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

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

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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.”

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

BALTIMORE (AP) — Teams of engineers worked Saturday on the intricate process of cutting and lifting the first section of twisted steel from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, which crumpled into the Patapsco River this week after a massive cargo ship crashed into one of its supports.

Sparks could be seen flying from a section of bent and crumpled steel in the afternoon, and video released by officials in the evening showed demolition crews using a cutting torch to slice through the thick beams. The joint incident command said in a statement that the work was being done on the top of the north side of the collapsed structure.

Crews were carefully measuring and cutting the steel from the broken bridge before attaching straps so it can be lifted onto a barge and floated away, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said.

Seven floating cranes — including a massive one capable of lifting 1,000 tons — 10 tugboats, nine barges, eight salvage vessels and five Coast Guard boats were on site in the water southeast of Baltimore.

Each movement affects what happens next and ultimately how long it will take to remove all the debris and reopen the ship channel and the blocked Port of Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.

“I cannot stress enough how important today and the first movement of this bridge and of the wreckage is. This is going to be a remarkably complicated process,” Moore said.

Undeterred by the chilly morning weather, longtime Baltimore resident Randy Lichtenberg and others took cellphone photos or just quietly looked at the broken pieces of the bridge, which including its steel trusses weigh as much as 4,000 tons.

“I wouldn’t want to be in that water. It’s got to be cold. It’s a tough job,” Lichtenberg said from a spot on the river called Sparrows Point.

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The shock of waking up Tuesday morning to video of what he called an iconic part of the Baltimore skyline falling into the water has given way to sadness.

“It never hits you that quickly. It’s just unbelievable,” Lichtenberg said.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

One of the first goals for crews on the water is to get a smaller auxiliary ship channel open so tugboats and other small barges can move freely. Crews also want to stabilize the site so divers can resume searching for four missing workers who are presumed dead.

Two other workers were rescued from the water in the hours following the bridge collapse, and the bodies of two more were recovered from a pickup truck that fell and was submerged in the river. They had been filling potholes on the bridge and while police were able to stop vehicle traffic after the ship called in a mayday, they could not get to the construction workers, who were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The crew of the cargo ship Dali, which is managed by Synergy Marine Group, remained on board with the debris from the bridge around it, and were safe and were being interviewed. They are keeping the ship running as they will be needed to get it out of the channel once more debris has been removed.

The vessel is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd. and was chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk.

The collision and collapse appeared to be an accident that came after the ship lost power. Federal and state investigators are still trying to determine why.

Assuaging concern about possible pollution from the crash, Adam Ortiz, the Environmental Protection Agency’s mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, said there was no indication in the water of active releases from the ship or materials hazardous to human health.

REBUILDING

Officials are also trying to figure out how to handle the economic impact of a closed port and the severing of a major highway link. The bridge was completed in 1977 and carried Interstate 695 around southeast Baltimore.

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Maryland transportation officials are planning to rebuild the bridge, promising to consider innovative designs or building materials to hopefully shorten a project that could take years.

President Joe Biden’s administration has approved $60 million in immediate aid and promised the federal government will pay the full cost to rebuild.

Ship traffic at the Port of Baltimore remains suspended, but the Maryland Port Administration said trucks were still being processed at marine terminals.

The loss of a road that carried 30,000 vehicles a day and the port disruption will affect not only thousands of dockworkers and commuters, but also U.S. consumers, who are likely to feel the impact of shipping delays. The port handles more cars and more farm equipment than any other U.S. facility.

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Collins reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Washington, D.C.; Kristin M. Hall in Nashville, Tennessee; Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington, contributed.

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

DALLAS (AP) — The Texas attorney general has opened an investigation into a key Boeing supplier that is already facing scrutiny from federal regulators over quality of parts that it provides to the aircraft maker.

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said it began looking into Spirit AeroSystems because of “apparent manufacturing defects” in parts that “have led to numerous concerning or dangerous incidents.”

In a statement Friday, a Spirit spokesman said, “While we do not comment on investigations, Spirit is wholly focused on providing the highest quality products to all our customers, to include the Boeing Company.”

