Finery co-founders Brooklyn Decker and Whitney Casey, in an attempt to create the ultimate virtual closet, confronted the issue that caused all the versions that came before them to fail: They removed as much manual work as they could.
“The whole idea behind a virtual closet is that our lives can run more efficiently,” said Decker. “Let’s simplify everything, consolidate our stuff, shop from there, get dressed from there. The problem is that when you require manual data entry, you’re contradicting what the idea is all about.”
For inspiration, Decker and Casey looked to similar life-simplifying apps for other industries, like Mint for finances and TripIt for travel itineraries (rather than the idealistic “Clueless” closet other virtual companies have claimed to build). From there, they spent a year and a half building proprietary technology with a team of coders that can pull together every wardrobe-related online purchase a user’s made by combing a linked email inbox for receipts.
Decker joined the Glossy Podcast to talk about Finery’s obstacles, goals and future potential. Edited highlights below.
On building the Finery community
According to Decker, Finery works best when the user does the majority of her shopping online. Offline purchases can be added using a browser extension that lets you add items to your wardrobe directly from a product page. Finery’s faced criticisms from people who still do a majority of their shopping offline, but Decker believes that voice will become less and less relevant while shopping behavior shifts to e-commerce.
But, of course, it’s important that an efficient customer experience is at the center of Finery’s decision-making process, and that’s why Decker approaches Finery’s community not from the mindset of a style aggregator or online closet, but as a platform like Instagram.
“With a company like ours, technology is the advantage, but it’s really about building a community,” she said. “The biggest marketing advantage we have is that we’re solving a problem women have in their lives. And we have technology to back this up. We need to look at the Instagrams of the world and think about it not as selling or retail, but more as a community.”
On promoting sustainability
Decker said Finery works best for those who frequently shop online, but the company’s goal is to position itself as a platform that pushes people to shop less, not more. By creating an online closet for its users, the Finery team believes shoppers will end up purchasing more strategically, getting more use out of what they already have and buying less overall.
“Everything about the life cycle of clothing right now is so quick; it’s just about consumption all the time,” said Decker. “We wanted to find out how we could streamline this process, help you shop less often but more strategically, and cut down on the amount of clothing you’re buying but never actually wearing.”
On potential partnerships
Right now, Finery is focused on perfecting the user experience, but Decker doesn’t rule out potential retail partnerships down the line. Using customer data, she sees potential to have select retail and brand partners offer suggestions based on what’s already in customers’ wardrobes.
“So far, we’re brand agnostic. We have the tech to get into your wardrobe and provide you a service without brand loyalty. But we let our users guide us,” said Decker. “We’ve found they want to share their wish list and what’s in their wardrobe, and they want smart suggestions. If we show her something she’s really going to want to invest in, we see a lot of potential down the road.”