ShopLook Empowers Self-Expression Through Shoppable Mood Boards

Down the line, the startup will add platform features like AI-generated images and animated collages.

Written by Ashley Bowden
Published on Nov. 16, 2022
ShopLook Empowers Self-Expression Through Shoppable Mood Boards
Laya Adib, founder and CEO of ShopLook, poses for a photo
Laya Adib, founder and CEO of ShopLook. | Image: ShopLook / Built In

Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.

In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across eight major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. You can check out last quarter’s San Francisco round-up here.

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Every person is unique, from their hobbies and interests to their fashion sense and personality. While each of us may be vastly different, these traits can often help us connect with like-minded souls. People particularly start growing into their personalities and discovering how they want to express themselves during their teenage years. ShopLook wants to help its users embrace their originality, especially during this formative time.

At its inception, ShopLook intended to create an easier way for users to shop for outfits and lifestyle products and find inspiration. Laya Adib, the company’s founder and CEO, came up with the idea while working at Google on its shopping platform. 

“The original consensus was that if I built a platform that anybody can contribute to, anybody can create looks [on] without having to be an influencer … then maybe we’re building this really amazing data set that can help anybody get inspired,” Adib told Built In. “And regardless if you follow the mainstream or not, if you’re niche or not, you can find somebody that inspires you.”

Today, ShopLook is a creative outlet. On ShopLook’s mobile app, users have access to a creative canvas where they can use images to create aesthetic mood boards and collages that express how they feel or what they like. For instance, a user can create a mood board that conveys how a certain song emotionally affects them, or they could build a fashion collage of artistic outfits. 

Adib likens ShopLook’s solution to graphic design platform Canva. ShopLook includes tools like image background removal, item layering and a library of stickers to help users customize their creations. They can also add links to images on their boards to make those particular items shoppable. 

Once a user finishes their creation, the piece is saved to their profile and shared on ShopLook’s social feed. From here, others can exchange messages, comments and reactions to their content, and even host design challenges based on a specific topic.

Most of ShopLook’s users are Gen Z, and the platform hosts a growing library of aesthetic content for witchcore, dark academia, cottagecore and other trending niche fandoms among these younger consumers. The platform currently supports 1.2 million users who spend an average of about 20 minutes a day on the app. ShopLook’s library now includes more than 12 million designs.

“[Through] that expression of your aesthetic in these visual mood boards, you actually build authentic connections with those that you may never have met if you were limited to the current social media that you have access to,” Adib said. “Real friendships and real communities form and the reason people come back is not just to create, but to create and view others [work]. ... It becomes more of a community rather than just a creator tool.” 

You have to have heart behind what you do, especially if you’re building for users.”

By providing an inclusive space for creativity, ShopLook’s goal is to help people build confidence in who they are through visual communication, according to Adib. In continuing its mission, the company has a slew of new product features it plans to add soon.

ShopLook is building a tool that will enable text-to-image functionality through artificial intelligence, allowing users to generate images through AI and incorporate them into mood boards. The app will also launch video-based collaging where users can animate elements within their pieces, such as making a particular object continually rotate. Another development is offering video time-lapses of collage creation, enabling users to fuel engagement even outside of the ShopLook app.

From its start as a shopping solution to its current form as a vehicle for self-expression, ShopLook has grown into something Adib holds particularly close to her heart.

ShopLook’s app is a way for many to relieve pent-up creativity after the loss of solutions like Polyvore, a social commerce app that shut down in 2018. Adib hopes ShopLook will encourage more people to share their voices and meet others who can relate to them.

“You have to have heart behind what you do, especially if you’re building for users,” she said. “So I live every day with a very mindful understanding that every minute a user spends on our platform is one more minute on this earth that they’re choosing to get to me, and I take that with huge amount of [humility] and pride.”

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