With fashion technology, designers are connecting with consumers in more direct, innovative ways, and Coy Griffin wants more people of color at the forefront of that discovery.
The Bronx-born Afro-Latina didn’t take the conventional path to fashion technology. She landed in the industry after gaining a slew of on-the-job experience at corporate internships and gigs at IBM and Johnson & Johnson.
“When I was in college, I interned for Johnson & Johnson as a regular data analyst punching numbers all day,” she said. “At that point, I wanted to pivot into the fashion industry using my knowledge of data analytics, so I just started Googling fashion analyst jobs, and that’s when I discovered trend forecasting.”
Even after discovering forecasting and working at a variety of fashion-tech startups, the Clarkson University graduate launched Your Own Creativity to truly marry her passion for fashion and technological innovations. The YOC is a content platform that helps make fashion tech easy to understand by providing access to information. The brand not only identifies the latest tech trends but also educates designers on how to apply the science to grow their business.
Since finding her creative niche, the successful entrepreneur has gone on to become a TEDx Talk speaker and newly minted author.
AfroTech spoke to Griffin about her road to fashion technology, how innovation is moving the industry forward, and what young designers can do to elevate their brands.
AfroTech: When did you first realize you wanted a career in fashion technology?
Coy Griffin: I got my first fashion internship at this startup called Wear Away. It’s no longer operating, but that startup was very influential in fashion technology at the time. Traditionally, stylists had to go to fashion warehouses, but the company changed the game by taking pictures of the inventory at prominent fashion warehouses and placing them online. Stylists were able to then shop online as opposed to going to the fashion warehouse themselves. So upon graduating, I worked at another fashion tech startup but, unfortunately, it was more of like a data crunch industry. That’s when I decided to create Your Own Creativity (YOC). Through my brand, I teach designers how to integrate the latest technological innovations—3D printing, augmented reality, innovated fabrics, etc.—with their products.
AT: More designers must be taking advantage of this type of tech during the pandemic.
CG: Yes, definitely. A lot of my fashion friends are asking me how they can amplify their brands with technology. Luckily, I have a ton of resources. I did a TED Talk at Clarkson University in January, then I turned that talk into an e-book, “Leveraging Tech: A Fashionista’s Guide To Fashion Technology.” The guide shares which technologies are trending and how to implement them.
AT: Which technologies are currently trending and pushing the industry forward?
CG: Augmented reality filters. Remember those dog ear filters on Instagram stories? As a fashion brand, if you sell a pair of sunglasses, you should create a filter for your sunglasses so that people can try them on virtually on Instagram and share their experience with their users. AR filters are super easy to leverage, and you can find a developer on Fiverr for about $100. Or, you can create one yourself for free using Facebook’s Spark AR Studio. Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty was actually the first brand I saw using AR.
Also, we’re going to see a wave of 3D fashion shows. Recently, I partnered with the Fashion Scholar for an Instagram Live class on “How to Create a 3D Digital Fashion Show.” We discussed topics, such as different software to use, different types of 3D fashion shows, and career opportunities in digital fashion.
AT: When a brand hires you, what’s your creative consulting process?
CG: First I identify their pain points and key KPIs, then based on their budget, I recommend the ideal fashion technologies that they can use. I also help them find the people that can implement the technology that can help amplify their brand and connect with their consumers.
AT: Currently, are you focused on building Your Own Creativity, or are you working with brands?
CG: Right now, I’m focused on YOC. I’ll work again with a few fashion brands come September, once I have case studies and people can actually see the results of my work.
AT: What are the benefits for customers when brands use this type of technology?
CG: On average, most consumers purchase two sizes of an item online because they aren’t sure if it’s going to fit. Allowing customers to sample or try on products virtually helps decrease brands’ footprint because they’re not shipping as much product.
Sustainability is huge right now. Fashion brands have to create a prototype of every piece of their collection before manufacturing it and pushing it to the public. During this phase is where like 80 to 90 percent of the sustainability problems come from because there can be just a lot of waste. If the designer doesn’t like a sleeve type or leg type, they toss it. And right now, too many customers are looking for brands to be more sustainable. I recommend that fashion brands leverage customers at the beginning of the sampling process. If you’re debating a wide leg pant instead of a straight leg pant, ask your customers on social media. They’ll be more inclined to share your brand if they’re bought into the sustainability aspect of it.
AT: What other advice do you have for young designers who are looking to build their brand and incorporate this kind of technology?
CG: For young designers who have the time but don’t have a lot of capital, I recommend 3D printing. 3D printers cost about $300 or more, but with a 3D pen, you can achieve the same results but on a smaller scale. So, for example, there is the 3Doodler. Let’s say you’re drawing a flower, right? If you have the 3D pen, as you’re drawing, you’ll be creating a 3D object.
There are also a lot of tutorials for kids if you want to encourage their interest in fashion technology.
AT: What kind of advice do you have for young men or women like yourself who are looking to venture into the intersection of fashion and tech professionally?
CG: Definitely do internships. I researched top fashion brands that I wanted to work for and I also searched the top fashion technology that’s out there. When I finally landed an internship interview, I would always offer tangible ways on how to elevate their brand. That helped me land a bunch of internships because it shows that you’ve done your research on the company and you know what you’re talking about.