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“Find people who also enjoy exploring different ideas and brainstorming.” With Tyler Gallagher & Jessie Zeng

I tend to agree that we have so much left to learn, and we shouldn’t make people fearful of exploring new technologies. That being said, we do need to constantly evaluate ethical considerations and develop frameworks for testing. I think this comes from involving as many people as possible in the research process, and making […]

I tend to agree that we have so much left to learn, and we shouldn’t make people fearful of exploring new technologies. That being said, we do need to constantly evaluate ethical considerations and develop frameworks for testing. I think this comes from involving as many people as possible in the research process, and making sure people from various backgrounds and viewpoints are represented.

As part of my series about the women leading the Artificial Intelligence industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessie Zeng, Founder of Choosy. Jessie created the very first fashion brand whose styles are designed using both machine learning and community validation. Through Artificial Intelligence, Choosy expertly defines top trends and harnesses community influence and feedback to deliver affordable styles that people actually want to wear. Utilizing Choosy’s modern technology, they are able to design and produce a full line of clothing in just 3 weeks, meaning their customers are the first to style the newest fashion trends. Jessie previously worked in electronic trading for Citigroup, focusing on Foreign Exchange and precious metals before deciding to break away from the industry and use her background in tech and passion for style to start Choosy.


Thank you so much for doing this with us, Jessie! Can you share with us the ‘backstory” of how you decided to pursue this career path?

After leaving Citi in 2015, I traveled to China to consult textile manufacturing companies on how e-commerce and fast fashion was impacting the industry. During this time, I kept seeing headlines on how fashion companies were burning billions of dollars of inventory, a year. I knew that there must be a smarter way to prevent this waste using data.

Traditional fashion companies have caused a myriad of societal issues. Many companies produce at such a reckless and fast pace, that they end up over buying certain items, which leads them to have a tremendous amount of inventory buildup. With my experience in China and well as passion for style, I was inspired to tackle these widespread issues, and hopefully usher retail into a data-driven, less wasteful future.

What lessons can others learn from your story?

Don’t put yourself in a box and don’t be afraid to merge your interests across fields! I started off my career working in foreign exchange trading while still pursuing my interest in fashion. Coming from a trading background has allowed me to view fashion with a different perspective and really take a data driven approach. At the same time, I’m working in an industry that I love and where I feel that I can make an impact.

Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

We’re always looking to improve our technology, and we’ve made major strides since our company’s launch. We advanced our image recognition platform for enhanced trait tagging as well as made our technology platform agnostic. We have also tied our image tagging with search engines, so that we can chart visuals against interest in trends. We still have a ways to go, but we’re very excited about the progress we’ve made and look forward to future developments.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m very grateful to be in New York and surrounded by many successful startup leaders. Having a network that you can turn to for advice or bounce ideas off of, is invaluable. I’ve also met so many inspiring female founders that are at all different stages of their businesses. It helps me to really visualize where our business can be in a few years.

What are the 5 things that most excite you about the AI industry? Why

Deep learning on performance on everything from speech recognition to image processing

Prevalence and growth of non-linear models

Federation of data for all use cases

Inclusiveness from all areas of study collaborating (physicists, psychologists, artists)

How much we don’t know and how much there is left to learn

What are the 5 things that concern you about the AI industry? Why?

Bias and lack of diversity in development and training

Centralization of AI research among certain players (brain drain)

Privacy and personal data concerns

Loss of jobs with machine learning and automation across fields

Communication with the general public

As you know, there is an ongoing debate between prominent scientists, (personified as a debate between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg,) about whether advanced AI has the future potential to pose a danger to humanity. What is your position about this?

I tend to agree that we have so much left to learn, and we shouldn’t make people fearful of exploring new technologies. That being said, we do need to constantly evaluate ethical considerations and develop frameworks for testing. I think this comes from involving as many people as possible in the research process, and making sure people from various backgrounds and viewpoints are represented.

What can be done to prevent such concerns from materializing? And what can be done to assure the public that there is nothing to be concerned about?

We need better ways of discussing and decodifying developments in AI. Oftentimes, developments in AI are presented as extremes to the public, when in reality, we use components in our everyday lives. I think it’s important to publicize the great inter-field projects that are happening. When people understand how AI can impact areas such as art, it adds a layer of relatability.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

While we’re looking to scale and refine our technology that will hopefully have a broader impact on the retail industry, the great stories and reviews from our customers keep me motivated. I love seeing how people respond to our clothes and style them in different ways. We’ve had so many great moments from our customers wearing our styles for birthdays, weddings and more.

As you know, there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 3 things that you would you advise to other women in the AI space to thrive?

Find people who also enjoy exploring different ideas and brainstorming

Pursue unconventional opportunities

Emphasis your unique experience and what you bring to the table versus everyone else

Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the AI industry?

I think we need support at all parts of the funnel. It’s important to give women in the industry an equal voice and not speak over them. It’s also important to engage people interested in the field early on, and let them know that a career in the industry is very possible.

What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?

Don’t be afraid to take risks! When I decided to start Choosy, a lot of friends and family told me that I was too young and that a career in finance was much safer. Running my own business is unpredictable and stressful, but it’s also been incredibly rewarding to be able to execute my vision and grow something from scratch.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’m excited to see how Choosy will be able to help modern retail companies and bring trends to people who love them, without the social costs associated with retail today. I feel like Choosy’s already at the start of a movement.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow Choosy on:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/choosyusa/

IG: @choosy

Follow me on:

IG: @itsjessiezeng

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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