Cynthia Holcomb

Founder | CEO, Prefeye - Preference Science Technologies Inc.
Cynthia Holcomb, CEO and Founder of Prefeye, is pioneering the Art and Science of Preference. Her mission: humanize the digital experience, crossing the current emotional and sensory engagement barriers imposed by the digital world.

Prefeye technologies are inspired by Cynthia’s 20+ years in the apparel and fashion industry, designing and building products for dozens of retailers and brands, including Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Lord and Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Product Group, Pendleton, QVC, Speedo and the home products industry.

As Design Director to Nordstrom, Cynthia spent years watching shoppers make the decision to purchase or NOT to purchase. Curious, this led to 15 years of research and technological development based on the cognitive sciences of psychology, artificial intelligence and neuroscience. Cynthia’s focus: develop an agnostic, digital platform to decode how information is represented, processed, and transformed by human sensory perception, memory and emotion into the decision to purchase a product or brand by an individual shopper.

Prefeye, Cynthia’s 5th startup, is a preference recommendation platform, individually preference-matching people to products. Prefeye is the digital equivalent of in-store shopping for products humans purchase based on emotion and individual sensory preference. Products like apparel, cars, homes, home furnishings, shoes and art.

Cynthia’s work has appeared in Time Magazine, CNN, WWD and Apparel Technology. Cynthia holds a B.S. in Clothing and Textile Science. Nine patents filed in Preference shopping science.

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  • Posted on: 09/19/2017

    Five skills every retail manager needs to succeed

    Let's see, most retail employees make minimum or just above minimum wage, which can range up to $12 or so dollars an hour depending on the state. Most staff is capped at 30 hours a week making them not eligible for benefits. Most staff must work nights and weekends. In specialty chain stores, managers usually have benefits and make around $50K a year. Neither the managers nor the staff has a big upside. So what is going to motivate staff to give their all every day, and in every way? A rock star leader! Someone who can inspire staff to forget about the challenges of living on low wages, changing the focus to the "pride of ownership” in his or her piece of the pie at work.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2017

    Can v-commerce give brands the edge they need online?

    So we are talking about "blanks" being personalized? Or are we talking about printers spitting out custom garments? I am sure at some point in the years to come personalized "blanks" will go beyond basic apparel. Zara and H&M fast fashion have vastly variable product attributes combined in thousands of combinations, using hundreds of different fibers, fabrics and silhouettes. Totally different ball game. No pun intended!
  • Posted on: 09/14/2017

    Nike customizes shoes for ‘sneakerheads’ in under an hour

    Fun, cool, a real experience for shoppers who love their sneakers. While customization is not new by any means, the idea of a consumer playing creator is a new riff on customization. Looks like Nike is investing to enable quick execution, which will be the litmus test to teens "designing" their own shoe. The Maker Movement will likely launch new companies into the customization space.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2017

    Kmart ditches plus sizes for ‘fabulously sized’ clothing

    A quick visit to this am. While the "I Can" video was front and center, women's apparel offerings were still filtered by "women's" and "plus size clothing." Many of the apparel offerings said, "sold by Sears." The "I Can" video is vague -- yes the women look plus size, but confusing why the video shows the plus size model taking a white sledgehammer to knock the "T" out of "I CAN'T" to make it read "I Can." Not sure of the meaning. As far as I know, Plus Size Women can already do what ever they want and find many great retailers inventoried with great looking "plus size" clothes. Check out DressBarn -- online or in-store.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2017

    Artificial intelligence makes brand personalities come to life

    I sure hope AI has the ability to go beyond current voice selection prompts used by everyone from the Federal Government to Comcast, and the millions of other companies whose voice prompts are a path to nowhere but frustration.Will it be nice having a personified "brand personality" chat with customers? If all goes as planned and the customer can get where they want to go or what they want, then yes. Any hiccups, then just like when a human personality rubs another human the wrong way, so will the "brand personality." And then, of course, the tone and word selection of the conversational language of the "brand personality" must be relatable to the caller or otherwise due to the subjectivity of words and tone, the "brand personality" could be a turn off to a demographic of customers. Tricky stuff.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2017

    Will lower everyday prices boost Target’s traffic and sales?

