Imagine for a moment: You come home from a long day at work. You’re tired, dinner needs to be prepared (we will discuss the instant meal fantasy another time, ladies), and there’s still work email to be handled. There, amid the unwanted catalogues and bills, sits a lovely square box, its signature green and white logo letting you know your birthday has just arrived early.
Inside the box, carefully wrapped in tissue paper, sit five perfectly folded clothing items and accessories hand-chosen by your personal stylist. That’s right, your personal stylist. You try on the items in your own home, keep what you want, and send back whatever you don’t in the enclosed pre-paid self-addressed envelope. It’s that simple.
The good news is that this busy woman’s fantasy is actually real—it’s called Stitch Fix. Stitch Fix is an online clothing and accessories e-tailer, which means that for thousands of busy women across America, mall shopping has become no more than a bad dream from the past. Instead, Stitch Fix customers simply go online, select when they’d like to receive a fix, and the magic begins. And, if the thousands of Stitch Fix reviews online are any indication, it’s an idea whose time is certainly welcome.
When Stitch Fix started in 2011, Founder/CEO Katrina Lake was a Harvard Business School student who bought clothes off the rack and filled orders in her Cambridge, Massachusetts, apartment. Today, the company, which marked its five-year anniversary on Valentine’s Day, has over 4,000 employees — over 2,500 of them are stylists who send customers’ personal clothing care packages from 10 geographic hubs around the country. Stitch Fix spokesperson Erin First says that the company has new headquarters in San Francisco and smaller offices in Austin, Texas; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Phoenix, Arizona.
In addition to now purchasing clothes wholesale, Stitch Fix is also creating its own clothing lines, according to First. “We started developing lines that are not trend-driven but [are staples] that clients are looking for,” she says, ticking off pencil skirts and cardigans as examples. “We now have six or seven Stitch Fix labels that fit different niches.” The company also has vendors that work exclusively with Stich Fix, and in 2015 Stitch Fix expanded to include maternity clothes and clothes for petite women.
A smart business plan is part of why Stitch Fix is the darling of the e-tailer world — Benchmark’s Bill Gurley is among its investors. And the company has lured notable talent from Netflix and Sephora. But First credits the growth of Stitch Fix to its happy customers.
When she joined the company a few years ago, it was still relatively small. “We had done very little in marketing. Almost all of it was referral organic,” she says. “But there was something about the magic of the Stitch Fix box that was so viral.” Women began posting their Stitch Fix reviews on blogs, on their Facebook pages.
“We hit on this magic combination of using great data and expert stylists that really works for women,” First says. “It’s taking the stress out of their lives, worrying about what they’re wearing and delivering in a beautiful package. You feel special when you open it—it’s a little present. The whole experience has helped us go viral.”
While some might assume a fix in which a woman purchases only one item as a failure, First says that’s not at all the case. While the company is, of course, thrilled if someone buys all five items, that is, in fact, not the goal. “If a customer buys two items, that’s a successful fix,” she says. “It’s great if you buy five and that’s awesome. But we would rather somebody be on board for years who buys one item regularly. We think of it as if you took five items into dressing room, and you bought one or two, you would consider that a pretty successful shopping trip.
“We are focused on the long-term relationship with our client and helping her dress for every stage of her life,” First adds, noting the company takes pride in being able to offer appropriate clothes for women of all ages.
Indeed, proof of the viral quality of Stitch Fix is just a click away. The company regularly posts Stitch Fix reviews on its website. Typing in “Stitch Fix reviews” on Pinterest reveals hundreds and hundreds of customers posing with their fixes, offering a photo and comment on each item. Not all of the reviews are 100 percent positive —these are real women talking about what worked with their fixes and what didn’t.
The ease of Stitch Fix is another reason for its popularity. Unlike subscription-based online services, the customer is entirely in charge of how frequently she gets a fix. And each fix only costs $20 — which is deducted from your purchase if you buy something. So, worst-case scenario? You’ve paid $20 for the convenience of trying on some clothes in your bedroom.
“We would rather keep you for life than force you into some subscription format that is not good for you,” First says.
Here’s what you need to know to decide yourself — is Stitch Fix worth it?
The process is couldn’t be simpler.
And that’s it. So, is Stitch Fix worth it? The answer for many women who’ve tried the service appears to be yes. Seventy percent get another fix.
“All our clients are super-busy women,” First says. “Whether they are just starting a family or moving on to the next phase of life, most of them don’t want to spend the whole weekend at the mall shopping.”
But Stitch Fix is about more than simply helping the busy woman cope, First says, noting that the many Stitch Fix reviews are from women talking about how great they feel in a particular pair of pants, or how they would never chosen a particular top in the store themselves, but they love the top they were sent. This is the real appeal behind Stitch Fix. “We hear those stories all the time — ‘Now that I’ve put them on, I don’t think I will take them off.’
“The body is so personal,” she continues. “To have someone push you out of your comfort zone a little bit and [help you] have that skip in your step — that’s the whole reason we do this.”