Katrina Lake. Photo: Courtesy
The article first appeared on Fashionista.
Of the many fashion tech startups and e-commerce companies we've seen flood the retail landscape in the past eight years or so, the personal styling service Stitch Fix has stood out as one of the fastest-growing and the first to go public, with a $120 million initial public offering last November. The IPO received an abundance of media attention across industries with journalists and analysts not only pointing to it as a potential model for other rapidly-growing fashion startups like Warby Parker, but also because of founder and CEO Katrina Lake's gender. Many stories pointed out that hers was the only female-led tech IPO of 2017.
Tech is a very male-dominated industry. According to recent statistics, women own only 5 percent of startups and hold only 11 percent of executive positions at Silicon Valley companies. Fashion has disturbingly few female CEOs as well. And while Lake faced some challenges along the way, her success with Stitch Fix, as she tells it, was simply the result of intelligence, hard work, product/market fit and a succession of strategic education and career moves. She knew she wanted to work at "the apparel retailer of the future" and took the steps she needed to get there — ultimately creating that retailer herself.
In many ways, Stitch Fix, a subscription service through which customers receive boxes of clothing chosen by stylists specifically for them and pay for what they like while returning what they don't, does represent the future of retail: It uses a combination of data science, artificial intelligence and human stylists for a business built around personalization. "How are people going to buy jeans 20 years from now?" Lake asked herself early in her career. "I don't think it's going to be spending a half day wandering around a bunch of stores at a mall. I don't think it's going to be sifting through a million pairs of jeans using filtering, sorting, ratings, and reviews in a traditional e-commerce setting." Many things point to personalization being an overarching theme in retail for years to come, and Stitch Fix appears to be a few steps ahead of the game.
So, we caught up with Lake a couple of months post-IPO to learn where Stitch Fix began, how it's grown so quickly, the challenges she faced (like getting investors interested in clothes) along the way and what's next. Read on for our interview.
Where did your career start? Were you always interested in retail?
I did a major in economics and, when I first went to college, I was thinking that I wanted to be a doctor. So I was also doing the pre-med human biology track. I was in those but really just got interested in the economics and business side and loved how applicable in real life it was. I took a job out of college and I did retail and restaurant consulting. That really was the beginning of, I guess, my interest in this business.
I could look at retail and restaurants and really felt like the world has come such a long way in the last 20 years and yet the way that people are choosing clothes, for example, has not really changed all that much. So I felt like there was just a real opportunity to bring more innovation into the way that people are buying clothes.
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Stitch Fix 首席执行官 Katrina Lake 希望在“未来服装零售商”中工作,所以她 创立了它(Fashionista)
在过去 8 年左右的时间里,我们看到大量时尚科技初创公司和电子商务公司涌现的零售业景观,个人造型 服务公司 Stitch Fix 作为增长最快和首次上市的公司之一,去年十一月首次公开发行 1.2 亿美元。这个 IPO 受到了记者和分析师们在媒体上的广泛关注,他们不仅将其视为 Warby Parker 等快速成长的时尚初创公 司的潜在模式,还因为创始人兼首席执行官 Katrina Lake 的性别。很多迹象表明这是 2017 年唯一一个女 性主导的高科技公司 IPO。
科技是一个男性主导的行业。根据最近的统计,在硅谷公司中,只有 5%的创业公司是女性创立的,只有 11%的女性在公司中担任管理职位。时尚行业中女性首席执行官也很少。虽然 Lake 在这个过程中遇到了 一些挑战,但是 Stitch Fix 的成功照她的话来说仅仅是聪明才智、勤奋努力、产品/市场契合以及战略教育 和职业生涯继承的结果。她知道她想在“未来的服装零售商”工作,并采取了相应的举动 - 最终自己创建 那个她梦想的零售商。
在许多方面,Stitch Fix 是一种订阅服务,通过这种服务,顾客可以收到由造型师专门为他们选择的服装, 并在退回他们不想要的东西,只购买他们喜欢的,这的确代表了零售的未来:它使用数据科学、人工智能 和人类造型师的结合建立了这个围绕个性化的企业。 “20 年后人们会如何买牛仔裤?”她早年在自己的 职业生涯中问自己。 “我不认为那会是在一个商场的一堆商店中闲逛半天,我也不认为会在一个传统电子 商务环境下通过过滤、分类、评分和评论来筛选一百万条牛仔裤。“ 许多事情表明个人化是未来几年零售 业的一个主要主题,Stitch Fix 似乎在这个游戏中领先几步。
所以,我们在上市几个月后就联系了 Lake,了解 Stitch Fix 是如何起步的,又是如何快速发展还有面临的 挑战(如让投资者对服装感兴趣)以及接下来要做的事情。请阅读我们的采访。
你的职业生涯从哪里开始? 你是否一直对零售业感兴趣? 我的专业是经济学,在我刚上大学的时候,我想要当一名医生。 所以我也在念人体生物学的前期课程。 那 个时候我只是对经济和商业方面感兴趣,并且这个在现实生活中的实用性让我很是喜欢。 我从大学外找了 份工作做零售和餐厅咨询。 我想,这是我真正开始对这项业务感兴趣的地方。
我看着零售店和餐厅,真的感觉到在过去的二十年里这个世界已经走过了这么长的一段路,但人们选择衣 服的方式并没有真正改变。 所以我觉得这里真的存在一个机会会让人们买衣服的方式有更多的创新。