    With the purchase of Whole Foods, the new flavor of the day is groceries. And commodities. Cheaper, lower. Target used to focus on great, very cool, private branded products like clothes, linens, home furnishings, stationery, makeup and the like. Design teams created the great products. People went to Target to purchase inexpensive, fun things to update their homes, wardrobes and the like.I shopped my local Target this past weekend. I noticed an abundance of produce and grocery options I had not seen before. Like Target's version of Whole Foods. I wonder how many of us think of Target as a grocery destination.Personally, I am skeptical of buying fresh food at Target. The challenges of rebranding to become everything to everyone, cheaper, are tough. But The GOOD NEWS: Target has revamped its apparel offering, going back to the days when it was exciting to find new and fashionable products designed and priced with the Target vibe! Floor displays, mannequins, a total re-merch of floor layouts. Good stuff Target. Analysts take a second look at Target apparel.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2017

    ‘Okay Google, I want to order from Home Depot’

    Retailers who jump on board with Google Express or Amazon Echo assume:
    1. Large percentages of their customers own an Assistant or Echo or will purchase one soon and then actually use it.
    2. Retail catalogs of millions and millions of individual product SKUs must be integrated into voice-activated product databases for Echo and Google Assistant. Voice activated must provide seamless translation between the subjectivity of "word descriptions" used by millions of individual humans to order a specific product.
    3. Commodities, replacement products, yes. Items purchased based on sensory and aesthetic preferences, no.
    There is no doubt there will be a place for voice-activated retailing in the future. Outside of the politics of Amazon, Google and Walmart, what we are really seeing are attempts by retailers to catch up with their customer’s not so new ways of digitally shopping. Various technologies are now the new flavor of the day.
  • Posted on: 09/07/2017

    Will Levi’s virtual stylist put more online shoppers into its jeans?

    When it comes to an individual customer’s fit, look and feel preferences, the multitude of sensory outcomes of even the most "finite characteristics" combined in a 3 dimensional garment create vastly different sensory fit, look and feel outcomes, impossible for a bot to translate.The top 2 reasons: 1) The complete and utter subjectivity of words to both the speaker and the receiver of the words. The bot’s "loose fit" may be the shopper’s "baggy fit." 2) The complete subjectivity of individual human fit, look and feel preferences.A bot is a middleman, reacting subjectively to the way it was programmed to respond to each input by the shopper. Inbred bias. Seeing how a garment "fits" you on a virtual person is a linear representation of a 3 dimensional reality. Friends may say "you look great" in the virtual representation of you, which is not the same as you loving the fit, look and feel of your new jeans.The end game -- preference match the sensory profile of a product to a person through the filter of individual human preference.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2017

    Do independent retailers need a marketing plan?

    Limited resources = thinking, acting and being resourceful. It is easy to throw money at a project. It is much harder to execute a vision, touching the intended customer emotionally.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2017

    Will AI mimicry ruin online user-generated reviews?

    Credit to Peter Seeger.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2017

    Will AI mimicry ruin online user-generated reviews?

    Where have all the humans gone? Long time passing Where have all the humans gone? Long-time ago Where have all the humans gone? Covered with flowers every one When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?
  • Posted on: 08/30/2017

    Is there a ‘right way’ for retailers to help in times of disaster?

    It is heartbreaking to watch the devastation and human tragedy in Texas and now today in Louisiana. In the months/years to come, rampant homelessness, loss of income, children without schools. Companies like Amazon and Walmart could take a long term leadership role in setting up programs leveraging their resources to help the victims of Harvey go through the long and arduous task of rebuilding their lives. Sometimes it is not about the money, it is providing a platform to bring people together leveraging a large retailer's resources and network -- networks of people and support beyond the scope of state, local and federal governments.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2017

    Are Whole Foods’ price cuts game-changing for food retailing?

    I do not see how cutting prices to match the already lower prices other grocers charge for avocados, in the same metro areas, will bring more grocery shoppers to Amazon/Whole Foods. Loss leaders? How many shopping carts full of groceries do you see in a Whole Foods versus hand carry baskets carrying several items? Whole Foods has been too expensive for many to buy the full range of grocery products needed in life. Drop in for an avocado and kale?Prime memberships discount commodities which is counter-intuitive to Whole Foods' high pricing of the commodities sitting alongside the food. Whole Foods is known for wonderful displays of FRESH food and take out selections. Maybe Amazon will turn Whole Foods into a discount food retailer with other Amazon products like Alexa in between the avocados and kale.
  • Posted on: 08/28/2017

    Are vendors delivering better online experiences than multi-brand sellers?

    Several schools of thought. 1. Know exactly what you want to buy. Love a specific brand. Love the fit, look and feel of the brand's products, why waste time self-filtering through hundreds of similar products on a multi-brand website? 2. Want to shop hundreds of brands for just the right dress? Multi-brand websites are inventoried with hundreds to thousands of dress choices. 3. Of course one can filter by brand on a multi-branded web site, results edited to the retailer's point of view. Circular question! Variable by item, variable by the shopper, variable by brand, variable by the retailer.
  • Posted on: 08/23/2017

    Will the Walmart/Google voice deal give Amazon’s Alexa a run for its money?

    Totally agree "will Walmart have enough quality items to order via Google Home?" Seems technology has become more important than the product itself.

Contact Cynthia