Puctto Founders: Taking On Digital Fashion
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
The role of business founder is definitely a fulfilling one – when your vision and hard work start paying off, I can imagine a massive sense of achievement and something I’d surely love to experience one day.
I’ve interviewed the brilliant and incredibly kind founders of Puctto, whom I met while on exchange in Australia, to tell us about their digital fashion journey, the effect of COVID-19 and how they help each other achieve success in the world of start-ups, together.
Crystal McGregor (left) and Belinda Scott (right).
What inspired you to start Puctto?
B: I was a big online shopper and wanted to see what I looked like in the clothes, rather than the models.
“At the time, I couldn’t believe that no one else was working on the ‘virtual try on’ idea, so thought I’d give it a go!
Before that, I was an Art Director for a fashion magazine. Initially I created the Snappy Dresser app (it had 25k downloads in a short amount of time), then after feedback created a desktop version and called it Puctto.
I had a few retailers install it and at the same time, I noticed a few other companies working on their VCR. The feedback, traction and competition gave me the encouragement to keep going.
I found being a solo founder tough going though, as I craved having someone to bounce ideas off. At the time I was still doing graphic design - one of my clients was Crystal’s consulting company. We had been working together for 14 years, however had never met in person. I happened to mention to her that I needed help… and now that’s history :)
C: On the day we met in real life, there was so much energy in the room. Belinda asked could I help on her fashion tech start-up.
“I had no idea about fashion but had managed a few tech projects. I love working on bringing creative projects to life, so agreed to have a look. Now, here I am as CEO and CoFounder.”
First Puctto logo
Who came up with the name & what does it mean?
B: My then 11-year-old son and I were sitting in the garden, trying to come up with a name. Together we came up with ‘Pop Up Clothes To Try On’ – PUCTTO. We googled to see it wasn’t a swear word and to make sure we could get the domain. We wanted something different, something that could be trademarked, so PUCTTO it was!
How did you meet and when did you know that this was a good partnership?
C: We first spoke in 2001, when Belinda designed the logo for Crystal’s consulting company. We would go on to work on multiple projects together, often well into the night. It was all over the phone back then and we didn’t realise that we both were raising little people at the same time.
B: Crystal and I work on the same wavelength. We never argue, we simply keep communicating until we reach a point where we are both comfortable with the decision.
Puctto meetings, July 2019
One quality you believe the other one has that you don’t?
C: I always call Belinda the ‘creative genius’ (she hates that). Belinda brings to the world ideas well beyond the time.
“My job is to help Belinda articulate her ideas and turn them into reality. Belinda is also the people-person, she has a unique way of converting people into believers."
B: I admire how Crystal absolutely loves to help people and I love how she challenges herself to step out of her comfort zone.
“Crystal can somehow interpret crazy ideas / visions and bring them into a process.”
I really don’t know how she does it sometimes as I can’t even speak what I’m thinking! Hah! I can see what I want in my head then she asks the right questions to get it out!
What is your typical day?
C: I like to start my day with setting intent on what I’d like my day to feel like. This usually takes the form of a mindfulness activity, drawing or journaling. Then I step into my to-do list. I’m responsible for overseeing the company, so it ranges from financial reporting, creating marketing strategy and investor updates, to overseeing the tech development.
One of my key characteristics is curiosity, so I’m usually chasing self-learning opportunities. I read, listen to podcasts, jump on tech and fashion webinars and keep up to date on Linkedin.
B: I am an absolute workaholic and have issues with "not procrastinating.” However, I’ve come to realise that I don’t need to work 24/7 to get the work done. Sometimes it's important to step away from the computer - create, scribble and meditate on ideas.
After taking my teenage kids to school, and of course a coffee, I jump onto my to do list or straight into meetings. I have also started making sure that I exercise in small bursts throughout the day - as a break and to clear the mind.
“I also love catching up with other founders and creatives - hearing their stories and getting inspired. There are so many great tech ideas out there, I’m really excited about the future of fashion/retail tech.”
Crystal at Brisbane Southbank
What challenges and opportunities did you have as a Fashion-tech startup?
C: Having a fashion-tech start-up is an unimaginably interesting journey. Every day consists of challenges and new opportunities.
The biggest challenge for me was convincing myself that I loved pitching. While my first few pitches were awkward, it got to the stage of being ready anywhere, anytime. We were so grateful to become two of the few female founders to raise, with Brisbane Angels investing in September this year.
“Last month we pitched to Startup Bootcamp Fashion (in Milan), with partners from Prada; fashion stylists in New York and L.A.; a mega marketplace in South East Asia; and a major shopping centre chain in Australia."
Crystal at Logan Angels, 2019
"The biggest challenge for me is sticking to your idea and your
'why'. It’s hard not to get caught up on what everyone else is doing.”
But I think staying ‘true to self’ and your concept is hard but so important. I’m very excited to work with other founders and somehow work together to make fashion/retail tech an amazing experience for shoppers and retailers alike.
Belinda's Art exhibition of her paintings
How has COVID-19 affected the growth of Puctto?
C: Personally, I have worked from home for 23 years, so not a lot changed in that instance.
B: Completely agree with Crystal on that. And I have also found that Covid has opened more doors for us – with online meetings.
When Australia went into lockdown, we were approached by Queensland Brides to support the traditional bridal industry with providing a digital solution for brides to access retailers.
“We have also had access to so many global fashion events and conferences
(Fashion Innovation, Vogue Business) that we would have never been able to attend. COVID-19 had been a reset for the whole fashion industry, with brands more open to technology and personalised customer service.”
Capital raising was more difficult - we pitched to investors in the days before the pandemic was announced, then lockdown was in place and markets crashed.
Puctto Wedding Runway website.
What kind of results do you think Puctto provides for the fashion world?
We love that we can help smaller retailers to stand out from the crowd. It’s tough for small businesses to compete with larger marketing teams and budgets.
Do you believe the market is ready for digital fashion and what is the next step for Puctto?
C: For me, fashion has always been at the leading edge of creativity and the move to digital fashion is the next level.
“I love the sustainable model of playing creatively with fashion, without the cost to the planet of physical production.”
B: As a shopper, I’m happy to try on digital fashion especially as it looks so real (Puctto being a great example).
Belinda trying on sunglasses via Puctto
What do you look for when hiring someone new or working with interns?
C: It’s important to me that we hire people whose intent aligns with our company. I’m a huge advocate for mentoring and providing opportunities to access experience and networks. When working with interns, we ensure that there is a fair value exchange, for example offering the specific area of interest and access to our network.
“Communication is key – we work on open and honest communication, even if it feels awkward.”
B: I agree with everything Crystal says... I also love seeing people make the most of an opportunity and showing initiative. As start-up founders, we are genuinely very busy, so I love seeing people thinking outside the box – I truly appreciate them, their passion and work ethic.
Now back to me – Nes.
A sentence that really stuck with me from this interview was what Belinda said about the biggest challenge being sticking up for your idea and YOUR why? Agreed!
Thank you, Belinda and Crystal, for such honesty and sharing your interesting story with us!
That’s all folks.