Meet the Bahraini Entrepreneur Who Is Revolutionizing Online Shopping

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SEPT App Yara AlDhaen
Photo: Courtesy of Hafsa Qasem

How many hours have you spent mindlessly scrolling and swapping between e-commerce websites trying to find few pieces that represent your personal style? How many times have you exited the million e-commerce tabs in frustration? If only there was a way to filter through the overwhelming options of clothes and accessories to just those that you love.

What if we told you that it is now possible to do so? SEPT – the brainchild of Bahraini entrepreneur Yara AlDhaen  is an app that uses is a specially designed algorithm to create a personalized shopping experience for users. How does it work? Glad you asked.

On signing up, users are asked to take part in a small quiz to help SEPT understand their brand and style preferences. Based on the users’ answers, the app will then create a tailored and instinctive shopping experience where users can swipe right if the item presented is “Me” or left if it’s “Not Me”.Based on swiping “Me” or “Not Me” on the products, results are filtered where the “Me” items go directly into one’s feed. The platform is adaptive, meaning the more you swipe, the algorithm re-ranks products in real-time. We know what you’re thinking — this is absolutely brilliant. And we agree.

To understand the incredible app and the motivation behind it, we sat down with founder Yara AlDhaen to discuss the newly launched business. Scroll down to read Savoir Flair’s interview with Yara AlDhaen.

What inspired the idea behind SEPT? How was SEPT born?
I would be sitting with a group of girlfriends, scrolling, looking for a dress for a wedding or whatever other events we had coming up. The thing is, I felt like everyone was frustrated after a point because everyone has a unique personal style. Everyone knows exactly what they want. Yet we were all looking at the same thing, no matter how many times we bought from the platform or brand. And I thought to myself, we live in a world where our Netflix is so personalized by the algorithm that I wouldn’t want anyone to touch my account. But when it comes to fashion, with the clothes you wear, you’re telling a story about yourself. It is an expression of who you are – who you want to be. And I felt that e-commerce just lacked that authenticity. That’s when I thought it’s time to step up and celebrate our individuality while shopping. So, I started working on the idea two years ago and only just launched the app earlier this month.

What does the name SEPT stand for? Is there any special meaning behind the name?
SEPT is basically short for September. September was originally meant to be the seventh month of the year and the number seven is lucky for me. Also, ‘Sept’ in ancient Irish means ‘cult.’ And that’s what I aim to be, a little cult app with people scrolling and swiping around. 

What do you wish to accomplish with the SEPT app?
I aim to be a tool for women who know who they are, what they want out of life, what they want to wear to be able to celebrate their individuality. I want to bring to them this service that enables them to be themselves in terms of fashion, of course. I didn’t grow up looking at a lot of people who looked like me, whether it was in cartoons, movies, or fashion magazines. I think when a platform or service is provided, to celebrate people for who they are – not who they should be or who society wants them to be – then it can bring a lot of freedom and joy. And that’s what I aim to accomplish with SEPT.

The concept of the app is based on instinctive shopping. When the app presents a product, we instantly know whether it is “Me” or “Not Me.” Is the algorithm designed to catch up with users’ choices and eventually show more and more products we would swipe right to?
Like with any other technology, the more you interact with our algorithm, the better it gets in personalizing your shopping page for you. The more you swipe, the better it gets at fetching what you want. This means if you swipe enough, SEPT will be the place you go to in order to find the most pieces that you do love, rather than having to search through a million options. 

Can you also complete a purchase through SEPT?
We have a ‘buy’ button on the app. Users can simply click on ‘Buy’ and the app will redirect you to the brand partner’s website. But, in the future, we want to have a universal checkout within the app which will allow users to buy from multiple retailers and brands with the click of a button.

What brands/luxury e-tailers do you partner with?
At the moment we have partnered with Farfetch, Net-a-Porter, Matches Fashion, Luisaviaroma, and MyTheresa. We are also working on adding local and niche brands to the app.

SEPT is available for download as an iOS application.

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