26 Nov Nicole Mossman wants to take your online shopping experience to the next level
There isn’t anything more disappointing than when you order something online and when it finally arrives, it’s not at all what you thought you were purchasing.
Online shopping is convenient, but it can leave a lot of room for error. Not knowing exactly what you’ve bought until it arrives on your doorstep is a real concern shared by many.
In an effort to improve and reimagine the online shopping experience (for both consumers and retailers) local entrepreneur Nicole Mossman created EverThread, an e-commerce visualization solution and image management platform for brands and retailers.
EverThread provides shoppers with a dynamic, interactive online platform to visualize products from every angle. For retailers, the technology ultimately boosts conversion rates, reduces returns and increases overall consumer confidence by ensuring that people get what they ordered.
With a diverse customer base that includes both early, disruptive retail brands in the apparel and home decor space and large industry staples that have been around for years, Mossman and her team at EverThread are truly changing the way we shop online.
The birth of EverThread
Mossman grew up in the world of entrepreneurship and design. Her parents owned a custom home building business and from a young age, she developed a keen interest in fashion, specifically in apparel and home decor. Her love for the retail industry eventually led to a fashion degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles and a master’s degree in innovation and entrepreneurship from UT Dallas in 2015. She developed and pitched the idea for EverThread through the school’s Startup Launch track. The original concept was based on the interest she saw in the market for customizable and personalized products.
“With EverThread’s technology, we’re actually able to let you not only see what a product is going to look like in all of its variations, but to see it in an environmental format too,” Mossman said. “You can visualize what a shirt is going to look like with a pair of pants or a jacket. You can see what a sofa is going to look like with decorative pillows, a rug, coffee table and everything else in the room. You can look through all the options for those products to get a much more contextual sense of them.”
Mossman’s initial funding was a $25,000 grant from UTD which stipulated that EverThread launch by her graduation date or within 6 months after. With her personal contributions, total initial cash put into the company was around $60k. Like with many other founders, finding investment continues to be a challenge.
EverThread is the first venture of Mossman’s where she has sought investment and throughout the entire process, she’s learned how to best tell the company’s story for Texas investors who haven’t always expressed an interest in the world of retail.
“We have had to look outside of the state a lot to find investors that understand what we’re doing, why it’s important and how a business like ours could scale and the potential revenue that we could generate,” Mossman said. “That has been the number one challenge for us and I think on some level its unique to how closely adjacent we are to retail.”
She also encountered some interesting challenges being a female founder in the technology space. The environment has improved over the past years, but Mossman still often finds herself as one of the only women in a room full of men.
“You really have to have your game turned on,” she states. “You have to make sure that you’re being recognized as having a clear vision for the organization and having a viable product and being taken seriously. You just have to up your game”.
Mossman doesn’t come from a traditional technology background which has also played a role in her entrepreneurial journey. “I obviously have a lot of connections within the retail industry, but with this business I had to really dig in and learn about technology,” she said. “There’s a difference in how you sell technology and how you sell a product, there are some differences and nuances around that. In a lot of ways that has helped us because I look at things through a different lens than say someone who is solely from the technology side. That created its own learning curve along the way.”
Mossman formed EverThread in 2014, with the goal of increasing margins through customization and personalization. Her plan was to take advantage of existing technologies in the textile space that would make this easier and more cost effective. The beta e-commerce site rolled out halfway through 2015, allowing customers to customize and create products dynamically and on the fly.
Mossman took her initial concept directly to large retailers and Fortune 500 companies within her network of contacts. At first she thought EverThread would be a wholesale business, but ultimately pivoted when she realized that many of the retailers were more interested in the ability to show all of the different variations of the products they produced. What started as customization and personalization grew into automating image production and merchandising.
“What that means is that we’re able to make it possible for a retailer to show all of these variations of a product,” said Mossman. “The product could be displayed inside a room scene. Or it could be on a model. We are showing all these variations of a product without having to have more than one sample of it.”
According to Mossman, companies can utilize the EverThread platform over and over again throughout the seasons to showcase all of their latest product options without ever needing to produce a sample. This helps them bring their products to market in a faster and more efficient and cost effective way. It also creates a more dynamic user experience on the front end of their e-commerce sites.
“They (retailers) are getting some great benefits on the cost-saving side and then they’re having this incredible user experience that drives up conversion rates and average order values,” Mossman said. “Ultimately we’re hoping we’ll see decreased returns as well and then, of course, faster speed to market for their products.
As part of her initial growth strategy, Mossman partnered with several well known accelerators known for working with early stage startups. Before launching the beta site, EverThread went through retail tech accelerator RevTech Ventures.
“It’s been great,” said Mossman. “We partnered with them and they’ve been an ongoing investor of ours. We have a great relationship. One of our key mentors came from RevTech and we interact with them a lot. We’re actually officing with them right now.”
Earlier this year, the company also went through the New York Fashion Tech Lab program where they gained both valuable experience and a few, new customers. Most recently, EverThread has partnered with Austin-based Capital Factory which launched its official Dallas hub this past summer.
The future of EverThread
Mossman is on a mission to position EverThread as the go-to resource for visualization solutions inside the retail industry. She hopes to do this by building out a solution that continues to enhance user experiences for shoppers and helps to grow revenues for retailers. Current solutions include:
- EverThread Curate – Shop multiple complimentary products at the same time all within a branded virtual environment.
- EverThread Bespoke – Customize products within a dynamic, true to life experience.
- EverThread Silhouettes – View high quality product images in unlimited colors, textures and materials.
“We are yielding incredible results that can’t be matched with other technologies,” Mossman states. “We are building a technology that makes people’s jobs easier. A lot of what retailers do is pretty labor intensive. We’re working towards being able to help with that.”
The company’s first customer went live with EverThread Images about six weeks ago and another will be going live in December followed by a couple of more brands in Q1 of next year.
What are they looking for in their customers? A strong online presence. They want retailers and brands with repeatable products (i.e. they have the same or similar body styles season over season) which are commonly found in menswear, sports apparel, home furnishings, and home decor.
As Mossman continues to climb the ladder of success, she has advice for all of the entrepreneurs just beginning their journey.
“You really do need to know and understand that you need to be tenacious,” she states. “More importantly, it’s about going out and validating your idea early and discovering what people care about as early as possible. That’s one of the most critical pieces. Even if it changes over time, it’s really important.”