It’s hard not to be impressed with Katrina Lake. On our first meeting, which took place when I stopped by the original Market St. Stitch Fix offices (they’ve since moved and upgraded) to interview her for the San Francisco Chronicle, the fashion startup co-founder and CEO told me that you’ll pretty much never find her opting for pants over skirts and dresses. Clear style preferences and the put-togetherness required to don dresses and skirts everyday of the week will always get my applause.
Then there’s the San Francisco-bred entrepreneur’s backstory: A Stanford grad who spent time at Polyvore, Lake launched the company in February 2011 with co-founder Erin Flynn on the eve of Lake’s graduation from Harvard Business School. In a little over a year, Stitch Fix has grown from a two-woman opp to a much-buzzed-about go-to for women seeking on-trend apparel chosen according to their size and style preferences and delivered in a box to their doorstep. Once they receive what the company calls their latest “fix,” members pay only for the clothes they decide to purchase and send the rest back. Keep nothing, and the only cost is a $20 styling fee.
While Stitch Fix is still in beta, Lake’s perspective on digital style is far from early stage. We caught up with this rising fashion-tech star lately to chat about her life, thoughts on the burgeoning fashion-tech scene and the tech she currently can’t live without.
Favorite techie accessory: My iPhone with the custom Stitch Fix case.
If we left you on a deserted island with only one power outlet, what would you choose to plug-in?
Stove? Refrigerator? Food > iPhone in Darwin’s world.
How do fashion and technology merge in your day-to-day life? In even more ways than I ever imagined. Running a data-driven retail company, it’s truly part of what I think about all day everyday, but even without it being my official job, technology and fashion intersect much more frequently than I ever would have imagined. I’ll go through my day today. I iChatted with my sister in New York about a pair of shoes. She sent some photos over, and we exchanged a bunch of texts. I swooned over Pinterest (almost exclusively fashion boards) on my phone on my way to work. And browsing my favorite blogs, of course: 9to5, Refinery29, Because I’m Addicted, City Sage…the list goes on!
What three sites, apps or online tools should we all be checking out the minute we finish reading this? Of course I have to shout-out my fashion faves: Polyvore, Go Try It On, Threadflip, Joyus, Poshmark, Pose.
There are a couple of Gmail plug-ins that are really great for work-related things: Rapportive brings in people’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, so that you can see who you are emailing with. Boomerang lets you send things later, get reminders, etc.
In SF, I really can’t survive without SF Climates, Routsey and Uber.
The fashion and tech industries have traditionally not been ones to mingle at the same parties, but all that’s changing. What do you think the fashion world can learn from the tech world and vice versa? I could probably write a short novel on this topic, but I’ll spare you this time. Broadly speaking, having cross-functional mingling is fantastic and is going to be the best way to bring innovation quickly. Our developers learn an enormous amount from spending time with our stylists, for example. The world of commerce and retail has been focused around the transactional– thinking about the actual experiential component of commerce and fashion is an enormous opportunity.
When was your last angels-are-singing-and-I-might-literally-swoon shopping moment? There’s a lot of swooning in the Stitch Fix office. The recent Stitch Fix number I get tons of compliments on is an Aryn K pleated dress. It’s summery, colorful, comfortable. I love it. I’ve also recently swooned over fresh flowers, an amazing new hair dryer. Sometimes it’s the little things.
On your next completely work- and commitment-free Saturday afternoon, where would we find you? I love running in San Francisco. I have a route that includes Golden Gate Park, Lands End and the beach. It’s breath-taking every time, and I get goosebumps feeling so lucky to live here.
What’s new and exciting at Stitch Fix that you’d like readers to know about? We’re still in beta but making lots of changes and improvements in the months to come, stay tuned!
More digital style…