As a part of the Morning Lazziness series about strong women leaders who attained success with their incredible ideas, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rebecca Mabbett.
“If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s much easier to apologize than it is to get permission”- Grace Hopper
Rebecca Mabbett, the founder of ‘R Reflections,’ an app that provides its users virtual clothes fitting rooms, allowing them to try on clothing implicitly, making it easier for them to pick items before purchase. This 20-year old tech entrepreneur came up with this unique yet innovative idea when her online purchased clothes didn’t suit her.
She designed this app precisely to determine whether an item of clothing suits its buyer or not; furthermore, R Reflections aims to diminish the environmental effect of the fashion industry by reducing returns and CO2 emissions while enhancing the experience of shopping and lessening the disappointment in customers.
Many thanks for doing this for us; please let our users know about yourself and your business, “R Reflections”?
Hey, I’m Rebecca Mabbett, a 20-year-old fashion entrepreneur who created and developed a fashion mobile app called R Reflections.
R Reflections is a virtual clothes fitting room app, allowing the users to be the models and try on clothing they like, to determine whether the clothing suits them, their body shape and size, all before purchasing.
R Reflections users can either upload a full-body photo or a face photo of themselves to make their virtual clothes fitting room experience more personalised. It is placed on a body figure with a face photo that the user can then change the skin tone, body shape, and size to match their own.
There are two ways in which users can upload clothing they like into the app, either via saving images of clothes onto their device photo library or by taking a photo on their device camera.
Within the app, there is a pre-loaded clothing section where users can search for clothes via the search page in the app. I have partnered with clothing brands and have downloaded their clothes into R Reflections for users to try on within the app and buy straight from the clothing brands’ website.
How is your journey as a successful entrepreneur, and what inspires you to open an “R Reflections”?
When I first came up with the idea of R Reflections, I was on a family holiday to our family apartment in Spain, which I had been going to at least once a year ever since I was born. Funnily enough, I was actually laid on a sunbed around the pool with my dad, discussing the fact I’d ordered lots of clothing for the holiday only to realise that half of the clothing had to be returned due to it not suiting my body shape, size and skin tone.
I think the way I came up with the idea was really special to me, as the apartment holds lots of childhood and happy memories, and it kick-started my own business, R Reflections.
What do you think is virtual dressing be the future of online shopping?
Yes, I definitely do believe that virtual fitting rooms will be the future for retailers, as physical store fitting rooms are so popular and are in demand from customers. With more customers shopping online for clothes, it means an increase in the amount of clothing returns due to customers not being given the opportunity to try clothes on before purchasing them from online clothing retailers.
I also think, due to the global pandemic, online shopping will definitely continue to rise and become more popular than high street stores, as it is a lot easier, it’s less hassle, and some people may even find it more hygienic rather than having to go to a physical store with lots of other shoppers.
Can you please share with us some responses and reactions of women when they tried this virtual shopping?
These are just some of the reviews I’ve received by not just women, men as well, who have used the app:
- “I love this app!! Such a good idea for a virtual fitting room. I love the fact you can bring clothes in from different clothing stores into the app to try on. I love the new update where you can adjust the body more to different sizes helps a lot! I prefer online shopping to go into the shop. So this app is perfect for helping me find online clothes! I am always sending back my clothes, so this will help me. I will recommend it to everyone!”
- “I gave this app a try after seeing it advertised on social media. It is AMAZING. I love the fact you can test out so many different outfits on yourself to see if they’d actually look good before placing a huge order and having to spend half of it back! What a genius idea!”
- “Loved the App, saved me ordering and waiting for clothes to arrive only to find they are not me.”
- “Wow! This app is absolutely incredible! What an amazing idea, congratulations on this app. It will be sure to thrive.”
- “What an amazing app! It’s such a well thought out idea, which I love as it will save me time by seeing if the outfits will fit me or actually look nice and will be good for the planet as hopefully, I won’t have to send so much back if I use this app.”
- “This app is absolutely genius! Well done with creating this! It’s what we all need in these times! Will save so many returns etc., knowing it will suit one bought!”
With R Reflections what, problems you plan to solve for anyone who just loves to shop online?
I designed R Reflections to help:
- Reduce the amount of clothing returns
- Returned transport CO2 emissions
- Increase customers personalisation
- Increase personal satisfaction
- The easy online shopping experience
- Decrease customer disappointment when they receive clothing brought online
What are your plans for the future? How do you plan to grow this company?
