PIQUED YOUR INTEREST ABOUT THE PLATFORM?
What I love most about Covet Fashion is how it impacts the real lives of its’ users. For so many women across the country, it’s more than just entertainment. It truly changes the way women get dressed in the morning and, in turn, gives them confidence in their daily lives, and also brings them into a community of amazing women.
COVET NOW HAS MORE THAN 100 EMPLOYEES AND 600K+ DAILY USERS. WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE TO THIS QUICK GROWTH?
I think Covet Fashion has been successful because the platform provides an experience that people want to talk about and share with their friends. They’re able to style avatars with dresses, shoes, bags, earrings and more from real fashion brands, and interact with other women within the community about their styles. Communities are so powerful, and I think the one we’ve created within Covet is really special.
WHAT BRANDS DO YOU WORK WITH?
Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Zimmerman, and Rachel Zoe to name a few.
ARE BRANDS EAGER TO WORK WITH COVET?
Yes! Brands understand that to acquire new customers you have to do more than publish print ads. Covet is the perfect place for them to reach a wide audience and have them interact with the brand on a different platform other than social media.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FEATURE OF THE APP?
I really like the ‘Who Wore It Best’ type challenges. These challenges require that everyone uses the same item (ie, a dress) but accessorize it differently. It’s amazing to see how many different ways one item can be styled.
WHAT ARE THE GOALS FOR THE PLATFORM? DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW FEATURES OR BIG COLLABORATIONS COMING UP?
We value the feedback our community provides, as they are the heartbeat of Covet Fashion. There are always iterating and improving the platform, but we don’t want to clutter the experience for our loyal users.
That said, we have a big initiative coming up later this year that I’m really passionate about and, in talking to some of our users, I know they are too! We can’t wait to share it with you, but I’m afraid I must keep it quiet for now!
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE CELEBRITY PARTNERS FOR COVET?
We’ve worked with some smart, confident, and fashionable celebrities including Gabrielle Union, Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, and Emma Roberts. The partnership often stems from celebrities who want to connect with their fans in a unique and thoughtful way, providing a glimpse into their personal lives. For example, Vanessa Hudgens hosted a fashion challenge around festival style because it was a true representation of something she would want a great outfit for.
IN ADDITION TO YOUR CAREER, YOU’RE ALSO A MOM OF TWO. THIS IS A CLICHE QUESTION, BUT HOW DO YOU MANAGE BOTH ROLES?
I surround myself with amazing people — a wonderful husband, and an incredibly smart team. I’m also proud to say that I’m not afraid to ask for help. Throughout my career and personal life, I’ve realized that leaning on another person isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather an opportunity for me to live a happy and more complete life and for other people to grow.
WHAT’S YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR OTHER MOMS WHO MIGHT BE STRUGGLING TO FIND A BALANCE BETWEEN WORK AND HOME?
My biggest piece of advice would be to make sure you’re passionate about your work. If you’re not passionate about what you do at least 40 hours a week (and more in some cases!), being at work will be a huge struggle. I think it’s also important for new moms to know that by working, you are being a fabulous role model for your children — teaching your children important life lessons, to do what you’re passionate about and to challenge yourself to do better. This goes for stay at home mom’s as well — they are also teaching their children the same life lessons. It’s important to be happy, and your kids will respond to that more than anything.
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
As I just said above, love what you do. Never close doors – always be open and welcoming to new opportunities, people and personalities. In addition, surround yourself with people who respect and challenge you every day. You spend more time at work and with colleagues than you do at home or with friends and family, so make it worth your while.