These Stylish Girlbosses Behind Stitch Fix Share Their Keys to Success
When you’re busy being a #girlboss, raising a family or crushing it in the gym, sometimes your wardrobe takes a backseat. Because, let’s be honest — shopping can sometimes be a drag, and it’s easy to let things like keeping up with the must-have accessories of the season fall to the bottom of your priority list. Which is why Stitch Fix, an online personal shopping service that delivers hand-picked, personalized clothing and accessory options to your doorstep, is — or should be — every girl’s new best friend. We caught up with the trio of Stitch Fix execs — Katrina Lake, founder and CEO, Julie Bornstein, chief operating officer and Lisa Bougie, chief merchandising officer — to talk about the challenges women in Silicon Valley face, how they deal with differences in opinion and their secrets to (Stitch Fix and personal) success.
B+C: Give us the Stitch Fix elevator pitch.
Katrina Lake: Founded in 2011, Stitch Fix is an online personalized styling service which delivers apparel, accessories and footwear selected to fit each client’s unique taste, lifestyle and budget right to their doors. Our personal stylists save our clients the time and trouble of shopping for clothing and accessories, while allowing them to enjoy the ease and convenience of receiving their scheduled Fix shipments at a frequency that works best for their schedule. Stitch Fix is innovating personal commerce and giving consumers more flexibility in their shopping habits. We have something for every woman, whether they’re busy running their own company, a mom of three, or simply just looking for stylish looks.
B+C: And how does it differ from other online personal shopping brands?
Julie Bornstein: Stitch Fix is the first fashion retailer to blend expert styling, proprietary technology and unique products for a truly personalized experience. Unlike subscription services, Stitch Fix doesn’t require a membership fee or a monthly subscription — so it allows our clients to enjoy the online personal shopping services on their own terms.
B+C: So you rely on a mix of personal style consultation and technology to find shoppers the best pieces for their closets. Why are both important to the process?
Lisa Bougie: It’s important that the service combines big data and personal styling because it allows our customers to receive the most curated and personalized items. When a client signs up for Stitch Fix, they complete a detailed style profile to help us understand their size, style, shape, budget and lifestyle. Upon completion, the client’s stylist combined with the data pull together suggested curated looks. By combining the intelligence of more than 50 data scientists and on-trend knowledge of more than 2,000 stylists, Stitch Fix provides a Fix (AKA a personalized box) that’s a perfect fit for you.
B+C: As leaders of a multi-million dollar business, it can’t be smooth sailing 24/7. How do you deal with conflict and difference in opinion?
KL: Staying focused and aligned around the long-term vision. Even though there may be different paths from point A to point B, if we can agree that point B is where we want to be and there’s a shared vision and sense of purpose, tactical differences are much less controversial.
JB: I’m a middle child, so I’m a peacemaker by nature. I like to make sure everyone feels heard and then always give rationale behind a decision. I know not everyone will agree, but I try to find answers that best meet everyone’s needs, while making sure we deliver on the ultimate goal. Sometimes it just takes clarifying the goal for everyone to align.
LB: Three words: Talk it out. While not all decision-making can or should be democratic, it’s super important to listen (really listen!) to all opinions. Often, that process yields an evolved point of view and better decision. I try to live by Nelson Mandela’s words: “If I cannot change when the circumstances demand it, how can I expect others to?”
B+C: You don’t find too many women in C-suite positions in Silicon Valley. Why do you think that is and how can we get more #girlbosses into the corner office?
KL: At Stitch Fix, half of our board and over half of our management team is comprised of women, so I know firsthand there’s not a lack of talent. That being said, as a society, we need to work hard to address the systemic biases that are driven by who venture capitalists are, who gets funded and how decisions are made about leadership. I’m hopeful that we’ll see more progress, but I’m really happy that Stitch Fix has shown that it’s possible.
JB: It’s partially a law of numbers. Men hold most of the current executive seats, and they tend to hire other men. Ultimately, the more women that pave the way, have strong self-confidence, believe that they can add value and can sell themselves, the more women we’ll see at the top. We need to help women have the confidence to sell their strengths, and then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
B+C: What do you wish busy women would take more time to do?
JB: Create clear boundaries. If you put the time into scheduling what’s important to you and stick to it, you can make it happen. I leave the office to see my kids by 5:30 or 6pm every night, and only commit to one evening work event per week max.
LB: Take the long view and invest in their own well-being as a daily practice. It’s amazing what an hour of doing something that supports your best self will do for your day. For me, that’s exercise. Everything is possible for me after a great workout, and I’m more effective during the rest of my day as a result!
B+C: What’s your key to success?
KL: Looking at the world through a lens of possibility. A lot of what we’ve done at Stitch Fix hasn’t been done before; being able to remember that crazier things have happened and to know that harder things have been done gave me confidence. This confidence helped me to reach out to people I don’t know on LinkedIn and to unabashedly recruit people who may have felt way out of our league.
JB: An endorphin trigger that comes from checking things off my list, an internal drive to achieve and, ultimately, a belief that almost anything is possible if you really want it.
LB: Vision and a growth mindset. Getting clear on my vision for my life five years out and identifying the things that are required to get there has been key to fulfilling my goals in life. It’s not a mechanical process but, rather, a fluid one — learning and growing every step of the way.
B+C: What’s next for Stitch Fix?
KL: We are launching an extensive men’s line in fall 2016. For those interested in learning more about Stitch Fix Men as details become available, please visit stitchfix.com/mens and join the waiting list for Stitch Fix Men.
Know a #girlboss we need to talk to? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Stitch Fix)