My 5-year plan for R Reflections is to grow it into a globally recognised app, with people downloading it from all over the world and hopefully reaching 1 million downloads. I also have plans to set up my own clothing brand within the next few years too, which I think would fit in so well with R Reflections, as I can use the two companies to promote each other.
What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur, and why?
The top 3 skills I would say are needed to be a successful entrepreneur, from my own personal experience, would be hard work, adaptability, and persistence.
I would say hard work is probably the most important one, because whatever effort and time you put into your business, you will get out, therefore if you really want to do a successful business, you’re only going to get there if you put in the hardworking effort.
Adaptability is crucial too because you need to be able to keep up with market changes and demands and adapt to your customer’s needs and wants. Suppose your business isn’t going to adapt to new changes or demands. In that case, your customers will soon find similar companies that are adapting to these new changes and start using their products or services rather than yours, meaning you are losing customers.
Persistence is key as well, as it shows that if you come across difficult times, problems or situations, it’s how you deal with these issues that will make you stronger so that if these issues occur again, you will have the persistence to carry on and not let them stop you achieving your successes.
There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Still, people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?
When you come up with a good innovative idea, I think everyone’s natural first thought is, “I will never be able to do that,” however, I think if you have these ideas and you believe in yourself, you just need to go for it. I believe that if you don’t take risks in life, you’ll find it hard to progress into your dream job, career or business. Life is all about taking risks in order to achieve your dreams.
When I first came up with the whole virtual fitting room idea, I didn’t have very many negative feelings, as I knew ever since I was a young girl I wanted to own my own business and become my own boss. Therefore I knew this was my chance to achieve my dreams.
I think it also helped that I was 18 at the time I first came up with the idea; I was young and free, and I didn’t know what career I was going to go into after college. Therefore I followed my dreams and never looked back.
What were the top three mistakes you made starting your business, and what did you learn from them?
I wouldn’t say they were mistakes; I would say there are 2 things I would probably have done differently.
Creating a build-up to the launch, looking back, I should have created and shared snippets of the app in the days leading up to the R Reflections launch to build the excitement of customers and get people talking about the new app.
I researched how to market an app in more detail. Although I did carry out a lot of research in marketing, I probably should have researched other app companies to see how they marketed their app in order to gain tips and tricks before I launched R Reflections.
What have been your biggest challenges, and how did you overcome them?
Since launching R Reflections on the 1st September 2020, I have overcome challenges such as not personally recognising my achievements, confidence.
I think as I’m very ambitious and driven, this sometimes can overpower my achievements, as I’m always looking for ways to become more successful, and instead of taking a step back and recognising my achievements, I am always aiming to achieve my next goal.
Since launching R Reflections, I have found that my confidence has grown massively by speaking to new customers, press/news reporters, and podcasters. If I didn’t have R Reflections, I know for a fact that my confidence wouldn’t have grown half as much as it has. I just knew that if I wanted to make R Reflections a successful app, then speaking to new people wasn’t something that I could avoid and that I had to get used to it.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
R Reflections aims to help reduce the effect the fashion industry has on the environment by helping to reduce returns and CO2 emissions, enhance customer’s clothes shopping experience and decrease customer disappointment when they receive their clothes.
When creating R Reflections, I wanted to highlight the benefits not just to the customers and retailers but how it positively benefits the environment.
Returned clothing within the fashion industry has a massive impact environment. Research shows that online returned clothing is set to reach 5.6 billion pounds by 2023. R Reflections aims to reduce this figure by encouraging customers to use the app when shopping for clothes to have an idea of what the clothes will look like on themselves before purchasing.
What helps you stay driven and motivated to keep going in your business?
I created a mood/vision board on my iPad, which keeps me motivated as it has several images showing where I want to get to within the next 5 years. Whenever I’m having a bad day or week, I look at this board, and it reminds me why I’m doing all of this and what I want to achieve.
I think as I’ve always dreamed of having my own business, it’s given me the motivation and drive to make R Reflections and my future businesses successful, as it’s something I’ve always wanted to achieve.
