Madeline Veenstra doesn’t consider herself the most fashionable person, but she likes staying on top of trends — which is why she launched Wikifashion in November 2009.It’s just like what it sounds — a site meant to be a Wikipedia for all things fashion. Readers can post photos, articles, and discuss designers and trends.
We recently sat down with Veenstra, who’s visiting the U.S. from Brisbane, Australia (where WikiFashion is based), about why her site is different from all the other fashion blogs out there (Sartorialist, anyone?), and how she’s going about finding investors.
She originally launched the site to go along with a fashion forum she frequented, and it’s since grown to include 4,500 contributors.
“Anyone can contribute,” she says. “You can be at the top of the fashion industry and contribute, or you can just be in high school and like fashion and you can contribute as well.”
And that’s what makes her site different: she’s relinquished editorial control. “[Contributors] feel like they have some ownership over it,” she says. “I started it, but I want it to be for the entire fashion industry and community.”
Most readers and contributors are female and between 15 and 24 years old, and half live in the U.S. The majority attend fashion school or are fashion bloggers — so in that sense, she doesn’t sacrifice quality, because they all know what they’re talking about.
Veenstra self-funded the site with her co-founder Coen Hyde, who handles its programming. To get publicity, they sought out industry bloggers, and have been featured in magazines like Elle. But most of their marketing has been word-of-mouth.
As the site has grown, Veenstra has had to teach herself how to be a PR rep, a networker and an amatuer web coder all at once. One of the biggest challenges, she said, was finding the time for it all. She took a big chance on the project when she left her job as an economist for the Australian treasury to work on Wikifashion full-time.
Now she and Hyde are actively seeking investors, with an eye toward moving to the U.S. Without talking specifics about funding goals, Veenstra estimates that in order to secure visas, they’d need about $1 million. “It’s kind of a simple idea, but the potential of having a central resource of fashion that you could leverage off is huge,” she says.
After New York, Veenstra and Hyde left for San Francisco, where they exhibited at the TechCruch Disrupt Conference.
NOW WATCH: Ideas videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.