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Why Stitch Fix Is Developing a Company of Leaders?(BoF)

Stitch Fix employees | Source: Courtesy

Stitch Fix employees | Source: Courtesy

The article first appeared on the Business of Fashion.

SAN FRANCISCO, United States — Founded by chief executive Katrina Lake in 2011, online styling service and fashion retailer Stitch Fix blends human styling with algorithms to create a personalised experience for its clients. Stitch Fix generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue, working towards creating “an entirely new shopping paradigm based on personalisation.”

Through founding Stitch Fix, Lake sought to build a company she and her employees would want to work at forever, based on strong values and a culture of employee empowerment. Today, Stitch Fix has more than 6,000 employees in the United States. Its management team includes former chief executive Mike Smith as chief operating officer and Eric Colson — previously a data scientist at Netflix — as chief algorithms officer, who both joined the company in 2012.

Today, the company’s continuing growth and performance is driven by clearly defined leadership values and the underlying belief that every individual — no matter where they sit within the organisation — has the power to exhibit those values and act as a leader in their work each day. A programme of consistent 360-degree feedback supports this, designed to encourage partnership, innovation, integrity, and personal responsibility.

BoF sits down with Mike Smith, chief operating officer, to hear more.

How would you describe the DNA of Stitch Fix?

For me, it comes to life when I watch meetings between a data scientist, someone with a PhD in astrophysics who’s worked in a lab for most of his or her career and now works with Stitch Fix on our algorithms, sitting with someone who’s been in merchandising for 12 years who is getting exposed to data science for the first time. It’s awesome to watch the mutual respect that each group has for the other, and how that comes to life in solving business problems. It feels like this great partnership between two very distinct and different groups. They come from very different angles but they’re still both trying to solve a client problem.

The vision we all work towards is our belief that we are transforming the way people find what they love. We think it’s a bold vision, this idea that where there’s nuance in decision making, we can really help in discovery and decision-making. It’s intentionally meant to be more than just apparel and intentionally meant to be client-centric. I think we do an amazing job of combining humans and machines to create the best of both worlds, where your job is more creative because you can have machines do tasks that are better for machines to do. We did not try to just do e-commerce differently, or brick-and-mortar retail differently — we are restarting the whole experience based on what the client wants and where the client experience is going.

Read more on the Business of Fashion.

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