I’ve always been very ambitious; I’m always coming up with new ideas, which in the future, I hope to develop into businesses to increase my success, build a business empire and a name for myself.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made was being naive, as I thought it would be a lot easier than it actually is. I never knew how much work went into running and owning your business; I just thought it would be easy to gain customers, downloads etc. Whereas it was completely different, and I think that is what makes me laugh because looking back at it now, it’s embarrassing how naive I actually was.
What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living? How do you personally overcome fear?
Personally, if that were me, I would ask myself, “why?”, if you’ve got a hobby or a pastime that you love, why are you fighting yourself? Surely that’s a sign that you should be exploring this and make it into your job?
You’re already halfway there; if you love something and have a passion for something you already do, so you might as well finish it off and make it into your full-time job.
I think the main thing that stops a lot of people from starting their own business is the thoughts in your head. It’s all the “what if’s” and self-doubt that stops most people from making these big business changes.
In order to overcome these thoughts, I would suggest surrounding yourself with positive people, who believe in you, and can support you; these people are key.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Social media – Before starting R Reflections, I never knew how much time and effort needed to be spent on social media. I have found the more interactive my posts and stories are, the more views and app downloads I receive a day. I started engaging in others’ fashion posts and stories. I soon made connections, which helped boost my app’s social media pages and promote my app to new people.
- Creating content for social media – I knew creating content for social media wasn’t going to be easy; however, I never imagined it would take as long as it does. One social media post takes me roughly 30 minutes to create, and I post at least 5 times per week. Again, the social media stories take around 5 minutes to create, and I like to post at least 4 stories per day. This time soon then adds up.
- Hashtags – I wish someone had told me how important the use of hashtags on social media is. Back in late 2020, I only started using hashtags on my social media posts and stories after watching a business webinar, which talked about the benefits of using hashtags to increase posts and stories’ engagement and reach. Since I have been using them, they have attracted other fashion accounts to my page.
- How to make connections – I never knew how important it was to make connections to promote your business and attract new customers and suppliers. It wasn’t until I was watching a business webinar, and they were saying that making connections is a key way to increase sales and brand awareness. Since that business webinar, I am using LinkedIn, which I find super easy to use and a great way to make new connections for myself and my business, R-Reflections.
- Finding CEO email addresses – I wish someone had told me to email CEOs of companies rather than the customer service email addresses. I was on a call with a company a few weeks ago, and they gave me one very useful tip, always email CEOs rather than customer services because emails sent to the CEOs get passed down to other employees who are more likely to reply to your email. Since I launched R Reflections, I have been trying to get in contact with retailers, and I have always emailed customer services, press, or product email addresses; however, since I received this advice, I have been getting replies back after emailing CEOs.
Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself, “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so, how did you overcome it?
I’ve had weeks rather than one moment where I have just exhausted myself, working 65 hour weeks, where I just found myself so tired, drained, and feeling unwell. As I work from home, I find it very hard to switch off from my business, meaning whenever I’m at home, I’m always working on R Reflections.
As I am still quite young and didn’t have experience in burnouts, I never knew how to deal with these feelings. Therefore I never addressed them or knew how to deal with them. I am slowly learning to detach myself from R Reflections work and remember when I’m at home, I’m meant to have time off and shouldn’t be working whenever I’m home.
In addition to not being able to switch off, when I go out to see my friends, I feel guilty for going out and not working. However, I am again slowly learning that I shouldn’t feel guilty for having a social life, and everyone needs one.
What valuable advice would you give new entrepreneurs starting out?
I always say this to everyone who asks me, as long as you believe in your idea, believe in yourself, you’re hardworking and driven, never give up, then you are able to do anything and achieve your dreams!
I can honestly say I can’t explain how happy I am that I took the risk in developing my business, as it’s helped me grow in so many different ways I never thought it would. It’s been one of the best things that have happened to me, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to create my business at such a young age. I think my age does speak volumes. Hopefully, it proves to you that age doesn’t define what you are capable of; if you’ve got an idea or business you believe in, go for it and never look back!
I definitely know I would have regretted not following my idea and started my business.
I wouldn’t change my life or business for anything; I just can’t wait for the future and to see what’s ahead.
At last, what’s a productivity tip you swear by?
The most helpful productivity tip I swear by is planning for tomorrow. I always like to plan or create a list of tasks for the next day on my phone, so I know what I need to complete that day. It just helps me to be more organized and not forget things, as I’ve made a note of them.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.