Mela is short for Melanin. This web-app is for BIPOC. The inspiration for our feature derives from the change in shopping trends that resulted from COVID and being in lockdown. We realized that, while COVID was a time of discomfort for many of us, we were able to persevere and keep our heads high by indulging in different interests, one of which being retail therapy. We thought of how we could apply the knowledge that we have learned regarding COVID and its effects on retail to encourage community amongst online shoppers and benefit under-represented businesses and stores!
What it does
MelaMarket is an e-commerce website that allows users to consolidate their orders and purchases into one space and encourage consumers to develop community and common interests through shopping. Additionally, the website allows users to develop an aesthetic/vision board through their posts as well as discover a newfound social circle, all while making shopping quicker and more enjoyable! Users can explore the pages of MelaMarket’s community members, navigate to their posts, and easily select and purchase goods all in one place! Another feature of MelaMarket is that it encourages users to support local shops and Black-owned businesses in their region by implementing a toggle feature that allows users to locate the businesses in their area.
How we built it
We developed our tool using Flask - a web framework that combines Python and HTML, and CSS to make web/app development easier. For stylistic purposes, such as images and designing the nav bar, we used CSS. We made different HTML pages and linked them together using the template inheritance feature in flask. And we used Python to run the website.
Challenges we ran into
This was the first time many of us on the team had used Flask so we had issues getting set up at first. We had to dedicate some time to watching tutorials to get a good foundation before diving into the project. Another problem we had was using github to merge the code in our separate branches. We ran into trouble using the Google Maps API. Our goal was to show the user Black-owned business based on the zip code. To accomplish this, we researched relevant datasets & APIs and decided on the Google Maps Embed API. We followed tutorials and other resources but kept running into setbacks with displaying the map.
All in All, the workshops on Git, APIs, and Flask were very helpful in helping better understand and resolve our challenges.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were successful in creating a website that adequately shows a community-driven approach to shopping. Although it has a long way to go from the prototype, we learned a great deal and are definitely looking to continue developing after the hackathon. This website is the culmination of our frustrating experiences as Black women trying to shop and search the internet. We are proud that we were able to come up with a solution that creates a global-shopping community that reflects the beauty and diversity of our community.
Additionally, we were able to work through several challenges such as learning Figma, and Flask in a short time which shows the fruits of our labor and perseverance.
What we learned
Overall, we have learned so much after working together as a team, a common goal that we had within our team was to learn a bit more about front-end projects and design projects. Not only has this project tested our ability in developing a meaningful tool, but it has also allowed us to go out of our comfort zones so that in the future we can confidently produce an even better website!
What's next for MelaMarket
In future renditions of our project, we hope to implement Hacker and fraud prevention. We want to ensure a safe online experience for our users by ensuring that all sites that are added to a user’s posts and sites that are accessible from their feed undergo a screening that will take at most 24 hours to ensure that only secure sites are posted onto MelaMarket. Additionally, we hope to include crowdsourced data into our algorithm, we hope this will support users in locating more Black-owned businesses in their area by allowing community members to submit information on their local Black-owned businesses. We hope to verify and include this information in our database.