The first prototype of CONSTRVCT was built over a weekend at the Gilt Fashion Hackathon, which my team won.
I built the second prototype for a Kickstarter campaign, which was successfully funded at $11,000. As well as validating consumer interest in the idea, the funding covered much trial and error on clothing production.
The first release of CONSTRVCT.COM had most of the current features, as well as custom sizing. Yes we were crazy to do a custom fit sheath dress. But it did work. Even if the fit was not 100% perfect, there were happy customers who were pleased to be able to get a unique dress in their size at all. I later removed custom sizing because we did not have the operations to support it, but the brief time in which we tried this ambitious idea was informative on customer needs.
In further iterations I gradually improved the UI, re-organizing the main design creation page for clarity and adding things like a separate products list page to meet frequent customer questions. From reading many customer emails as well as conducting a small user survey, I found that there were two main user groups present on the site.
- Consumers– These were women who saw the site as a customization brand. They purchased clothing either for themselves or for gifts. These were our best customers, and they made repeat purchases to try the different styles. There were 2 groups within this group: younger tech savvy women who often created designs using images from science or nerd culture, and older women who often where photographers or artists as a hobby or as a second career.
- Professionals– Many users were people who wanted to use the platform as a way to create and sell their own designs. (While many were not likely professional designers, the term is chosen because their intent was for business.) Although we never advertised that we were a marketplace, we received thousands of registered users who assumed that a marketplace existed and that they could sell their designs.
Although there is some overlap between the two user groups, the large difference in primary goals meant that likely they would have been better served on two separate sites. If the product progressed further, I would have concentrated on building out the consumer-focused destination first. Because even though there was much demand for a design creation marketplace, you need consumers who want to buy designs in order for a marketplace to succeed.
There were many more ideas for Constrvct, but the biggest hindrance was manufacturing. Realizing that my skills reside on the digital side, I am currently exploring licensing the software platform to other manufacturers. Sign-ups on the site are disabled, but at last count there were about 12,000 users and over 35,000 designs.
A possible next iteration of Constrvct would focus on consumer-friendly features like being able to choose variations in neckline and length, while curating artwork for the prints.