Tiller’s founder, Kathleen Sheppard, sat down with Raquel Phillips to kick off our first ever Female Founders/Creators spotlight. Started by Raquel and Nicole Phillips, Qatch is a monthly subscription service that provides fashion recommendations, personalized styling and interactive shopping right from your phone. These sisters are recreating what it means to have a personal shopper and innovating the shopping experience for all.
Tiller: Tell us about yourself!
Raquel: I grew up in Orange County, NY the youngest of 5 girls. My family means the world to me and I had such a fun time growing up in such a large (and sometimes dysfunctional) family. I decided to go to business school because frankly I had no idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and a business education is very versatile – you can essentially do anything with a business degree. So I attended Babson College, where I got both my bachelor and masters degrees and decided to pursue a career in accounting because I was quite a math nerd growing up and have always loved numbers. After about two years in public accounting, I quit the corporate world to start Qatch alongside my sister Nicole.
T: What sparked your interest in tech & fashion and what was the inspiration that led you to start Qatch?
R: The inspiration behind starting Qatch was wanting to solve a problem myself and my sister experienced. We were both living and working in NYC the summer of 2018 and realized that despite our love for shopping and need for clothes, we couldn’t stand how frustrating online shopping was. It was overwhelming, took too much time, and just wasn’t fun anymore! After countless times of raiding each other’s closets when we could have been purchasing items, we knew something had to change. So we put our heads together and began brainstorming a more convenient way to shop online.
T: Tell us about Qatch - what are you hoping to do with this platform?
R: Qatch is a personal shopping experience via text. It’s very simple – a user signs up by taking a short style quiz, and then they are texted weekly personalized product recommendations right to their phone from our numerous brand partners. Our goals for Qatch are to make online shopping fun and convenient, and to provide a personalized shopping experience that is affordable and accessible – it costs just $5/month, and we offer brand partners that carry extended sizing.
T: What was the most difficult part of starting your own business, particularly being a pair of young women in tech? What has been the most interesting/rewarding?
R: The most difficult part of starting a business has been battling imposter syndrome, which I’m sure you’ve heard of—it’s a commonly used phrase particularly among female founders where they doubt their accomplishments and feel like they aren’t good enough to be where they are. I faced this when starting Qatch, because I’m young, early on in my professional career, a woman starting a fashion tech company. Many people have criticized me for each of those things.
But the best part about starting Qatch has been overcoming all of that. At one point, I stopped questioning myself and took a look at everything I had accomplished. Starting something from the ground up and seeing the progress I’ve made has been incredibly rewarding and I’m excited to keep going!
T: How have your previous experiences shaped Qatch and what makes Qatch so unique?
R: From a purely business standpoint, having a background in accounting is a plus and has been a huge help in terms of budgeting and financial modeling. I also held several leadership positions in college which taught me a lot about leading and managing others—I founded a student organization at Babson and was the president of my sorority for a year, and I gained great skills from each of those experiences.
I think the most unique thing about Qatch is our approach to building the business. We are an incredibly scrappy team – we launched our first MVP (minimum viable product) without spending virtually any money and have remained lean and agile to this day. From the day we launched our MVP, we’ve been in data collection mode—collecting feedback from our users, from our brand partners, and collecting data on what trends and styles our users are liking and disliking. This has allowed us to build and improve the service very meaningfully. Everything we do is based on data and feedback, so we know we’re making smart decisions every step of the way. On the contrary, many startups raise a ton of money on an idea, build something, and then launch it, collecting data after the fact.
T: What advice would you give other young women who aspire to launch a brand/company, particularly in tech and/or fashion?
R: Action trumps all—the hardest part is taking the leap and getting started, so my advice would be to stop thinking and start doing! You are never going to feel totally ready and that is okay. My favorite saying is “To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan and not quite enough time.”
Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks – as long as YOU are happy with your path and decisions, that’s all that matters.
T: What does the future hold for Qatch? What are your goals and what's coming next?
R: Our goal is for Qatch to remain the most convenient and fun way for our users to shop. I like to keep this goal high level, because we don’t know exactly what this will look like in the future. Currently, we’re providing a fun and convenient experience via text message, but text message could easily become saturated one day like email has. We want to be innovative, agile, and adapt to whatever medium or platform consumers are loving at the moment – who knows what that might be in the future!