Fashion Decider is the Cover Story in IndulgeĀ 

Billinda Connolly-Tevendale created an app, FashionDecider

"Never underestimate the power of a good outfit on a bad day" is a quote Bay entrepreneur Billinda Connolly-Tevendale lives by.

Billinda is the creator of the website and the popular FashionDecider app. She has now amassed an online community of over 70,000 people to help women of all ages answer one of life's most stressful questions: what should I wear?

The 34-year-old primary school teacher knows all too well the pain women go through deciding what to wear on a daily basis, having spent endless hours in front of the mirror herself.

"Growing up I was never confident in how I looked. I always worried about how others saw me. Most days I would try a number of outfits on the night before school or work to try to decide what to wear." and the FashionDecider app allows users to upload photos of two different outfits and let their private group/s or the public vote on which outfit they think looks best to help decide which one should be bought or worn.

"If we change the way we dress, we can change the way we feel. Clothes have the ability to make you feel beautiful, powerful and unstoppable," Billinda says.

"I stumbled on to this idea because I often needed a second opinion that I trusted while out shopping for clothes, and I found my girlfriends weren't available to shop when I was because most of them are busy mothers like me."

Her other sounding-board - her husband - wasn't a good option either. "He would get sick of me asking which outfit he thought looked better and would often give his opinion without even properly looking at what I was wearing."

It's for that reason that Billinda describes Fashion Decider as a "relationship saviour".

"I'm sure many arguments women have had with their other halves stem from asking for outfit advice and receiving an answer they don't like. Fashion Decider takes the pressure off significant others and gives users impartial advice - it's a win-win!"

Billinda's tech-savvy solution has certainly struck a nerve with women around the globe and is now receiving strong interest in the Asian market - a feat which she credits to users being able to get helpful, quick and free advice at the press of a button.

Fashion Decider is like having your own personal stylist, free of charge, without leaving your house.
Billinda Connolly-Tevendale

Billinda describes her new venture as having been "a huge learning curve". A friend helped her design the initial website which she launched, together with a Facebook page, last July.

By placing Facebook ads and asking friends and family to help spread the word, her social media fans quickly skyrocketed to 70,000. A new and improved website plus the FashionDecider app (which is free to download on Apple and Android devices) were then unveiled last December.

"Now the website and app has so many new features because people have emailed from all over the world making suggestions to make it better," she says.

Feedback from people including high school students, wives and young men has led to a number of new features being added. You can now invite a friend, create a private group of "fashion expert'' friends, or add a hashtag to let others know what brand of clothes you're wearing. "If you click on a hashtag it then brings up all the other photos that have the same brand of clothes," Billinda explains.

Growing up at Lake Rotoma on the outskirts of Rotorua, Billinda was ironically a complete tom boy. Her childhood was spent playing beside the lake, riding motorbikes, making huts and doing anything outdoorsy. She never even wore dresses until she was about 18. Her desire to help others drew her into the teaching profession. She graduated from Bethlehem College of Education in Tauranga and now works at Lynmore Primary School in Rotorua.

"I wear many hats at school. I am a mentor, a tutor teacher for a beginning teacher, I am the team leader for the Year 0 team, a reading recovery teacher and I'm the Special Educational Needs Coordinator which is a massive job. I spend a lot of time helping teachers and getting extra help for students who need it, so it is very rewarding."

Billinda now loves fashion and dressing up, but doesn't have a lot of time to spare between teaching full-time and launching Fashion Decider. She's also a mother of two young children, Bella, 7, and Will, 5, who she says are her biggest achievements by far. "I am very proud of them. They make me laugh and smile every day."

Billinda Connolly-Tevendale

Once her kids are tucked up in bed each night, Billinda sits down to approve photos, reply to comments and answer emails. "I also work on Fashion Decider in the morning when my son gets up at 5am."

The busy mum says she's not a real girly-girl and admits she can't do her own hair, except for putting it up in a pony-tail or straightening it. And she never wears makeup. "If I go to a special occasion I always have to get my hair and makeup done professionally," she confesses.

She has however, a strong sense of what she likes to wear and doesn't really favour any particular brand over another.

"I've always been a proud Kiwi and since starting Fashion Decider I thought this could be a really good way to promote the amazing designers and clothing lines that we have here in New Zealand.

"I do love New Zealand brand Augustine and have bought a number of beautiful pieces from there, and last weekend I bought a pretty little summer dress from Harper in Mount Maunganui."

Despite taking a fair bit of her time, she isn't yet making any money off Fashion Decider. "I would never charge anyone to download the app and I don't ever plan to, but it would be amazing if Fashion Decider did make money in other ways.

"I would love to hear from any brand that would be interested in promoting their clothing through my channels."

Billinda says starting Fashion Decider has put her completely out of her comfort zone. "It has been an exciting ride so far and I can't wait to see where it leads me."