Paxton asked the Wichita, Kansas-based supplier to turn over documents produced since the start of 2022 about communication with investors and Boeing about flaws in parts and corrective steps the company took.

The request goes into detail in seeking internal discussions around Spirit’s efforts to create a diverse workforce “and whether those commitments are unlawful or are compromising the company’s manufacturing processes.” Paxton asked for a breakdown of Spirit’s workforce by race, sexual orientation and other factors, and whether the makeup has changed over time.

Since a Spirit-made door-plug panel blew off an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max in January, some conservatives have tried to link aviation safety to diversity at manufacturers.

Paxton is a conservative Republican who this week agreed to pay $271,000 in restitution to victims and take 15 hours of training in legal ethics to settle felony charges of securities fraud. Paxton did not admit wrongdoing in the 9-year-old case.

The Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation into Boeing Spirit after the Alaska Airlines incident. An FAA audit of manufacturing procedures in Spirit’s factory gave the company failing grades in seven of 13 areas.

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Boeing is in talks to buy back Spirit, which it spun off nearly 20 years ago, as part of a plan to tighten oversight of manufacturing in its supply chain.

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Boeing plane found to have missing panel after flight from California to southern Oregon

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Boeing plane found to have missing panel after flight from California to southern Oregon

By CLAIRE RUSH and LISA BAUMANN

 

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A post-flight inspection revealed a missing panel on an older Boeing 737-800 that had just arrived at its destination in southern Oregon on Friday after flying from San Francisco, officials said, the latest in a series of recent incidents involving aircraft manufactured by the company.

United Flight 433 left San Francisco at 10:20 a.m. and landed at Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in Medford shortly before noon, according to FlightAware. The airport’s director, Amber Judd, said the plane landed safely without incident and the external panel was discovered missing during a post-flight inspection. No injuries were reported.

The airport paused operations to check the runway and airfield for debris, Judd said, and none was found.

Judd said she believed the United ground crew or pilots doing a routine inspection before the next flight were the ones who noticed the missing panel.

A United Airlines spokesperson said via email that the flight was carrying 139 passengers and six crew members, and no emergency was declared because there was no indication of the damage during the flight.

 

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The Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center is pictured in Medford, Ore., on Jan. 4, 2024. The first lawsuit filed Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, brought amid reports that a nurse at the southern Oregon hospital replaced intravenous fentanyl drips with tap water seeks up to $11.5 million on behalf of the estate of a 65-year-old man who died. (Janet Eastman/The Oregonian/The Oregonian via AP)

 

“After the aircraft was parked at the gate, it was discovered to be missing an external panel,” the United spokesperson said. “We’ll conduct a thorough examination of the plane and perform all the needed repairs before it returns to service. We’ll also conduct an investigation to better understand how this damage occurred.”

The Federal Aviation Administration also said it would investigate.

The missing panel was on the underside of the aircraft where the wing meets the body and just next to the landing gear, United said.

The plane made its first flight in April 1998 and was delivered to Continental Airlines in December of that year, according to the FAA. United Airlines has operated it since Nov. 30, 2011. It is a 737-824, part of the 737-800 series that was a precursor to the Max.

Boeing said, also via email, that it would defer comment to United about the carrier’s fleet and operations.

In January a panel that plugged a space left for an extra emergency door blew off a Boeing Max 9 jet in midair just minutes after an Alaska Airlines flight took off from Portland, leaving a gaping hole and forcing pilots to make an emergency landing. There were no serious injuries.

The door plug was eventually found in the backyard of a high school physics teacher in southwest Portland, along with other debris from the flight scattered nearby. The Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation.

On March 6, fumes detected in the cabin of a Boeing 737-800 Alaska Airlines flight destined for Phoenix caused pilots to head back to the Portland airport.

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The Port of Portland said passengers and crew noticed the fumes and the flight landed safely. Seven people including passengers and crew requested medical evaluations, but no one was hospitalized, officials said.

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Baumann reported from Bellingham, Washington.

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