Social media are pervading every aspect of our existence, to a point where we no longer pay attention to the line which separates the real world – where our tangible interactions take place – and its virtual counterpart, with its endless possibilities created by the power and speed of new technologies. The fashion industry has an ambiguous and therefore turbulent relationship with social media, and more widely with any new technological breakthrough. On one hand, a resisting establishment suggests the predominance of a reactionary attitude, slowing down the unavoidable process of change within the industry; while on the other, emerging designers and their obsession with social media show an intense desire for innovation. While it is unsure which attitude will prevail in the future, it is clear that social technologies will continue to infiltrate the fashion industry, regardless of the propensity towards change of the actors involved.
What is certain is that both Melissa Fernandez and Carolina Molossi – founders of Bookalook – are embracing the innovations brought by social media with great enthusiasm, together with Marta Jakubowska who has recently joined the team. My meeting with the girls was set to take place on one of the most beautiful spots in Paris, at the Place Dauphine, where the Ile Saint Louis starts to shrink and divides the Seine in two halfs, and people are lingering to escape the summer heath. The square is surrounded by two walls of silent buildings, while an irregular pattern of threes, hit by the sunlight, project its shadow, creating a grey motif blending in with the rusted dust covering the ground. It was with a certain disappointment that we left this peaceful spot, as none of the bars or the restaurants, already overcrowded, could host us. Instead, we headed to the Rive Gauche, with its streets booming with life. After almost ten minutes together, I still found it hard to guess the girls’ origins; however, their passion for traveling is already obvious, as they explain that they are constantly on the move between the European fashion capitals. Once we sat down, Carolina, Melissa and Marta were eager to talk about their startup.
The idea for Bookalook was born from the will to reunite PR’s and media professionals on the same platform, by emulating what is already happening in the social media “We want it to be democratic and give all of our clients the same opportunities, regardless of their size; what we care about is the quality of their work” explains Carolina. The concept behind Bookalook is very simple: the platform provides the essential tools needed by both media professionals and PR’s both in brands or agencies: messages, attachments and calendars are in one single place. Therefore, since every client has specific needs, the fees are individually tailored by the team. The relationship with the customer is carefully cultivated and every suggestion or request is always welcome.
The team makes sure that the virtual environment in which the users operate is carefully curated in order to offer a user experience which is aesthetically captivating and consistent. Any material uploaded is organized by collections which can subsequently be divided by albums, allowing the users to create different content for the same collection, with a variety of sharing options and availability is never public.
This is a very important aspect for Carolina, who defines herself as someone who was always strongly driven by imagery and aesthetic; a fact which Melissa is very well aware of: “Carolina always harassed me with things which needed to be changed on our website, like the font or the layout of a certain page.” They both laugh at it, while admitting that this kind of episode are part of their daily routine.
Finally, the platform offers the possibility to be browsed by moods, while items can be easily found with hashtags. This last feature makes Bookalook particularly attractive for Millennials, who instantly feel comfortable in a setting which closely resembles Instagram. It is an essential strategic move, as Melissa notes, “we have reached the point where Millennials are representing, for the first time, the major workforce in the industry, taking over the positions previously held by baby boomers”.
Bookalook is still a small company, which sees every associate involved in almost all the area of the business, regardless of its background. This is perceived as a strength: here every associate’s point of view is valuable and an ongoing discussion is promoted in order to mutually inform the decisional process of the team. This makes bookalook.com particularly democratic. Melissa is very proud of the company values: “the key words are trust and transparency, but also openness: you always have to speak your mind!” and wishes that the in workplaces of the future “you will finally feel comfortable and make the best out of it.” “We want it to mean something to be on bookalook.com” adds Carolina and it feels like that the company aim is to become the new reference in the industry.
While they share a common interest in fashion, the founders of Bookalook come from totally different backgrounds. In fact, Carolina has a degree in Philosophy and later graduated from an MA in Fashion Communication at Central Saint Martins. On the other hand, Melissa studied business and had the opportunity to work for Pop Magazine and Novembre, an experience which allowed her to become aware of the dynamics and issues related to the management of photoshoots and showrooms.
When asked about her main role in the company, Melissa brings up an interesting concept: “I am the person in charge of the business and Carolina is mainly focused on sales and curation. However, we work as binomials and therefore we are always open to each other suggestions. We want to build our business around this idea.” In this sense, every new encounter represents an exciting opportunity to widen views and exchange expertise. This original modus operandi enables for the professional growth of the individuals within the company, as well as consolidating personal relationships.
Carolina admits that every single day since the launch of their platform “has been an emotional rollercoaster, with up and downs, tears but also satisfaction.” Carolina, Melissa and Marta are extremely happy to share this ride together since, what they value the most, is their strong friendship: “it is hard to believe that, such different people, who didn’t know each other, could form, through the common experience of Bookalook, such a perfect match!”
Images Markus Wernitznig, Camilla Damkjaer, Altea, Tom Guy and Emanuel Ungaro, all available for request on Bookalook.