Vancouver entrepreneur Maija Savics can trace her love of supporting local businesses back to when she was just six years old.
“I began to develop my love for local shopping on my sixth birthday when my mother took me to our neighbourhood second-hand store to pick out a special dress,” Savics told Daily Hive. “It was a birthday tradition we continued into my teens and it was how I developed a deep appreciation for the genuine and personal experience of shopping local.”
Savics is helping other shoppers enjoy the same experience with the launch of her new app this year: Shop This City (STC). The female-founded tech startup originally conceptualized the discovery tool in 2018 and allows users to find the best local brands and stores a city has to offer.
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STC is the first app that connects users to locally available inventory, making it easier for them to find their favourite brands, styles, and products in stores near them,” explained Savics. “Most importantly, it makes it easier for you to find what you love while supporting a local business.
“My previous professional background was not in tech, but I saw a gap in communication between browsing online and shopping locally and was determined to build a platform to help bridge that. I met my now CTO about five years ago and knew he was the perfect person to help bring the STC dream into reality.
Savics’s extensive resume includes working for one of Canada’s largest fashion brands, freelancing for independent designers, and assisting one of Vancouver’s premier personal stylists. She used the knowledge gained from those positions to learn that the future of shopping would be a hybrid experience spanning both digital to brick-and-mortar.
The Vancouver-born and raised tech founder also shared that STC helps brings local brands and stores to the top of city search, something that search engines can’t or won’t do.
“Google searches often yield results from the world’s largest eCommerce sites, but very rarely point online shoppers in the direction of the small local business that is selling exactly what they’re looking for,” said Savics. “On STC, users can search for their favourite brands, styles, and products and locate them in stores nearby.
“Our goal is to connect shoppers with local stores and brands in their communities that they didn’t even know existed and to make it easier for consumers to shop locally. We hope STC can help initiate genuine and lasting connections between small businesses and their community.
STC currently has over 50 local partners on the app and over 50 more on the waitlist. The discovery tool focuses on women’s fashion, beauty, and lifestyle at the moment, with plans to branch into children, men, and homeware in 2023.
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Some of STC’s partners include established Vancouver fashion boutiques Boboli, Misch and Rebecca Bree, up-and-coming local brands like A Bronze Age, and vintage and pre-loved retailers like Collective Will, Wild Honey Goods, and Turnabout Luxury Resale.
“A lot of these small brands and retailers have a hard time competing in the increasingly saturated and expensive digital marketing landscape,” shared Savics. “Changing social media algorithms also means they cannot always reach their followers. Being an STC retail partner means they can connect with highly engaged local shoppers, driving traffic to their online site or into their brick-and-mortar stores.”
The app currently works with stores across BC and will be expanding across Canada in the coming months.
“Getting to know the store and brand owners has been the best part of building STC,” Savics said. I have been so inspired by these entrepreneurs and feel so honoured to be a part of their journey. The last few months have also been quite eye-opening for me, both as a female founder and as a woman in tech.
“Less than 2% of all invested capital goes to female founders, and women hold only 25 percent of all tech-related jobs. We have some pretty lofty goals at STC, but the most important thing I hope we do is to lift others as we rise. And of course, watching our team at STC grow and create something that brings the community together has been such a joy.”
For more information about Shop The City, visit shopthis.city.
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