Alumna Vani Kumar Launches Photo Editing App Phixst
Apparel Industry Management Alumna Vani Kumar has just created and launched Phixst, a new photo editing app, headquartered in San Francisco. It’s live on Apple’s App Store, and will be ready soon for Android. Vani earned her Bachelor’s degree from UC Irvine and completed the Entrepreneur Business Training Program at USC Marshall School of Business. We caught up with her to find out more about her new venture.
Tell us a little about Phixst: There are essentially two types of people—those who focus on taking the perfect photos, and the rest of us who choose to live in the moment. I founded Phixst because I am one of those “in-the-moment” kinds of people with tons of awesome memories, but countless not-so-shareworthy photos—and quickly learned I wasn’t alone!
Phixst is a mobile app that provides photo editing services in a fast, affordable and personalized way. It is the first woman-owned service of its kind focused on bringing honesty and social responsibility back to photo editing. Having dealt (and overcame) a personal battle with body image issues, the app was built intentionally around preventing the ability to request unnatural face/body enhancements.
While I never had intentions of sharing my personal struggle, I’m realizing I did just that when I built my desire of wanting to make a difference right into the app! Ironically, this is also why our customers love to use Phixst. Phixst has received photo edit requests of pets, families/babies, social media posts, dating profiles to small business owners.
How did you come up with the idea? The idea for Phixst was born in 2014 on a girls trip to NY. True to form, my girls and I were caught up in having such a good time, by the end of the trip we realized we had only taken a handful of photos. None of them were shareworthy! On the plane ride home, completely devastated, my friend managed to salvage one of the photos with a bit of photo editing magic. Blown away by not only how fast she was able to edit the photo, she was able to reclaim one of my all-time favorite memories in less than five minutes! I knew right then this was something that could be bigger.
When did you launch it? Phixst went live in Apple’s App Store in September 2018. We are already working on the Android version due to unexpected demand. We will announce the Android launch on our social media when it’s ready. You can follow us on IG @phixstapp or FB @phixst.
Where do you find your inspiration and what drives you? In my 20s, when I opened my clothing store, The Suit Closet, my parents were 100% my source of inspiration. They immigrated from India to the U.S. in the 70s wanting to give my siblings and I opportunities they never had. They continue to be my inspiration. Today, having seen and done more, I would add that I believe I have a responsibility to future generations, particularly young women, to show them they can do whatever they put their mind to. Money has never been my reason; passion and meaningful work is what gets me through my hardest days.
How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? FIDM played an integral role in my life in that it provided me the tools I needed at a time when I felt like I had none. The fashion industry is not something you can just Google—it’s tough and extremely competitive. I went to FIDM to prepare me for a career in fashion and what I especially loved was how my teachers always told me the truth. I worked closely with them to make sure I left FIDM with a successful career ahead of me.
Do you have any advice for students about to embark on their careers? If there’s anything I know for sure, it’s that what you give is what you get. If you work hard and put in the time and sacrifice necessary, only good things will come from that. I would’ve never guessed when I graduated from FIDM that I’d find myself building an app one day, yet here I am. With that said, I believe every twist and turn that has happened in my career, I always did my best and it has surely helped me to get to where I am today.
What is your biggest goal right now? My biggest goal right now is growing and expanding Phixst while trying to keep some form of work/life balance. Wish me luck!