Innovation isn’t something that comes easy; often, the most inventive ideas are met with dismissal, and framed as something too lofty to be executed in reality. Last November, Katrina Lake, CEO of the online shopping subscription service Stitch Fix, made history as the youngest female founder to take a company public – a feat she achieved with her 14-month-old son in her arms, no less.
Lake had her share of naysayers. When she presented her vision – a re-imagined retail experience, where everyone has the benefit of a personal stylist’s curated apparel collection, but without the hefty price tag - it was received with mixed reviews. The venture capitalists she worked with, most of whom were men, didn’t know what to make of her idea. Others worried that inventory would be a nightmarish endeavor for a company that would ultimately rely on having a vast array of pieces to fit the unique style preferences of its customers.
"When you are doing something no one else is doing, you are either the smartest person in the room or the dumbest… For years, I didn’t know which one I was.”
- Katrina Lake, Founder of Stitch Fix
Today, her unlikely idea is now a globally-utilized company valued approximately at $2 billion dollars. Stitch Fix is all about celebrating and validating personal style – cleverly gathering data through the usage of sign up quizzes and using personal Pinterest and Instagram accounts for style inspiration.
Their reliance on both algorithmic data and the personal touch of human stylists enables them to seamlessly provide a premium shopping experience for its customers by making shopping efficient without sacrificing personalization. In fact, that personal touch is evident right down to their packaging – inside every box are five carefully selected pieces selected from 700 brands and a letter bearing the signature of the personal stylist and tips on how to style and accessorize the looks. Reviews of each piece online allow for "fixes" to be tailored even better for the customer in the future.
According to Forbes, Lake has been deemed an “Entrepreneur to Watch," and has appeared twice on Fortune’s “40 Under 40” list. We have been watching and taking note at CRP, and we can confidently say that Katrina Lake was the smartest person in that room.