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On the Job

Fashion app takes shopping offline

Boston doesn’t deserve its reputation as a badly dressed city, says Tiana Haraguchi, creater of the Boutikey app. She thinks the Hub has trendsetters and boutiques aplenty.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Boston doesn’t deserve its reputation as a badly dressed city, says Tiana Haraguchi, creater of the Boutikey app. She thinks the Hub has trendsetters and boutiques aplenty.

Tech fashionista Tiana Haraguchi cites the statistic that 80 percent of fashion boutiques fail within the first five years of opening. She believes that her mobile app, Boutikey, will give customers the extra push they need to make their way into independently owned boutiques.

Haraguchi, who launched the app this year, has signed over 70 boutiques and more than 1,000 users. “Ironically,” said Haraguchi, 25, “it’s online digital tools that are helping to get shoppers into the offline world of brick-and-mortar stores by personalizing the shopping experience.”

Why is Boston often rated
as one of the worst-dressed
cities in the country?

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Boston gets a bad rap because it’s such a big college town. The typical college student’s dress style — sweat pants and hoodies — takes over the scene. But Boston does have an abundance of style. The city is filled with countless socialites and fashionistas who are bringing international-inspired trends into the city.

What is the boutique scene like here?

The boutiques are clustered in the South End, Newbury, Charles Street, and Harvard Square. And there’s an up-and-coming group of boutiques in the North End.

How does Boutikey work?

The app I created helps shoppers discover new boutiques and keep up with the latest trends and styles. Every dollar they spend in a participating store is tracked, and after spending a certain amount, they can earn points or savings toward a future purchase. We’re also working on tracking data so retailers can home in on shopping patterns.

Why is it so hard for boutiques to keep up with modern marketing?

Most are thinly staffed and have limited resources, and often owned by proprietors whose passion is fashion or merchandising, not business.

You call your app a “shared shopping community” that brings the Boston fashion community together. Are you achieving that goal?

Our launch party featured styles from 30 of the boutiques we work with, and many boutique owners met other owners for the first time.

What are some do’s and don’ts of app development?

Getting something built for a reasonable cost is something investors like to see. It’s a matter of being patient, knowing good talent when you see it, and staying involved, even if it means staying up till 2 a.m. because of the time difference between here and India.

What’s your favorite boutique as a fashion entrepreneur?

Crush Boutique on Beacon Hill and the Back Bay, and Ku De Ta and Pretty Reckless in South Boston. I literally never have been ever been able to leave any of these stores empty handed.

Cindy Atoji Keene can be reached at cindy@cindyatoji.com.
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