What if you could mold together your favorite things about social media and shopping online into one platform that facilitates both commerce and inspiration? Well, that's the idea behind the month-old (and majorly hyped) digital social market place, The Cools.
The site takes the best elements of platforms that we are already familiar with: whether it be discovering something unique on Etsy, selling an item on Ebay, re-pinning an inspirational photo on Pinterest, re-blogging a post on Tumblr, or showcasing your own taste by writing a personal style post on a blog. In a nutshell, it's personal curation for the design-concious consumer, and a place to hang out and sell or shop items from like-minded people.
When you first join The Cools, you are asked a series of questions which helps the website gage where your tastes and inspirations lie. From there, you are given a host of people to follow based off of your answers (which you can then remove or add), giving you a tailored experience. Precious Alike, the social media and creative initiatives manager of The Cools, explained, “The little questionnaire that you take to start off shows us what is valuable to you, and that's how it recommends sellers you should follow based on why they think they would be your style.” On the other side, you can hide people, comments, and conversations, much like Facebook Timeline.
If you see an item you like, hover your mouse over the photo and two options will appear — you can either “cool” the item or buy it. If you cool it, the photo is added to your personal feed (quite like re-blogging on a Tumblr feed), and if you do want to buy it, you will be purchasing the item directly from the seller. As of now, most of the sellers are independent (and of an “Etsy-type” feel), but eventually the site plans to have larger companies participate.
By cool-ing what you like, you are essentially the moderator, the curator, the shopper — not the website. Alike noted, “We do moderate, for example, the first thing you see when you open the shop. But for the most part people can list whatever they want. I think the name of The Cools gets misconstrued. Oliver van Themsche, our founder, when he conceptualized it, thought of it as everybody has their cool. It's whatever cool to you, not that these are the cool things… I can see whatever products I want and I can cool them, which means I've decided they're cool and I value them, and now my network or community sees that. So you are curating your experience essentially.” She continued, “At the bare bones we want to make a market place of only good stuff.”
But what is it that makes The Cools so, well, cool? “Maybe it's a little glamour, maybe it's the fact we have a simple lay out.” “Let's face it,” says Alike, “Ebay is not sexy. You have to dig through Ebay, you don't feel inspired to go there every day.”
What does this all mean for the independent fashion blogger? Alike also points out that their platform is especially user friendly for bloggers, “The Cools allows bloggers to monetize their experience — in addition to low selling fees, we offer our featured bloggers a percentage of our revenue from any transaction made by a user brought to The Cools by their blog.” She explains, “The blog partnership is essentially symbiotic; the goal is for it to provide a win-win situation where we offer bloggers exposure to a rapidly growing community and a cut of our revenue, and they promote The Cools by using the platform and enriching our community.”
For the small seller, it works as an easy way to showcase their goods, as Alike points out, “It costs them nothing, and it's cheaper than opening an actual boutique.” And if a blogger does sell something as a result of their blog, “We use unique links and a special tracking system in order to calculate who is buying from The Cools, specific items bought, and if their sign up was facilitated by a specific blog.”
After two years of conceptualizing, The Cools launched this past June with a jamboree (which could be described as more of a maze of attractions from music to books), transforming their digital space into a physical one in SoHo, New York. If you missed it, they are planning another jamboree this upcoming New York Fashion Week (naturally), but with bigger surprises and, according to Alike, more bloggers.