Founder Friday with Sarah Neill: creating an online fashion community for women

Shaun H. Ruff


For many women, one of the most exhausting aspects of the online shopping experience remains sizing. Despite efforts to double-check sizing charts, it can be hard to find the right fit. What if the pants are too long? What if the top is too large? What if the t-shirt doesn’t sit right?

Fashion tech app Mys Tyler was born to help women find clothes they love while also reducing the environmental impact of constant returns.

“I don’t enjoy shopping or reading fashion magazines,” admitted founder Sarah Neill. “I don’t enjoy the process of dressing up, but of course, I have to get ready every day, and I feel better when I like what I wear.  Living in New York at the time where everyone around me was so fashionable, while I was wearing the same jeans with a t-shirt every day, I knew I needed to up my game.”

She reached out to a fashion-forward friend to take her shopping but quickly learned the stylish outfits that suited her friend’s physique didn’t necessarily fit her.

And so, back in 2014, the idea for an app to browse through fashion by users of similar sizes was sparked.

To date, Mys Tyler has raised $2 million from a mix of local and global investors, including institutional investors Mirvac Ventures, Antler, and notable angels, including Brian Hartzer (former CEO of Westpac.) It has over 200,000 body profiles on the app and more than 1,200 creators.

Of course, Mys Tyler wasn’t Sarah’s first foray into app development.

“My first app was called ‘Weather Than’, which shows you today’s and yesterday’s temperature. It tells you if it’s warmer or cooler to make the weather relative, and it would do it in a fun way, like ‘it’s colder than an investment banker’s divorce’ or ‘hotter than your mum’s new boyfriend’,” she said.

“Then I built another app and another app, and I started doing all these side-hustles along with my work in the world of telecommunications.”

By 2020, Sarah had acquired a wealth of experience in the marketing departments of companies like Boost Mobile, Ultra Mobile, and Mint Mobile.

She elaborated, “It shouldn’t matter what you are marketing; your job is to understand your consumers and their problems. To understand what they’re trying to achieve. So on the agency side, it’s more creative and about showing them how you’re solving their problem. But on the client side, you can suggest changes to the product to improve it. In that way, I found myself starting to innovate within businesses.”

Source: supplied

Launching Mys Tyler

Sarah returned to Sydney just before the pandemic in 2020, and joined accelerator program Antler Global to begin working full-time on Mys Tyler.

She came to the table with two clear trends she’d noticed in the market.

“When I was at Mint Mobile, the last company I was at, I got to observe how powerful affiliate marketing was,” Sarah said. “In the old days, you would see these crappy banner ads to sell products. But now, affiliate marketing is a great low-risk, scalable option.”

So when users find clothes they like and follow the online links to purchase them through the app, Mys Tyler is able to take a small commission.

She also wanted to incorporate the rise of micro-influencers into the app.

“We’re seeing this shifting pattern from macro-influencers to micro-influencers on social media. Users gravitate to them because they seem more authentic and engaging and would actually respond to your messages.”

By recruiting them as creators, Mys Tyler could match users’ body data with them for fashion inspiration so that women can see similar-sized women in various outfits.

Not only did this approach showcase different styles for users to try out, but it also addressed high return rates for fashion retailers that cost the industry a fortune and cause environmental harm.

“It felt like a huge inefficiency,” Sarah noted. “You can’t solve this with size because height, body shape, and other factors matter. So by matching your profile with other women of similar measurements, Mys Tyler lets you see how the clothes look with a better guarantee that they’ll fit you.”

READ MORE: Eight inspiring women entrepreneurs share their secret to being successful in 2022

sarah neill
Photo by: Gregory Beltre

Inspiring and supporting women

“In the first email received once we launched, a woman said to me, ‘Thank you, Mys Tyler. I felt fat and ugly almost my entire life, and now, at the age of 76, I feel human’,” Sarah recalled. “It was such a lovely message – and I was pleasantly surprised that a 76-year-old managed to find our app!

“It’s incredible to think that these women have not been represented in fashion for so long. They don’t feel like they fit in when they’re quite a normal size. In Australia, the average woman is a size 14 to size 16.

“Then there’s also age, helping women who are maybe 45 or 50 years old. They’re looking for fashion inspiration but also want to be age-appropriate. After all, you’re not going to wear the same clothes in your 20’s as you would in your 40’s,” Sarah noted.

“We’ve found that age is a massive one. These are women with purchasing power who want to spend but don’t know what to spend their money on.”

Now planning to expand into hair and beauty, Mys Tyler’s body data collection is proving invaluable to brands.

Sarah recalled an instance when an American bra company was able to target their leftover inventory to specific users with that cup size through a super clearance or flash sale.

“It was a great way to reach people without diluting their brand because not everyone’s seeing those ads,” she added.

Best advice received

According to Sarah, the best advice she received came from one of the investors in her early career business who told her: ‘you need to shoot and then ready, aim.’

“It meant you need to just do something, then learn where you stand, then tinker and start building,” she explained. “You can have plans A, B, C, but it’s only when you start doing those steps that you realise there’s actually like 17 other steps involved in successfully completing one thing!

“I think women are very hard on ourselves, and that’s where we struggle to get started. We judge ourselves based on what we’ve done in the past. That’s where we place our value rather than seeing the potential.”

Successfully launching Mys Tyler to build a strong community of women remains one of Sarah’s proudest moments.

“Women have developed friendships through this network we’ve built; they’ve felt seen and represented. Sometimes when I’m having a bad day, I go back to the app to see these interactions to remember what we’ve accomplished.”

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READ MORE: Founder Friday with Jacinta Timmins: the secrets of launching a sustainable apparel brand


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